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Applying Neuroscience to Healthcare Lighting Design: Opportunities and Cautions

Much of illumination design and science are concerned with the delivery of optimal lighting conditions to the human eye. But what happens after light enters the eye? There are many more effects than those involving vision, sleep, and circadian rhythms. This presentation will use an "inside-out" approach to consideration of effects of light, by taking a look at how the human nervous system works, and how light is involved in non-visual responses.
Light exposure through the the eye is known to exert a powerful effect on the brain and body, comparable to that of many drugs. Yet most forms of light exposure are not regulated as medical devices or therapies. However, new LED illumination and control technologies are starting to reach the market which more accurately replicate daylight exposure. Scientists, doctors, designers, and engineers need to be aware of the unexpected effects of illumination from these lighting systems in order to anticipate beneficial and detrimental effects upon patients and staff.