Modern grow rooms offer a great way for horticulture professionals to create many different types of crops, from cannabis to vegetables indoors. Due to there being no natural light source inside, specialist lighting equipment is needed for photosynthesis and growth. For eye-safety reasons, wearing full spectrum glasses when using it is vital.
One of the most popular types of grow lights available is the full spectrum LED variety, partly because it’s affordable and great for many different types of crops. So, if you’re thinking of buying a pair of protective glasses to use with yours, you’ll want to know if they’re worth it and whether they really work.
That’s what we’ll be answering in this blog, while also providing some information about the lights themselves for context. Let’s start by talking about what full spectrum light is and what it’s for.
What Are Full Spectrum Lights?
Full spectrum bulbs are designed to give plants everything they need in the absence of daylight. While the light they give off is not as intense as the sun, they do emit a wide range of light frequencies that help plants to grow. Within this spectrum, you’ll find reds, blues, and greens, which all offer something to the growing process.
Since it contains the full spectrum of colors, the light these bulbs create appears white, with the blue frequencies helping growth and the reds assisting photosynthesis. Depending on the type of light your plants receive, it will often lead to different growing results.
What full spectrum bulbs shouldn’t be mixed up with are daylight bulbs that are meant for general use. You don’t need to wear full spectrum glasses for protection from daylight bulbs because the phosphorous coating inside absorbs the UV rays that are produced, meaning the light emitted is safe due to having a different spectral quality.
How Do Full Spectrum Lights Damage the Eyes?
Now that we know full spectrum lights create a white light like sunlight, and that they contain a broad mixture of frequencies and colors, the next question is: which ones are the most damaging to the eyes?
To begin with, we’ll remove the green light from the equation, as the main side effect of exposure to green light is disruption to your circadian rhythm, your natural sleep/wake cycle. Also, we’ll ignore the red part of the spectrum, as it’s fairly benign when talking about this specific grow light frequency, although infrared light can cause issues if the eyes are over-exposed to it.
So let’s focus on the frequencies that can cause the most common kinds of temporary and permanent damage to your eyes when you’re not wearing a good pair of full spectrum glasses: blue light and the much-talked-about UV light spectrum.
Perhaps the most widely reported effect of blue light on the body is how it can disturb your sleep pattern just like green light, leaving you feeling tired or alert at inappropriate times of the day. That said, unlike green light, blue light can damage your sight.
Another problem with blue light when it comes to eye safety is that the cornea is not able to block it very effectively, so pretty much all of it gets through to the retina. Without full spectrum glasses to protect you, blue light is known to damage retinal cells, which can cause permanent sight loss issues like macular degeneration.
Ultraviolet (UV) Light Frequencies
Sitting up in the higher echelons of the visible light spectrum are ultraviolet light frequencies, also called UV rays. They’re most associated with the skin damage that they can cause, such as sunburn and premature ageing. Even cancer is linked to unprotected exposure.
This is not news, as it’s been in the public eye for years, but what isn’t so widely known is the damage these types of rays do to the eyes. Full spectrum glasses are so important because the three varieties— UVA, UVB and UVC—are really bad for eye health, with UVC rays being the worst of all.
Thankfully, most full spectrum grow lights don’t emit UVC and the earth’s atmosphere filters out the UVC rays that come from the sun. However, we still have UVA and UVB rays to contend with...
The issue with UVA light is that it’s able to pass right through the cornea, all the way through to the retina. As such, it is linked to particular types of cataracts and macular degeneration.
On the other hand, UVB rays aren’t able to get through to the retina, but that doesn’t mean that your eyes are protected from them without full spectrum glasses on. UVB rays linger around the front of the eye and as a result, they can cause corneal inflammation known as photokeratitis—a particularly painful condition that can lead to loss of vision.
The Important Question - Do Full Spectrum Glasses Work?
Yes, with the single caveat being that they need to be of a good quality. We’re not being elitist, just pointing out the fact that some cheaper plastic types don’t offer complete protection and their coatings can rub off over time.
For the best protection, it’s a good idea to go for a ‘wrap-around’ style, which also protects the sides of the eye. This particular style of spectrum glasses is able to block all of those harmful rays—you’ll notice the difference immediately after putting them on because of how comfortable they make your eyes feel.
They also make it much easier to focus and maintain concentration for longer, while at the same time allowing you to see colors as they really are, rather than being distorted by uniform filtering of different light frequencies. In every sense, they work to keep your eyes safe every minute you’re in this kind of environment.
Don’t Skip the Glasses - It’s Just Not Worth It
Ultimately, owning full spectrum glasses makes sense, not just because they keep your eyes safe— reason enough on its own— but also because they make you better at growing. As this is pretty much the whole reason you invested in your grow room in the first place, of course you want the best results.
They allow you to spot disease and infestation early, so you’re able to monitor your plants effectively, rather than leaving things to chance. Not only that, but without proper protection, you’re likely to spend much of your time squinting and feeling rather uncomfortable.
So, yes, protective eyewear works and it works well. It’s the result of years of development, so do yourself a favor: if you’re going into a grow room at any time in the future, wear the right protection. When you know the facts, there’s no other sensible choice.