Light, Art and Tegretol
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Light, Art, and Tegretol

Q: Hi Doc, I am an artist. Above my workspace I have a four lamp fluorescent light fixture. I stumbled across bulbs from GE that simulate noon day sun and provide the whole light spectrum. I work between four and ten hours under this light and am wondering if these bulbs can cause harm. Each put out 40 watts and 2250 lumens initially but I don't know how many afterwards. I know that the new SAD light boxes put out 10,000 lux of light and that it is now believed that the power of the light and not the spectrum is what's more advantageous. I take Tegretol and have noticed the warning about sun sensitivity; would this be a problem as well?

Dear MLR
Actually, a good question.  I'm not sure I really have the info' you need.  Here's a stab at it, and you can try to pursue this further.

Your distance from the lights determines how many photons you're getting in your retina.  The amount falls off quickly with distance.  You're probably getting a substantial dose due to the amount of time you spend there though.  If there is no diffusing screen, you have to make sure that somehow you are shielded from any UV .  Can you rig up a piece of translucent plastic between you and the bulbs? (I'm not sure if "full spectrum" bulbs put out UV; if  you can find that out, you can find out if the screen is really necessary).  As far as I know, the hypersensitivity to sunlight is also a UV issue, so this would take care of that concern.  People who have a problem with sun while taking Tegretol report that they "burn easily".  I've never seen any problem with it beyond that -- on the other hand, I live in the Pacific Northwest!

Dr. Phelps

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