Eye Safety and Your Grow Room
Do you like seeing the world around you? Sure that is a dumb question with an obvious answer. But maybe you haven’t considered how you have been jeopardizing your sight literally every time you walk in to your grow unprotected. What is equally important for serious growers is the ability to quickly and accurately identify nutrient issues. To do this, growers rely on their eyesight to detect coloring issues. The light in your grow room distorts the colors reflected by your plants, and may be throwing you off the trail of the real offender. This is where superior color balancing technology comes in to play in a big way! Don’t let ignorance risk your sight or your yield. See why we wear Method Sevens every time we walk into our grows, and why you should too!
UV and Infrared Rays
High-intensity discharge lights include mercury vapor, fluorescent, High-Pressure Sodium (HPS), and Metal Halide (MH) bulbs. All of these grow bulbs emit visible light, as well as Infrared and Ultraviolet light. What does that mean? It means that safety should always be at the front of your mind. You need to protect your eyes every single time you step into your grow room! If the sun can damage our skin, what do you think high-intensity bulbs are doing to your eyeballs?
All parts of the electromagnetic spectrum release radiation, however, different wavelengths release different types of radiation. Ultraviolet light emits UVA, UVB, and UVC radiation. UVA is the longest wavelength, however, UVB and UVC pose the greatest risks. Although UVC is the shortest wavelength, it is the most harmful to human skin and eyes. The earth’s atmosphere filters out most of the UVC from sunlight. But if you use indoor grow lights, you are at risk for exposure that is unsafe. “More than 99% of UV radiation is absorbed by the front of the eyes,” so in your grow room, your eyes are in danger every time your lights turn on.
Infrared rays are generally considered less dangerous than UV rays, however, prolonged close-up exposure may cause cataracts. Ultraviolet rays are wavelengths that are too short for the human eye to see. These shorter wavelengths cause higher energy output. Infrared rays are too long for the eye to detect and are less energetically active than UV. To put it simply, infrared waves only have enough energy to move molecules around, causing heat. Ultraviolet waves, however, have enough energy to break up molecules, causing more damage to skin and eyes. They can cause cataracts, macular degeneration, and damage to the cornea.
In addition to breaking up molecules, UV rays cause chemical reactions in the skin and eyes that create oxidants. These oxidants cause cancer.
Metal halide lamps let off the most UV rays because the light is focused in the cool, or blue, end of the spectrum. You should always protect your eyes when exposed to radiation. In indoor grow areas, it is particularly important to protect your eyes when under metal halide lamps. Wearing specialized eye protection is the best way to do this. Regular old sunglasses won’t do much to protect you from the extreme rays of indoor grow lamps. Some sunglasses do protect against UV’s, which is a big concern, but UV’s aren’t the only thing straining your eyes in the grow room.
Visual Problems in Your Grow Room
Color perception, visual clarity, the strobe effect, and the ability to distinguish shapes and movement can all have an impact on the health of your eyes and how our brains try to rationalize the crazy spectrums seen in that environment.
Our eyes are used to seeing objects in “Balanced White Light” (BWL), which covers the entire visible spectrum. This type of lighting allows us to see natural colors and to recognize shapes and movement most easily. Most grow lights are nowhere near BWL, so our eyes can strain to see color properly and to recognize objects and movement. This type of strain is hard on our eyes and our heads. Regular old sunglasses actually make it even harder. Do you ever feel disoriented or have a headache after leaving your grow room? Now you know why.
HPS bulbs give off light that is in a really narrow yellow part of the Electromagnetic spectrum. Although plants love this yellow spectrum for photosynthesis, our eyes are not programmed to see in this kind of lighting.
The lack of blue-to-yellow light ratio in an HPS environment makes it extremely difficult for our eyes to focus properly. Additionally, because AC voltage doesn’t stream consistently through your lights, there is a natural cycle of energy that causes the strobe effect. You won’t necessarily notice it with your naked eye, but if you try to take a photo under your HPS bulbs, you will see lines running across the screen. This strobe effect, along with the unnatural color perception, causes headaches, difficulty seeing, and sometimes a dizzy or disoriented feeling.
Health and safety are obviously our biggest concerns, but how are you going to properly diagnose nutrient or pest issues with your plants if you can’t see their true color?
If you want to know more about why we are so gung-ho about Method Seven Resistance glasses, check out this 2 minute video:
Metal Halide bulbs cover much more of the visible light spectrum than HPS, so visibility under them is much more natural than under HPS. However, because Metal Halide tends to have a higher concentration of light in the blue end of the spectrum, UV production is a major concern with these bulbs. At the very least, you should never enter your grow room with MH bulbs without UV-protective sunglasses. We prefer Method Seven brand of MH specific glasses because they are specially formulated to correct the color of MH bulbs and filter out UVC rays, as well as UVA and UVB.
Check out this 1.5 minute video about Method Seven Operator technology:
LED technology is exciting for a lot of growers, but in terms of eye safety, LED is a moving target. Not only is the technology constantly changing right now, but there isn’t a lot of consistency between manufacturers. This makes nailing down safety standards really difficult. If you are growing with LED lights, you definitely should be keeping your eyes covered to prevent any issues. In terms of light spectrum, that is also ever-evolving, but Method seven currently makes glasses that correct the spectrum of brand leaders in LED and are constantly reacting to what is happening on the market.
The more you know, the better you grow!
In our opinion, every single grower, indoor or outdoor, should be using Method Seven glasses to protect their eyes. In terms of safety and quality, they really are the best. Method Seven uses superior color balancing technology for HPS, Metal Halide, LED, and the sun in super high-quality lenses that are formulated for optical clarity. Unlike most other glasses, Method Seven also filters out UVC rays, as well as UVA and UVB. Remember that UVC is super dangerous? We don’t get much from the sun, but your grow lights, especially Metal Halide, put out plenty to do real damage to your eyes.
When you enter your grow room, be sure you are wearing the proper eye gear that is tailored to the light spectrum and environment for each light. Method Seven is a game changer for every grower. Your eyes and plants will thank you!