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Do dental light-curing units pose a blue light hazard?

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This is a summary of the article: "Shedding light on a potential hazard Dental light-curing units" in the December 2019 edition of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

Dental light-curing units (LCUs) are powerful sources of blue light that can cause soft-tissue burns and ocular damage. Although most ophthalmic research on the hazards of blue light pertains to low levels from personal electronic devices, computer monitors, and light-emitting diode light sources, the amount of blue light emitted from dental LCUs is much greater and may pose a “blue light hazard.”

Results

The authors conclude that more research is needed on the cumulative exposure to blue light in humans. Manufacturers of curing lights, government and regulatory agencies, employers, and dental personnel should collaborate to determine ocular risks from blue light exist in the dental setting, and recommend appropriate eye protection.


While current literature and regulatory standards regarding the safety of blue light is primarily based on animal studies, sufficient evidence exists to suggest that appropriate precautions should be taken when using dental curing lights.

The authors found it difficult to find on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration database which curing lights had been cleared for use in the United States or Europe and could find no database that listed which brands of eye wear designed to protect against the blue light has been cleared for use.

Guidance on selection and proper use of eye protection should be readily accessible.

Practical Implications

Research on the effects of blue light in animals suggests that extended exposure to even low levels of irradiance can result in retinal injury.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines for Infection Control in the Dental Health-Care Setting e2003 and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Blood-borne Pathogen Standard do not include safety recommendations or regulations that are directly related to blue light exposure.

However, there are additional Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations that require employers to protect their employees from potentially injurious light radiation. Unfortunately, it is not readily evident that these regulations apply to the excessive exposure to blue light.

Consequently employers and dental personnel may be unaware that these Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations exist.

I hope you you find the  information helpful. We always look forward to hearing your thoughts and receiving your questions and/or suggestions about this post and other topics. Leave a comment in the box below or send us your feedback by email.

Until next time!
Chiraz Guessaier, CDA Oasis Manager

Additional Resources

  1. Shedding light on a potential hazard Dental light-curing units (Bibliography PDF)
  2. CDA Oasis Conversations: Chris Felix speaks about light curing outputs
  3. Light Curing – Guidelines for Practitioners – A Consensus Statement from the 2014 Symposium on Light Curing in Dentistry
  4. FACT OR FOLLY? All light curing units are created equally. Summary of the Dalhousie University’s First Conference on Light Curing

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