Are LED Lights Causing Your Migraines?

Reviewed and updated for 2024 by Molly Duong, M.D.

Homeowners and businesses are increasingly choosing LED lighting over incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. They’ve been touted as the superior choice with superior energy efficiency and longevity. However, researchers are discovering that the benefits of LED lighting might not outweigh the risks, particularly the risks to our health. LED light exposure is now implicated in triggering various health symptoms, including migraines.

What is LED Lighting and Why is It So Prevalent?

LED stands for “light emitting diodes,” an electrical advance popular for its superior energy efficiency compared to incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. LED bulbs currently maintain half of the market space in the lighting industry because they only use 20% of the energy their incandescent counterparts need to perform the same function. They are also cheap to manufacture and purchase, offering energy and cost savings – at least at face value.

While our eyes perceive LED light as white, it’s a mixture of blue, green, red, or amber light converted to white. The “whiteness” of the bulb is determined by the amount of blue wavelengths it contains. This same  “blue light” you’ve probably heard referenced in relation to digital device usage can have a detrimental impact on our health. Increasing evidence suggests that LED’s advantages are outweighed by costly issues.

LED Lights Aim to Protect Nature, But the Effect is Unnatural

According to the Department of Energy, LEDs save on utility bills and helps the environment. While LED lights are proposed as better for the environment, they use an unnatural technique that can be disturbing to the eye. In fact, a recent French study found LED lighting to be detrimental to the health of humans, as well as plants and animals.

The prevalence of blue light waves in both LED and fluorescent bulbs exposes us to unnatural light levels. Blue rays have shorter wavelengths and more energy than light waves of other colors. While a healthy dose of blue light has some benefits, long-term proximity to intense blue light from LED bulbs and screens is linked to harmful effects.

But it’s not just blue spectrum that’s to blame. Red and white LED lighting can also trigger migraine symptoms. As noted above, the color in LED bulbs is converted, so the color your eye perceives will not alert you to the presence of these color waves.

In addition, LEDs use a flickering technology that can trigger eye fatigue, headaches and photosensitivity. LED bulbs switch on and off hundreds of times per second to produce an invisible strobe-like effect, sending pulsing signals. This can cause our eye movements to function improperly, triggering a host of symptoms. Fluorescent bulbs also use the flickering system, but it’s more harmful in LED lights when used with a dimmer feature. Since LEDs can only be switched completely on or off, they flicker more prominently in order to simulate dimmer light.

Overall, the spectral composition and temporal light modulation of LED bulbs affect our health. Look at some symptoms you might not suspect stem from your LED bulbs.

Common Symptoms Caused by LED Lighting

Blue light has a dark side.” – Harvard Health Publishing

One reason LED lights impact health, particularly migraines, is the greater prevalence of blue light. Harvard Health researchers say that blue light exposure has a dark side, noting that “…environmental concerns, and the quest for energy-efficient lighting, could be at odds with personal health.”

While the blue rays from LED lights improve alertness during the day, they pose problems- particularly at the end of the day – in the form of eye strain, migraines, and sleep disturbance. Here are various symptoms your LED lights can cause.

Symptoms Caused by LED Light:

  • Headaches & Migraines
  • Migraine photophobia
  • Insomnia
  • Double Vision
  • Dizziness
  • Eye Strain
  • Visual Disturbance
  • Retinal Damage
  • Melatonin Suppression
  • Circadian Rhythm Disruption
  • Photo Toxicity or Light Sensitivity

Bright Light Sensitivity

The brighter the light, the more discomfort, pain, or aversion you probably feel. The wavelength or color of light also plays a role. Blue-green light causes more photophobia than other colors.” – National Headache Foundation

In a study about light and headache disorders, researchers found that people with episodic or chronic migraines see light differently. Their eyes react more to light’s brightness and different colors, even when it’s not very bright. This increased sensitivity happens because a part of the human eye, called the retinal rods, is more active in migraine patients. So, when they say light is too bright, it’s because their eyes are more sensitive to light at low intensities.

LED Lighting Is the Migraine Trigger That’s Hard to Escape

“LED lights trigger migraines for some people, because they don’t emit a steady stream of light.”

If you’re experiencing migraine episodes, you might be frustrated by trying to identify the cause. While you might have considered everything from your glasses prescription to your caffeine intake or seasonal allergies, chances are the problem is right in front of you or directly overhead.


LED lighting doesn’t just stream from the bulbs in your fixtures. It’s now routinely used in computer monitors, television screens, phones, tablet computers, and even LED holiday lights. Essentially, it’s all around you. So, if you have tried a host of medications and keep coming back to your doctor for the same symptoms, consider that the migraine and tension-type headache attacks might stem from your lighting, not your biological or chemical makeup. 

LED Light Is All Around Us:

  • TV Screens
  • Computers
  • Tablets
  • Smartphones
  • Holiday Lights
  • Car Lights
  • Overhead and Tabletop Lighting
  • Store Lighting

Some Populations Are at Particular Risk

While everyone can be susceptible to the negative effects of LED lighting, some sensitive people are at an increased risk for LED light-related symptoms. If you, your coworkers, or loved ones fall into these categories, taking protective action is even more essential. Factors that can make you more vulnerable to LED light include:

  • History of head injury
  • History of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Working night shifts
  • Pregnancy 
  • Adolescence 
  • History of migraines or frequent headache pain
  • Chronic pain

How to Combat LED Lighting’s Impact on Migraines

While LED lighting can be a migraine trigger, the alternatives aren’t always better. Fluorescent bulbs have many of the same harmful effects as LED bulbs, besides additional environmental consequences.

Since LED and fluorescent lighting surround us, the best solution is to take protective measures. We can’t stop oncoming traffic from aiming fluorescent bulbs at our line of vision, and we can’t forgo the use of computers, phones, or electronic devices in everyday life. But we can shield ourselves from their impact on our lives.

Blue-light glasses are one such solution but aren’t always practical or effective. Alternatively, for those who already wear glasses, there are blue-light coating options you can opt to include in your lens package to produce the same effect. While they might help you while working in front of a screen, they may not be the best solution for all-day wear. LED light streams around the frames and can still shine from overhead.

Current research has yet to find definitive proof that blue-light-blocking glasses help the visual system, and many companies may be making false claims. To our knowledge, the best solution is to block LED light at the source by installing natural light filters on your LED and fluorescent light fixtures.

How Natural Light Filters Prevent LED-Induced Migraines

Natural light filters, like the NaturaLux products installed by Make Great Light, protect migraine sufferers from LED light damage at all angles. No harmful rays slip through since they fit snugly against your existing light lenses. Whether you’re in a meeting, reading a bedtime story to your child, or working at your computer, you can save energy while also protecting your health with natural light filters.

Our light filters are the quickest, most effective way to prevent LED-induced migraines and other harmful effects of LED lightbulbs. If your bulbs are fluorescent instead, the benefits are even more profound. Here are just a few ways our filters provide migraine relief and improve your environment.

Benefits of Natural Light Filters

  • Reduced Headache Frequency
  • Reduced Visual Fatigue
  • Improved Focus
  • Enhanced Clarity
  • Eliminate Glare
  • Absorb UV Radiation
  • Provide Full Spectrum Light
  • Produce Natural Lighting

5 Tips to Improve LED Light Sensitivity

Since we can’t escape artificial lighting completely, we must reduce its impact however we can. Most of us are exposed to LED lighting through our jobs, homes, commute, or every day activities. So, take steps to improve light sensitivity wherever you can. Here are some tips to get started.

  1. Choose the best lighting whenever possible as your principal light source – this eliminates the need to add on filters.  
  2. If choosing primary lighting fixtures is not a possibility (i.e workplaces), use natural light filters wherever permitted. 
  3. Take advantage of smartphone features and filtering screen settings on your devices.
  4. Take breaks from device screens every 20 minutes.
  5. Avoid excessive use of LED-lit devices at night, particularly 2 hours before bed.

How to Protect Employees from LED Health Risks

For more than 90% of those affected, migraine interferes with education, career or social activities.” – American Migraine Foundation

LED lighting remains a prevalent choice due to its lower cost and energy consumption. However, it’s important to note that many manufacturers use cheap components and harmful engineering tactics to keep costs low. In addition, production environments are susceptible to lacking quality control and structural consistency. The cost-benefit analysis is still underway, as the environmental benefits are offset by the risks to the people, animals, and plants inhabiting the environment.

It’s important to protect your coworkers from potential health issues by creating a barrier against LED and fluorescent lights. Most people can’t work outside in natural light all day or rewire their entire office. Instead, they can install natural light filters within minutes. This increases their ability to enjoy everyday activities and reduces time missed with headache days.

Our Affordable Filters Guard Against Migraines and So Much More!

Both LED and fluorescent lighting are proven to trigger migraine headaches. They’re also implicated in multiple health issues, and ongoing research is uncovering more. Stay ahead of the health curve by protecting your workplace with safe light filters.

Make Great Light installs filters in just 5 minutes, making safety fast and affordable. The long-term costs of LED light exposure can include work absenteeism, reduced productivity, and multiple health concerns. Contact Make Great Light. 

About Dr. Molly Duong

Dr. Molly Duong is a therapeutic and glaucoma certified optometrist. She obtained her doctorate degree at the University of California Berkeley, School of Optometry, and graduated with Honors in Research. Upon graduation, she completed a residency at the Major Charles Robert Soltes Jr. Blind Rehabilitation Center located at VA Long Beach, gaining expertise in primary care, low vision, and traumatic brain injury cases.

She is passionate about expanding innovations in technology and medical devices to improve vision care, and is always looking to build her professional acumen. On top of patient care, she also works in medical writing for ophthalmic trade articles and blogs, as well as consulting for a new vision-based web application in development.

Resources and Citations:

1)”Light emitting diodes”:

2) “French study”:

3) “Blue light”:

4) “Harvard Health”:

5) “Negates blue light blocking glasses”:

6) “Natural light filters”:

7) “Naturalux”:

8) “Make Great Light”:

9) “Light sensitivity”:

10) “Lack quality”:

11) “Contact”:

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