Is eye protection from marijuana grow lights necessary?

Published Jun 17, 2019 01:30 p.m. ET
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There are so many things that new growers will fret over as they formulate a checklist of any must haves and extras that they would like to incorporate into their grow room. Growing marijuana is an exciting and sometimes costly endeavor, which makes it easy to overlook a few things, including some of the most crucial safety gear. Though you won't need a fancy hazmat suit or face mask, what you should do is invest in durable and robust eye protection. Even if you aren't in your grow room very often, the exposure to the lights can damage your eyesight, and cause migraines or headaches. Here you will learn which marijuana grow lights are the most harmful, why they can be damaging to the eye and a few ideas on how to avoid the blinding rays as much as possible.

Which marijuana grow lights are harmful to your eyesight?

High powered grow lamps and lights including LED, LEC, HPS, and MH bulbs can all cause damage to your eyesight after extended periods of exposure.

Why, and how are they dangerous?

LED marijuana grow lights are a great go-to solution for those who are just learning how to grow marijuana and aren't yet sure if they are comfortable with a more substantial investment. Though they work well with cannabis plants, they emit a purple glow that makes it incredibly difficult to see anything. This makes it so that from the minute you enter the room; you will be straining to see which can be harmful when it's a daily occurrence over an extended period.

LEC, CMH, and MH grow lights all produce a soft colored light that does feel overly strenuous on the eyes right away. They are designed this way, to illuminate your plants in a beautiful natural hue that makes it easy to asses, but they put off more UV rays than many other options which are suitable for growing marijuana, but not so much for your eyes.

HPS marijuana grow lights are one of the most commonly used models because they are energy efficient and cost effective, but they are terrible for your eyes. These bulbs are typically used during the flowering stage as they are excellent for boosting production of bud flowers, but the rays from this one makes it difficult to diagnose issues like deficiencies. The bright glow can hurt your eyesight over time, and constantly straining to see the minor details can make things even worse.

All grow lights emit UV rays which are not just damaging to your eyes; they are also incredibly bad for your skin. This is for the very same reason that tanning beds are, and extended periods of exposure can increase your risk of skin irritations and even cancer.

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5 Things you can do to keep your eyes light exposure to a minimum

Since there is no such thing as completely safe marijuana grow light to be around, the best thing that you can do is pick up the right gear that will protect you from as much of the potential damage as possible. Of course, there is always the option of making grow room visits during times when your lights are set to be off. This would allow you to turn on the standard house lighting and work with the least amount of risk. However, for most of us, that is simply not an option as our plants rest when we do. If you must enter your grow room during a time that the grow lights will be on, here are five things you can do to protect yourself from damage.

1. Invest in a pair of grow room glasses.
Since the issue of eye strain is one that has been faced by marijuana growers for decades, there is a whole bunch of products dedicated to the safety and efficiency of anyone who needs to work inside of a grow room. They will block out the harmful UV rays, and they will also improve the way that you see your plants by providing a full-color view. This is especially helpful when working with LED lights that make it incredibly hard to diagnose illness and disease.

2. Use polarized sunglasses.
If you can afford a pair of grow room glasses, or just can't get your hands on some right away, then your next best bet will be a high-quality pair of polarized sunglasses. They can be purchased for a fraction of the price, found in almost any local convenience store, and will keep your eyes protected from the harmful UV's, but they will make everything including your plants look darker than they are.

3. Turn off the marijuana grow lights whenever possible
This isn't always a viable option, especially if you will be in the room for quite a while as you do not want to be interrupting your plant's precious light timer settings. If you have to completely unplug your grow lights to turn them off, be sure to check that everything is turned back on and properly functioning before you leave.

4. Hang or use a smaller light during your time spent in the grow room.
Regular household light bulbs are nowhere near as strenuous on the eyes, and they also don't put off different colors, which may impact the amount of color that you can see. One of the ways to reduce your exposure to grow lights is to hang a very small fixture above the space where you will be working and turning everything else off. This will help to keep away the harmful UV rays and provide a pleasant and relaxing illumination that is easy on the eyes.

5. Wear a wide-brimmed hat.
Even if you have the very best grow room glasses, the light will still seep in through the outer edges of the frames, especially when your head turns at the perfect angle for a full-on glare. One of the best things you can do to avoid this is to find a hat, visor, or hood that is wide brimmed. This will keep the light rays away from your eyes and off your neck and face, which also benefit from a little bit of additional protection.

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