Jun 12, 2023

LED bulbs problematic for those with scotopic sensitivity syndrome

Politics ignores 14% of the general population in support of energy conservation. The effect on more than 46 million Americans has been overlooked, leaving them blind and in the dark. The push to phase out incandescent light bulbs and the ban on the manufacturing of these light bulbs give no thought or consideration of those who suffer from scotopic sensitivity syndrome.

Also known as Irlen syndrome, scotopic sensitivity syndrome is a light-based visual processing problem. Many professionals are skeptical of the concept; however, current neuroscience research has successfully documented differences in brain function among this population versus those without the condition, according to an article published by Chouinard, B.D.; Zhou, C.I.; Hrybouski, S; et al., titled A Functional Neuroimaging Case Study of Meares–Irlen Syndrome/Visual Stress.

For years, most optometrists have suggested those who suffer from scotopic sensitivity syndrome use natural or incandescent lighting. Today, standing in a store shopping for light bulbs under LED lighting is a challenge when scanning the shelves trying to read the package labels. Every light bulb on the shelf is LED. Where are all the incandescent lights? They are being "phased-out" and a mandate and energy policy ban the manufacturing of incandescent lights. Freedom of choice has been infringed, I no longer have a choice in light bulbs, regardless of having a condition that requires incandescent light. No more can I lay in bed at night and read a book. In fact, when the lights in my home burn out they will not be replaced with LED bulbs. I will be in the dark.

Driving around town I have noticed the street lights have been changed to LEDs. I have, over the past 10 years, noticed the increase of LED headlights on cars. I have to turn my head or avert my eyes with oncoming vehicles with LED lights. Eventually I will have to stop driving at night all together.

In stores, at gas stations, everywhere I go I am blinded by LED lights. It causes head aches and affects my cognitive focus. Even as I type this article staring at a computer screen I have to take breaks every five minutes to rest my eyes.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and the Department of Energy all set restrictions on light bulb energy consumption. This all set in motion the "phase-out" which today has effectively removed incandescent light bulbs from stores. The only incandescent bulbs available are "appliance bulbs" and a 40 watt light bulb good for looking at chicken in the oven or for looking for the ketchup in the refrigerator. It is not very good for reading or tying your shoe.

Scotopic sensitivity syndrome is a disability, and incandescent light is an aid for this disability, like eye glasses are for vision impairments, wheelchairs for mobility issues or seeing-eye dogs for the blind. To take away the aid for any disability is wrong. No one should leave an amputee without mobility or allow a blind person to stumble around trying to find their way just because their aids are not energy-efficient or don't meet government requirements. If an old artificial limb is found to be inefficient or made with toxic materials, is it not replaced with a newer artificial limb that is better? For those that deal with scotopic sensitivity syndrome, taking away incandescent lights is putting us in the dark. It is shining lights into our eyes that blind and cripple us.I have emailed the Department of Energy and my congresspersons, still awaiting a reply and hoping that someone somewhere will address this issue that millions of Americans are facing. Many will not be able to drive, function in the workplace, be able to read. It will make it a challenge for them to do grocery shopping, participate in jury duty, vote, read a bedtime story to their child, pursue a college education and ad infinitum. LED lights hinder the ability to do so many things if you have scotopic sensitivity syndrome, common tasks that people without it take for granted. Are people like me supposed to suffer so the rest of the world can conserve on energy and have a 20-year-life light bulb?

Cecil A. Ince lives in Springfield