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Can Camera Flash Damage Eyes?

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The eye is the most sensitive part of our body. Unlike other parts of our body, it can damage easily. For example, if you look at the bright sun for a long time, the retina could be damaged permanently. That’s why you must take matters of eyes seriously.

Here the question comes in: can camera flashes damage eyes?

It was a popular topic on the internet. In 2015 a story surfaced on the internet about an infant whose eyes were damaged for the camera flash. Some eye specialists agree with this story, and some reject the report.

Here in this article, I will answer the question in detail. After reading this article, you will have a clear idea of camera flash effects on the eye. So, let’s begin.

Camera Flash and Its Purpose

Camera flash is a kind of LED light that emits light momentarily. The flash light’s blinking duration is 1/1000 or 1/2000 of a second. It helps to take pictures in low-light conditions. Moreover, it helps avoid darkness in photos when you shoot in the bright outdoors against backlight.

Camera flash is evolving day by day. Once, photographers used single-use flashbulbs and flame powder. These days energy-efficient LED lights uses for the camera flash.

In the past, photographers used external flashlights. However, these days every camera comes with a built-in flashlight. Even cheap smartphones feature flash. You can buy external flashlights for your photography needs. External flashlights are powerful and can handle any dark condition.

Now, photographers can configure flashlights according to their requirements for a particular shot. They can change the amount of light and flash length according to their needs.

Blue light emits from LED flashlights is harmful to the eye. Thankfully, we don’t use it frequently. The flash causes short time and long-term injury to your eyes. If your eyes are exposed to flash, your eyes’ retina cells could be damaged.

Is the camera flash safe or not? To find the answer to this question, we need to know how it works first. So, let’s know how camera flash works.

How does Modern Camera Flash Work?

Modern camera flash uses low-wattage LED bulbs. And they come with built-in flash. If your camera doesn’t feature flash or needs a more powerful one, you can use an external flash.

Flash set up on the camera is easy. Put the flash on the camera’s hot shoe and locked it. After that, when you release the camera shutter, the flashlight will shoot automatically.

Flash’s length, time, and intensity depend on camera settings. You can always change settings for your specific requirement. For example, you can set the flash mode to auto. In this case, if you are using a budget flashlight, then auto mode could be best or worst for a specific moment. On the other hand, the auto mode will be best if you are using a high-quality flash.

Furthermore, you can set flash through aperture and program mode. The program mode allows you to customize the flash using different settings. If you want to play further with flash, you can use the sync mode. It is an advanced mode. If you are a new user, leave it.

Besides camera settings, flash settings also allow configuring flash output. You can use flash settings to set flash length, output, and intensity.

If you are a newbie and own a high-quality camera, then the auto mode is the perfect option for you. All modern cameras use autofocus. So, with the auto mode, you don’t need to worry about anything.

Effects of Light on Eyes

Light can harm the eyes in many ways. Yes, you are reading right.

Light harms eyes in two ways. When the light comes in contact with the eye, it creates a thermal reaction in the retina. Therefore, a heat source originates inside the retina. As a result, it can burn the retina and injure it permanently.

Furthermore, when bright light comes in contact with the retina, it creates a chemical reaction. When bright light comes to the retina, light-sensing cells of the retina become overstimulated. Hence, they release a significant amount of chemicals. For this reason, the back of the eyes is damaged.

Do you know why eye experts ask people to avoid direct eye contact with the sun?

Sun’s brightness is very intense. When it directly contacts with eye’s retina, it harms the retina. It overstimulates the retina’s light-sensing cells and results in a massive amount of chemical release. Therefore, it harms the eyes’ back.

Similarly, welders use black glass to avoid looking directly at the welding torch; prolonged exposure to bright light can harm eyes and vision in the long run.

Lights that emit blue rays are harmful to the eye. LED light emits blue rays and has detrimental effects. A Spanish study published in 2012 found that LED light can permanently harm the retina.

Camera flashes use LED, and it is a powerful source of light. But the flash doesn’t stay for a long time. That’s why it is not harmful to the eyes. But if your eyes are exposed to flash for a long time, it could harm your eyes.

Effects of the Camera Flash on Eyes

Camera flashes have severe effects on the eye; the most common is flash blindness, and the rare one is light-induced maculopathy. Let’s know about them in detail below.

Flash Blindness

Do you ever experience black spots in your vision after exposure to photo flash? It is called flash blindness. Flash blindness could be temporary or permanent. If your eyes are exposed to intense light, there is a chance of permanent flash blindness. But this possibility is rare from flashlights.

However, temporary flash blindness occurs due to camera flash. You may wonder when you see dark spots in your vision after facing a flash and think what is behind this condition.

When your eyes are exposed to flash, the retina is overwhelmed by bright light. And retina’s pigment bleaches. Therefore, dark spots show up in your vision. It lasts a few seconds to minutes. When the retina regenerates pigment, dark spots fade away from vision gradually.

In the daytime, flash blindness lasts for a short time. But at night, it lasts longer because, at daylight, the eye’s pupil remains to constrict and allows a small amount of flash brightness to enter the eyes. On the other hand, at night, the eye’s pupil is wide, thus allowing a large amount of flash brightness to enter the eyes.

Flash Light-induced Maculopathy

Maculopathy occurs due to flash. It is known as flashlight-induced maculopathy. It is rare but sometimes happens accidentally.

A study found that A 43 years old professional photographer was configuring his camera and experienced flashlight-induced maculopathy when a high-intensity flash accidentally hit his eyes. After one month, he was facing difficulties taking sharp photos. However, later he recovered completely.

Flashlight-induced maculopathy happens due to high-intensity flash. So, when you configure the flash or take images, ensure that flashlight intensity is not so extreme.

Can a Camera Flash Damage Eyes?

Already I have discussed the effects of different lights and camera flashes on the eye. But the main question remains; can a camera flash damage eyes? The straightforward answer is No!

The camera flash has adverse effects on the eye, but it doesn’t damage the eyes. If the flash can damage eyes, you could see blind people around you every day (people would become blind at infant when their parents take images after the birth)

Even the matrimonial section of the hospital prohibited infant photo shoots. Did you see any hospital asking not to take photos of a newborn baby? I never see any instruction where taking baby pictures is prohibited. Even doctors motivate parents to take pictures of their newborns.

Now, you may wonder why camera flash can’t damage eyes! Here is the answer to why;

Short Time Exposure

Sun produces the brightest light, and if you look at the sun continuously for 1.5 minutes, your eyes will be damaged permanently.

A flash takes only a fraction of a second; it takes 1/1000 of a second. You can change the camera setting and change it to 1/20,000. Moreover, it can’t be lower than 1/200 second. If you take 20 pictures continuously at 1/1000 second, then it will be 1/50th of a second. This time of exposure can’t harm the eyes.

If you take 20 pictures continuously, it won’t give you continuous exposure. Till today, no camera can’t give you constant flashlight exposure for one minute.

If continuous shooting through a camera flash can harm the eyes, then celebrities could become blind. Even celebrities used to face multiple flashes at a single moment. And it doesn’t harm their eyes. If something happens, it is flash blindness.

So, it doesn’t matter how many shots you are giving in front of a flashlight; your eyes will be safe.

Camera Flash isn’t so Focused

Nowadays, lasers cut metals. The laser focuses on the cutting point for a specific time to cut the metal. Here the focus is a crucial fact. The laser needs to focus correctly to cut the metal. If the laser focuses here and there, it won’t cut metal.

Similarly, every light needs to focus correctly to produce its maximum impact. And it goes the same with the flashlight. The flashlight needs to focus on your eye to damage it.

However, flashlights don’t focus on a particular point for a long time. And the crucial fact is flash starts bouncing after releasing. It burst around areas of the object. Only a little portion of flash focuses on the eyes for a moment. Therefore, it can’t harm your eyes.

The Intensity of Flashlights is Lower 

Here is another reason why a camera flash is safe for your eyes: its lower intensity. Intense flash can cause flash blindness.

If you stand two feet away from the camera, you can reduce the intensity by almost 75%. Moreover, if you stand four feet away from the camera, flashlight intensity will be 1/16 compared to the one-foot distance.

And when the camera releases a flash, it disperses in the environment. Therefore, it reduces intensity. Professional photographers also use different tools that reduce flashlight intensity naturally.

Even if you are 12 inches away from the camera, your eyes won’t be injured at this level of intensity. So, your eyes are safe from the camera flash. You can use flash without worrying too much.

Does Camera Flash Make Baby Blind?

Baby’s eyes are more sensitive than adult eyes. That’s why the question comes in: can a camera flash make a baby blind. Though baby’s eyes are sensitive, however, the flash is safe for them. Regular camera flash won’t harm the baby’s eyes.

However, news circulated in the Chinese media that a three-month-old infant became blind after someone took photos using a flashlight. After that, when the infant’s parents noticed the eye problem, they took the baby to the hospital. The doctor said the infant’s eyes were permanently damaged and irreversible.

The above story is not correct, according to experts. And their opinion on this matter is;

Dr. Alex Levin, an eye specialist at Wills Eye Hospital, said that there would be many blind babies if the story were true. He also insists that doctors use bright light in a baby’s eye for 30 minutes or more, but that doesn’t damage the retina. He concluded her statement by saying that no camera flash can damage a baby’s eyes.   

So, the baby’s eyes are safe from the camera flash. You can take photos of your baby using flash without worrying.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can flash make you blind?

Flash can’t make you blind. However, it can create flash blindness for a few seconds or minutes. It is a temporary issue. When you see dark spots after the flash, it is known as flash blindness. Moreover, flash can cause light-induced maculopathy.

Can a camera flash damage a baby’s eyes?

The Baby’s eyes are sensitive. They are more sensitive than adult people’s eyes. However, the baby’s eyes are safe from flashlights. But keep baby’s eyes away from laser lights. It can harm a baby’s eyes permanently.

Can LED flashlight damage eyes?

No, LED flashlights can’t damage the eyes. But it creates flash blindness.

How long can flash blindness last?

Flash blindness lasts for a few seconds to minutes. If the flash causes light-induced maculopathy, then it can last a month or more.

Final words

Hopefully, this blog post was helpful for you and by now it’s clear to you that the camera flash can’t damage eyes. As it doesn’t have characteristics that can damage the eyes, it’s completely safe for the eyes. Above, I have discussed what a flashlight is, how it works, the effects of lights on the eyes, the effects of the camera flash on eyes, whether it makes baby blind or not, etc. If you have further questions, let me know by leaving a comment below.

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