Campaigning for the approx. 2 million people in the UK
adversely affected by modern lighting.
Do consider adding your name to the Lightmare petition
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In the meantime please contact the Webmaster who will either answer your query or forward it to someone who will
Technical Adviser & Webmaster: Fr John Ryder, The Vicarage, Church Hill, Godshill, Ventnor, PO38 3HY
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The following are a few of the short stories and quotes that have been sent to me explaining how low energy bulbs and fluorescent tubes have affected their lives. I would appreciate you taking time in reading these.
LIGHT SENSITIVITY AND THE FAMILY
About ten years ago I was diagnosed with lupus and advised to be careful of sunlight, wear sunscreen and a hat in summer. I soon realised that light sensitivity was going to curtail my life considerably more than this and that I would need to stay out of sunlight entirely. This was a great regret to my husband and me as we loved going on walks together. But this recreational activity ended abruptly and I decided I would need to adapt to being an indoor person.
One evening after dusk we went to a tea-room and within seconds of sitting down, a dark red rash appeared across my cheeks, caused by the fluorescent lights. This is how I learnt that fluorescent lights emit ultraviolet radiation. This was an even greater shock than discovering the harmful effects of sunlight. With the ever increasing drive towards the use of fluorescent, halogen and energy saving lights, I, and others like me, am barred from the use of virtually all public buildings and now even from most private homes.
At the onset of my illness, my daughters were aged ten and twelve years. Because of the harsh fluorescent lighting in the school, I was never again able to attend school events, go to parent-teacher meetings or be present at concerts or award evenings. For the same reason I could not accompany my daughters on appointments to the local doctor's surgery or the hospital. And I could not help them with their shopping. Instead, I always needed someone to do my shopping and collect my medicines etc., usually my long suffering husband. My incapacity placed a lot more chores in his direction, even such simple tasks as hanging up the washing. And when it came to social functions and events he had to go on his own.
We found out as much as we could about making the windows safe with window film and blinds and from that time I became more or less a prisoner in my own home. We never again went on a family outing or holiday and I was not able to visit my ageing parents overseas or go to my father's funeral. Nevertheless I count myself lucky to have a caring husband who undertakes all my transactions with the outside world for me. The ordinary daily tasks are a nightmare for light sensitive patients who live on their own. Initially I thought that computers would provide communication with the outside world but I and others in the Eclipse Group have discovered that radiation from computers makes us very ill indeed.
Transport is a major problem for people with severe light sensitivity. The standard UV film on car windows is simply not enough. With ever more adaptations and improvements my husband has found a way to transform the back of our car into a light-proof van but of course it still requires a driver to transport me while I remain in the dark at the back. Every venture from the house is a complicated undertaking, usually limited to essential medical appointments after which it is necessary for me to take steroids.
The only possibility of an outing is to understanding friends, at night in winter, and we need to take our own lamps with low wattage incandescent bulbs. The Spectrum slogan 'Don't leave us in the Dark' (as a consequence of abolishing incandescent lighting) is a truly frightening prospect. Severe light sensitivity is a seriously disabling and isolating condition which diminishes the life of the individual and the family.
Wendy had worked as a senior library assistant in Warwickshire County Library for 20 years when a re-fit of the library caused serious problems for her. Wendy has lupus, an auto-immune illness which can affect any part of the body. The new lighting caused a very serious rash and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), symptoms lessened on her days off, but returned with greater severity when she was back on duty.
She battled on for several months, and was sent to work in another branch for 12 months; all the time she was trying to discover the reason for such a bad reaction. She had been told by her lupus consultant to avoid direct sunlight because that worsened her lupus symptoms, but she discovered that the ultra violet light from the fluorescent lights was causing the same problems.
Eventually Wendy was sent to see an Occupational Health doctor by her employers, and with the support of this doctor, her lupus consultant and the Medical Physics Dept at Coventry Hospital, her employers agreed to install filters on the fluorescent lights, which made it possible for her to continue working in the job she loved.
Wendy hasn’t wasted all the information she found out; she runs an exhibition stand during Lupus Awareness Month (October) and finds that many other people are affected by these artificial lights which use UV rays. “I’m very warey of going into public buildings when I see they have similar lights – even the dentist or the hairdresser – I know what to avoid now and get out as quickly as possible”.
If the government withdraws incandescent light bulbs (as they plan to do in the next few years) many people like Wendy risk suffering serious, long-term symptoms which may mean having to give up their place of work unless adjustments are made, and they won’t be able to get any relief from this even in their own home. People with lupus are concerned about global warming, but consideration needs to be given to the danger that the replacement lighting causes to people with serious medical conditions.
My house is covered in fairy lights the whole year round
Claire (30) never takes the fairy lights down – no, she isn’t forgetful, she has to avoid artificial light using the ultra violet spectrum and daren’t risk it causing more problems than she has already coped with.
Several years ago, Claire decided she wanted a nice tan before she went on holiday, but she found the effects very different from what she had been promised. Her skin blistered, went red and thickened so much that she lost all sensation in her hands and feet and eventually the skin fell off and she lost her nails. The damage was such that she was told she had 3rd degree burns. She says “I couldn’t turn on the taps or fill the kettle because of the damage to my hands. It was so painful, we take advantage of the use of our hands and feet and I didn’t realize until I couldn’t use them at all for nearly a year”.
My 8-year-old daughter is a great help and helps me with so many things, as not to aggravate my condition any further than necessary as my skin on my hands can become very inflamed very quickly now, she helps especially looking after her little sister, and my parents are a great help too.
Claire has lupus, an auto-immune illness which affects any part of the body – for Claire this has included Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), a stroke, a collapsed lung and because of liver problems she has had her appendix removed. As if this wasn’t enough to cope with, another symptom is extreme fatigue. Lupus patients are always advised to avoid sunlight because it will make their symptoms worse, but at least 30% of them also have strong reactions to artificial light using UV rays. When Claire visits hospital for treatment, she always has to ask for the lighting to be switched off.
She avoids many shops and other public buildings with strong artificial light in West Sussex where she lives.
“I’ve re-trained as a nail technician, and in the future would work from home so I don’t have to worry about any problems from lighting” she says.
If the government withdraws incandescent light bulbs (as they plan to do in the next few years) many people like Claire risk suffering serious, long-term symptoms which may mean having to give up their place of work unless adjustments are made, and they won’t be able to use the incandescent bulbs even in their own home. People with lupus are concerned about global warming, but consideration needs to be given to the danger that the replacement lighting causes people with serious medical conditions such as lupus.
Susie enjoyed her job as an administrator in Health and Safety at the County Council in North Allerton, but she began to suffer from bad skin rashes and migraines which seemed to get worse and worse. Susie (27) has an illness called lupus, an auto-immune illness which can affect any part of the body, and she had been warned by her consultant that the symptoms will worsen when in bright sunlight because of the ultra violet rays. She realised that something was triggering her symptoms whilst she was at work, and this turned out to be the fluorescent lighting in the office as it also gives of ultra violet light.
Fortunately for Susie, her employer made adjustments, recognising their responsibilities, and took the lighting out and moved her desk close to a window so that she could continue working. But she realised that she needed to avoid other places which used fluorescent lighting such as the gym and shops. When she visits the hospital she has to ask that lighting is switched off, otherwise the she experiences the problems of rashes and migraines again.
Unfortunately she has recently had to be admitted to hospital because a cat scratch has triggered a bad lupus reaction and her kidneys are currently affected; but the lighting in the hospital is also causing her lupus to be more aggressive, which makes life extremely difficult. Her parents are going to ask the hospital if they can fix filters to the fluorescent lighting as this will reduce the impact of the ultra violet rays, but, even if the hospital agree, this will take time to install and Susie is unlikely to benefit at the moment.
I found that lighting in the County Council office where I work caused a worsening of my lupus symptoms. I experienced nausea, severe migraine and ‘jittery’ feelings and could not continue working there. Fortunately my employer took the problem seriously and by replacing the lights and moving my desk close to the window, I was able to retain my job.
I worked in a factory until the lighting caused rashes, migraines, nausea and disorientation to such an extent that I had to take so many days off sick, I subsequently lost my job.
Fluorescent lighting in most supermarkets and any other place you may find them, even some hospitals make me very ill (headache, disorientated, sick and very faint)'.
I am having increasing problems with fluorescent lighting and especially halogen lighting in public places......my eyes become inflamed and my skin feels sore and I generally feel unwell'
Then sensitivity to fluorescent lights appeared when I began to work under them. I had several convulsion-type episodes at VDUs and began to get facial swelling and visual disturbances. I could not stand fluorescents at all, they made me nauseus. Many lupus symptoms appeared, with recurrent bronchitis and ulcers
I have problems with fluorescent lighting in public buildings – my eyes become inflamed and my skin feels sore and I generally feel unwell. One of the worst culprits is the lupus unit at St Thomas’ Hospital! Patients are generally left waiting for so long that by the time you get to see the doctor you feel dreadful and I find it lasts for several days.
My problems however are made even worse by the new trend in large stores to have halogen lighting. The stores are so bright that I find I cannot bear to set foot inside. My local BHS store recently converted to this type of lighting and after just one visit my eyes became so swollen that I looked as if I’d gone 3 rounds in the boxing ring! I did take up this matter with the management of BHS and needless to say all I received was a standard type of letter saying that my comments would be borne in mind for the future.
Fluorescent lighting in most supermarkets (older ones) and any other place you may find them even some hospitals make me very ill (headache, disorientated, sick and very faint) the same happens in these so called covered shopping centres as the covering does not seem to have Sun protection.
I am having increasing problems with fluorescent lighting and especially halogen lighting in public places and I recently mentioned this to my local MP. He was very helpful to me in the past when I had a battle with an Insurance Company refusing to accept that lupus was preventing me from working and he has offered his assistance in the ‘fight against lights’.
I am a teacher and the increased use of fluorescent lights in classrooms affected my body. I was tested and was found to be allergic to light and fluorescent light. I still wear hats and walk only at dawn or dusk on bright days. I can’t go to meetings in halls where fluorescent lights are, which is frustrating.
I never used the fluorescent lighting in my office because it made my eyes very inflamed…. Unfortunately everyone insisted on having the fluorescent lights on all the time…… Within 6 weeks of the move my legs became swollen and inflamed and they were so painful I couldn’t walk …… I am still trying to find a way of coping with fluorescent lighting as every shop seems to have it, I find certain large supermarkets, Marks & Spencer and Boots the worst offenders.
I sat half under a low energy bulb at the table for about two hours, never giving it a thought, felt fine. In the night I woke up with a frightening headache and the right side of my face, shoulder and arm felt as if I had been scolded. I got up looked in the bathroom mirror, and looked just as if I had fallen asleep in the sun, it was really uncomfortable. As it only happened to one side of me and that was the side under the direct light, there's no two ways about it, it was definitely the light bulb. It took several days to calm down, I must have looked really funny, but thankfully I'm back to normal now (whatever that is??).