Relief is in Sight
They hum. They flicker. They emit UV radiation. They give off a yellowish green light. They are all around us. What are they? If you answered “Aliens from another planet,” you’ve been watching way too many “X-Files” episodes. The correct answer is…fluorescent lights.
At my company, Inspired Concepts, our primary goal is to awaken and educate “Corporate America” to the damaging effects of UV on everyone, including lupus patients. Throughout my 28-year career in vision care, I have had the opportunity to visit with patients and co-workers alike who are affected by lupus. They’ve related to me their personal experiences of the pain and frustration caused by this terrible, but treatable disease. The purpose of this article is to provide the reader with information about lighting in general, its effect on all of us, and to offer hope for the future.
I have a dear friend who was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) 15 years ago. She has never complained in the 20 years that I have known her. Her sunny disposition masks what is happening to her internally. She has gone through the “butterfly” rashes and joint pain so bad that her husband literally has had to carry her from room to room so she can continue with life. She has a fair, Scandinavian complexion and blonde hair. She has had to make major lifestyle changes since her teen days as a “surfer girl.” She now tries to do all of her shopping at night, she must keep sunblock on hand at all times, and must constantly be aware of how much sun she is exposed to during the day.
The majority of people with lupus, over 60%, are adversely affected by ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV can be found in many sources. Obviously, the sun is a major source. You can add another apparent source, sunlamps. But have you ever considered that “bug zapper” lamps and ordinary fluorescent lamps also emit UV rays?
Why We Use Fluorescent Lamps
Fluorescent lighting has been with us for over 50 years. You find them at the office, the grocery store, the beauty parlor, at school, the bank; virtually everywhere you go. The fact is, in the last 10 years, over 600 million fluorescent lighting fixtures have been sold in the United States. The reason they are so popular is because they give off the most amount of light for the least amount of money. Fluorescent lamps use one-fourth the energy that an incandescent bulb does. Fluorescent lamps, without question, are the most cost-effective form of artificial lighting.
The Problems with Fluorescent Lamps
People hate fluorescent light. They dislike the flickering and humming. They don’t like the colors they see under fluorescent light. Most people are not aware of the fact that fluorescent lamps require the use of ultraviolet (UV) radiation in order to work, as seen in (Fig.1). That means that fluorescent lamps also emit UV radiation, in addition to light.
How UV Affects Us
Ultraviolet light, even though it is not visible to the human eye, affects each of our lives. A small amount of UV is a necessary in our bodies to effectively work with the skin and kidney to convert Vitamin D to its active form. This in turn promotes stronger muscles and bones. Some plant life also requires a small amount of UV to thrive. Unfortunately, there are some negative effects of UV in our daily lives as well. UV is notorious for fading articles of clothing. For instance, have you ever been shopping for a new jacket and noticed that right along the hanger line there is an area of bleached-out fabric color? Whether UV fades your carpets, drapes, clothing, photographs, paintings or wall coverings, it represents financial loss.
In (Fig.2), you can see the various causes of fading. UV rays, heat, visible light, humidity and dye fastness all play a part in the overall process of fading. UV rays not only causing fading, but studies have also shown that milk in your supermarket under fluorescent light for 24 hours loses up to 50% of vitamin A and riboflavin.
Is UV a Health Risk?
UV is known to cause everything from sunburns to skin cancer. UV can also cause early formation of cataracts and other ocular injuries. Chemicals that produce a photoreaction (reaction with exposure to UV light) are called “photosensitizers.” After exposure to UV radiation either from natural sunlight or artificial light like fluorescent lights, photosensitizers cause chemical changes that increase a person’s sensitivity to light. Photosensitizing products can worsen autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis, in which the body’s immune system mistakenly destroys itself. UV affects over 125 generic (and name brand) medications. One such classification of drugs is anti-malarials, such as Chloroquine (Aralen) and Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil.) Both of these medications are commonly used to treat SLE.
How to Protect Yourself from UV Rays
When outdoors, wear the appropriate sunblock (sun protection factor (SPF) 25 or greater) and clothing that covers as much of your body as possible. When indoors, your primary exposure to UV will come from fluorescent lighting. The same suggestions apply to indoors, but they are not always practical. There has to be a better way…
NaturaLight Filters for Fluorescent Lighting
After years of study and research, I have invented and received an U.S. patent for a fluorescent lighting filter called the NaturaLight Filter. The NaturaLight Filter is designed to perform three very important functions:
• The first is to absorb 100% of the harmful ultraviolet (UV-A and UV-B) radiation.
• The second is to eliminate the glare that causes the headaches, eyestrain, and stress caused by fluorescent lighting.
• The third is to transform ordinary cool white (actually yellowish-green) fluorescent light into full spectrum light. This not only makes you look better; it makes you feel better. Several studies have shown that full spectrum light helps to boost the effectiveness of your autoimmune system. Full spectrum light is being used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (the winter blues), jet lag and PMS.
We’re in this Together…
It is due to the spirit of courage and determination of patients with SLE that my partners and I have decided to do whatever we can to help the lupus community at large. To date, we have donated and installed a number of our filters at the headquarters of Lupus International in Irvine, California. We are also donating filters to be used by the San Bernardino lupus support group. As our company grows, we are committed to assist lupus patients through funding further research as well as various lupus organizations. I have been asked to begin speaking to various lupus support groups throughout Southern California, and I will devote as much of my time to this as I can. I look
forward to the opportunity of meeting as many of you as possible.
For further information, please visit our website at:
You may e-mail: Kevin@natural-light.net.