In Defense of Pink

 Photo shows Matilda the welsh terrier looking at the camera while wearing a pink fleece doggy jacket. Guess what. Pink is good for eyes. It’s true. After listening to a Seminars@Hadley presentation by Dr. Elaine Kitchel on low vision and lighting, I learned about the effects of light on eyes. The best light for retina cells: reds.

Most of us know about the damaging effects of UV rays. Macular degeneration and cataracts are fast friends with those bad beams. UV light includes a range of wavelengths, and studies show exposure to the blue light, prevalent in electronic devices and LEDs, kills off retinal cells. As of 2016, there’s no reviving those dead retinal cells. Yikes.

So, how do you know if your lighting is within the harmful blue wavelength or in the safer red wavelength? Look for the kelvins. Store packages show codes, according to Dr. Kitchel, the last two digits reveal this information. Others list alpha codes like CW (cool white), D (daylight), FS (full spectrum), all bad for retina cells. Items labeled warm white or soft white are acceptable. Here’s a link to a bit on about Kelvin Color Temperature for more info.

These facts sent me to tour around my whereabouts checking light bulbs. Bedside table lamp: good. Lighting above the kitchen table: bad. Office fluorescent lighting: unknown.

If you’re tired in a particular environment, it may have nothing to do with your sleep habits, but more about how your retinas and hypothalamus react to the lighting. In places you can’t control the lighting say the workplace or public spaces, minimize blue light exposure. Wear a hat. Wear sunglasses. Place a UV filter film on screens. Build a barrier for eye health.

With all that in place, lighting is not the only thing catching our eyes. Paint colors and decor cause physiological reactions, too. There’s a reason some places are painted pink and it’s not for an old-fashioned love of John Mellencamp. A particular shade, Baker-Miller pink, reduced aggression and stress temporarily. It makes me want to paint every hyperactive kid’s room and every distracted office mate’s cubicle cotton candy or magenta or pale raspberry. It also makes me begrudgingly realize maybe my mom is on to something with her interior go-to of pinks and peaches. Don’t worry Dad, I’m not going to advocate for the new kitchen to be changed to shades of salmon and creamsicle. Next visit, I will be checking your light bulbs though. For the eyes, think pink.

Have you heard about the the damaging effects of blue light? What places wear you out? Would you ever paint rooms in your house pink? Tell me about it.

Note: for more on damaging blue light, check out my post about light pollution.



11 Comments Add yours

  1. Steph McCoy says:

    Wow I knew colors affected mood but didn’t know they can have an impact on our eyes. This is good information.

    1. Thanks Steph. With your love of fashion, I’d love to see an eye-friendly decor line designed by you.

      1. Steph McCoy says:

        Hmmm, interesting idea. Thanks Susan. I’ll add this one to the list.😃

  2. Casee says:

    This is some very interesting information. I have read many things about the effect of blue light on the eyes but I had heard nothing about pink lights or pink in the Spectrum. This is something I’m going to investigate. I do like a white light because it helps me to see better. But I would be willing to sacrifice that if I knew I wasn’t doing more damage to my retinas. Great article!

    1. A lot about lighting was discussed in the Hadley Seminar. I recommend you listen to it if you have a chance, Casee.

  3. Camie says:

    Thanks for sharing this! We once painted our daughters’ bedroom pink.

  4. The damaging effects of ultraviolet, including as a major cause of cataract, have been known for many years. Ultraviolet was old news when I was in optometry school in the late 1700’s. Blue was a no no.

    Jumping ahead to the 1950’s, there were light bulbs that produced a warm, slightly pinkish light, though they never truly caught on.

    Now our choices (energy efficient?) are fluorescent with its hideous color spectrum or LED’s that no matter what we do come out blue.

    Nice post; very informative and useful.

    1. Interesting comments! Thanks for adding your thoughts.

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