Find here surprises about   

and media coverage of   baby-blinding by fluorescent nursery lights


  Preemies go blind from nursery lights  


 but designers can prevent the harm


Davidpreem02.jpg (21412 bytes)

From Aesclepius Fall 1997

The Official Idea Letter of 
The Center for Health Design

Group Calls for Replacement of Fluorescent Lamps 

Each year, thousands of premature babies in neonatal intensive care units lose their sight to retinopathy of prematurity, or ROP.


According to a group called Prevent Blindness in Premature Babies, Inc. (PBPB), ROP is the leading cause of blindness in American children. This condition is preventable, says the group, by protecting premature babies from exposure to short- wavelength blue- violet light, which has not been proven safe for their eyes.


As a national, nonprofit organization of volunteers, PBPB is working to get hospitals to replace fluorescent lamps with incandescent lamps or else to filter out the most damaging wavelengths below about 500 nanometers.  Its recommended checklist of lighting design questions for hospitals is as follows:

What is the light level in the neonatal unit? How is it measured?

Is there any item used to filter out the damaging wavelengths?

Is there any possibility for a premature baby's eyes being exposed to the sun?

Are eye patches or covers the only protection from harsh nursery lighting?

"As parents, we feel there does not have to be absolute proof of harm before precautionary measures are taken," writes PBPB President Margaret Watson.


Posted with permission from Aesclepius.  Published in Fall 1997 by
The Center for Health Design
For more information, go to"

Read more press coverage:

 Newsweek    Parade Magazine    New York Times  

Twins Magazine      People's MedicaL Society
The Catholic Herald

View also the transcripts of TV shows:

  • a discussion on "Good Morning America" about  "Blinding preemies by excess nursery light"

  • the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's
    "Market Place" program on 
    "Babies and Blindness"

  • a "USA Today" show on "Preemies going blind"


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