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Publication Detail
Light in man's environment
Abstract
© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights. Light in the form of solar radiation influenced early civilisations and resulted in the independent development of a number of sun-worshipping dieties. These were of particular importance as hunter gatherers transformed into settled agricultural societies. All artificial light sources were synonymous with fire, and early civilisations began to expand their visual day by burning brands, oil, and candles. Fire-based light sources extended for thousands of years and were still present in the era of gas lighting. Light meant fire risk. The advent of incandescent bulbs and the era of electric lighting really only expanded in the early part of the twentieth century. Fluorescent lighting became available in the 1940s, and today the drive for low energy has resulted in a plethora of novel light sources - in particular, light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Evolution governed the development of the eye in relation to roughly 12 h of light gradually changing to 12 h of darkness. Today almost daylight levels can be achieved abruptly at the flick of a switch. Many studies have demonstrated the spectral dependence of eye health, with the retinal hazard zone associated with wavelengths in the blue, peaking at 441 nm -many of today's low-energy sources peak in this region. Given the increased longevity and artificial light sources emitting at biologically unfriendly wavelengths, attention has to be directed towards light in man's environment as a risk factor in age-related ocular diseases.
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