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I've heard that regular light bulbs with a filament are better for the eyes. Is the spectrum of one worse than the other? If so, are there any regulations for their use in industrial settings for worker safety?

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The "warmer" white-color of the filament (incandescent) bulb is usually considered more relaxing than the "colder" white of tubes and certain white LEDs.

However, the main ergonomic drawback of tubes is that many of them flicker. Some people are more sensitive to this than others. Some tubes have high-frequency modulators which greatly reduce or remove this effect. There is a very slight emittance in the UV-spectrum from tubes as well which could affect people wiht a photosensitive condition.

Since tube-lighting is used in virtually all offices and industries I don't think there are any particular regulations limiting their use.

See the wikipedia entries for tube lighting and color temperature.

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There is tubes with a more yellow light that is softer on the eyes, and in combination with the flicker free technologies they can come quite close to the lightbulbs. –  Johan Jul 14 '11 at 8:24
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It is possible that children growing up under one kind of light would be more likely to become nearsighted (for example) than under another kind of light. But we don't know.

What we do know is that children who spend a lot of time under sunlight grow up with better vision than those who spend more time indoors:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/21/opinion/21wang.html

The people who discovered this fact, guessed (very plausibly) that this is because sunlight is much much brighter than indoor light. But as far as anyone knows, the spectrum could make a difference too.

The spectra of CFLs and incandescents are certainly different. Both are different from sunlight, in different ways. So it's not impossible that they would have a different effect on vision development. Maybe CFLs would cause less nearsightedness than incandescents, maybe more, maybe the same amount. (I'd say "same amount" is the safest bet.) It would be interesting for someone to study this, if they haven't already.

I know virtually nothing about this topic beyond the New York Times article above. Someone can please correct me if I said something wrong. :-)

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