Dangerous effects of flash photography to eyes? (babies)

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by renee_marie, Apr 1, 2006.

  1. I had someone tell me not to take a lot of pictures of my baby
    because the flash can hurt or damage her eyes. Can anyone please
    give me their opinions on this subject? I certainly don't want to be
    doing any damage to my girl.

    I shoot with a Nikon D70 on camera flash (when needed), SB800 or
    Alien Bee B800 Strobes in double diffused soft boxes.

  2. This question has come up fairly often. It would really be interesting to find out from a qualified source. Perhaps you could ask your pediatrician?

    My thought is that flash has no bad effects and certainly less effect than using a very bright hot light but I would really like to have an experts opinion.
  3. I've seen the question before and the concensus from seeminlgy knowlegable people was that no, it won't hurt anyone.

    Personally, I don't care for a flash popping in my eyes, and hate to do it to others without a good reason. Do check into doing more natural light pictures. But not because it actually hurts them.
  4. I have attempted to research this on the web before but was unable to come up with a definitive answer. Searching for "photodamage" or "light toxicity" or "photoretinopathy" I find a lot of generic warnings, like this one but few actual studies on this topic. Obviously, brighter light and longer exposure times will increase the likelihood of injury. A trip to the Library of Science in NYC to check in the multi-volume textbook sets on ophthomology housed there would no doubt provide an answer, but I've never bothered to undertake that venture.
    I do recall an article a few years ago on the dangers of the intense operating room lights used in eye surgery and their effect on the retina, that led me to conclude that the duration and intensity of the flashes used in photography are nothing in comparison to operating room lights, and therefore pose minimal risk.
    The short attention span of children tends to limit there cumulative exposure to flash anyway. Furthermore, the amount of light striking the retina can be reduced by shooting in a bright enough environment that the pupils are moderately constricted. Thus, I photograph my own children without concern for damaging their eyes. Continuous (hot) lights are a different story altogether...
  5. If anyone is interested, here's the link to the article I mentioned above.
  6. I had an eye exam once in which the doctor first dilated my pupil, then attached a device to my eye to hold the lid open (something invented by Nazis, I'm pretty certain). Then he gave me an extremely nauseating solution to drink, had me put my eye to a camera, and proceeded to fire a high-powered electronic flash into my eyeball at a rate of 3 flashes per second for a full ten seconds. My retina gave it up at about the fourth flash and everything went completely green.

    Well, that was 20 years ago, and I don't appear to be the worse for wear.

    As mentioned, this has been discussed and researched and there hasn't been any real evidence that electronic flash at the levels we use are harmful to babies.

    It's certain, though that the flashes used for ordinary photography don't come anywhere near a few minutes of bright sunlight in total radiation, and it's the total that counts.
  7. I'm sure a little bit of fill flash in the middle of the day when pupils are closed (less dilated) will probably affect your eyes a lot less than a bright flash pointed straight at you in a pitch dark room.

    Probably worth using some common sense; even if it doesn't affect your babies eyes it will probably be bothersome for him to see a bright flash in the middle of the night.

    Remember that epilleptic (sp) attacks can be triggered by strobe lights, so there is one effect of bright lights on a human brain.

  8. It's your child, why are you asking us? Ask your pediatrician!
  9. A pediatrician won't be an authority on this topic. An ophthomologist might know offhand, or would be able to research it in order to obtain an answer.
  10. Minimise the impact by using bounce flash, fast apertures and slightly higher ISOs.
  11. "I don't appear to be the worse for wear."

    And neither are all the animals exposed to frequent lightning flashes from the moment of birth on. Annoying, perhaps yes. Harmful, I seriously doubt. I'd avoid it simply 'cause crying babies aren't fun to be near and I learned early on to let sleeping babies sleep.
  12. When my friend's baby was born, family and neighbours all piled in to take photographs. The baby was lying on the couch and every time a flash went off, the baby twitched quite violently, leading me to conclude that it was very distressed. Subsequent to that I have always photographed babies using fast film and available light.
  13. I doubt there's any actual damage or injury. But it can be irritating. My infant nephew was born with a serious heart condition. I've photographed him frequently during the past three months since his birth. He reacts strongly to direct flash from P&S type cameras. I use bounce flash and a diffuser, which minimizes discomfort.

    He can be a bit irritable at times, of course, because the little guy has been through a lot. But he seldom reacts much to a few indirect flash photos at a time. When he does begin to squint and appear irritated I stop for a while and use available light or don't take photos at all. The latter gives me an excuse to cuddle him for a while anyway.
  14. "I'd avoid it simply 'cause crying babies aren't fun to be near and I learned early on to let sleeping babies sleep."

    My boy got irritated at flashes the first few times, but soon got more used to them. He's not quite to the point of one of my dogs (If there are flashes, she RUNS in front of the camera, and poses - honest! It makes it hard to get photos of anyone else), but he doesn't get annoyed with them any more.

    In the spirit of full disclosure, I don't point the flash right at him - not for a fear of harming his eyes, but for aesthetic reasons.

    Years ago, in anatomy and physiology classes, we studied the function of the retina in a little detail, and from what I recall, I certainly wouldn't worry about the flashes. If significant amounts of UV were involved, then I'd worry, but it's my understanding that flashes do a somewhat decent job of filtering out the UV. If anyone has information to the contrary, I'd be interested in hearing about it.
  15. I asked in my new parent class, and my pediatrician said it does not hurt their eyes. He said it might upset them, but no damage.

  16. Thanks for all the repiles!
    FYI Kenneth Katz; I did ask Jadyn's ped and he said he has never seen any evidence of it doing damage to eyes. I just wanted to ask 'the pros' who use the equipement frequently incase they had heard anything to the contrary.<br><br>

    I feel much better about all the repiles as well as her doctor's opinion. We do use natural light often, and now that it is warming up, we will be outside a lot. But once in a while, we still like to do our cute little cheesy studio portraits :)
    It was never an issue if the flash bother her. She loves the 'lights' and tries to give it toys or other things... Here she is trying to get the light to eat her twizzler. Thanks again everyone! Renee<br><br>
    <img src="http://www.myneatfinds.com/dark4.jpg">
  17. Here's an opinion from an opthamologist and a veterinarian. For those of you with pets and children:
    I don't know these people personally but this article seems to give us a better basis than the collection of assumptions, rumors, urban myths, and old wives' tales we usually find when we search the Internet. And Dr. Cohen, as a biologist, has a wonderful collection of birds to go with portaits of his grandchildren (taken with flash, by the way).

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