Shining a Light on Lupus

Fluorescent spectra in comparison with other forms of lighting. Clockwise from upper left: Fluorescent lamp, incandescent bulb, candle flame and LED …

According to the Mayo clinic, “lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs”. In a healthy person, the immune system protects the body from bacteria and viruses. In a person with lupus, the immune system can no longer distinguish between the healthy cells and foreign cells. The immune system then makes antibodies directed against a person’s own cells. This is why lupus is classed as an autoimmune disease. It is estimated that approximately 1,500,000 Americans have a form of lupus (Lupus Foundation of America, n.d.).

Lupus can affect many body systems, such as the joints, skin. blood cells, heart, brain and lungs. The signs and symptoms of lupus are diffuse and often mimic those of other conditions making lupus difficult to diagnose.

Light sensitivity can be a trigger for people suffering with lupus. The UV that is emitted from fluorescent and incandescent lights may lead to skin rashes and sores. Rheumatologist Dr. Kichul Ko of the University of Chicago Medicine stated “It’s not only the skin disease that gets worse, it can also affect the entire disease process so it can make the patient get more fatigued, get sort of a muscle soreness”.

There are an estimated 37 million Americans who are sensitive to light. Irlen syndrome (which is a perceptual processing disorder) affects 12-14% of the population. Symptoms are often worse as a result of fluorescent lights, which emit UV rays. Even copy machines can have lighting that emits UV rays.

LED lights do not emit any UV radiation, making them the safest choice for people with light sensitivity. Making a simple change to LED lighting can go a long way to reducing exposure to UV rays. Many hospitals and other care facilities have already made the switch to LED lights. Other companies have also recognized the health benefits to their employees and have transitioned to LED lighting.

Sources used:;; CELMA Federation of National Manufacturers Association for Luminaires and Electrotechnical Componenets for Luminaires in the European Union, 1st ed., July 2011; JAN Job Accommodation Network,;; http://www.TurboFuture/miscellaneous/Negative-Effects-of-Comact-Fluorescent-Bulbs-CFLs-on-Light-Sensitive-People; http://www.webmd/lupus/Lupus-Photosensitivity-and-UV-Light.