Eco-bulbs 'a danger' to visually impaired

CAMPAIGNERS have claimed that Government plans to switch off traditional lightbulbs will put partially sighted people in danger.

Old-fashioned incandescent bulbs are being phased out of British shops as part of an EU-wide bid to conserve energy. But charities and eyesight specialists claim replacement eco-friendly bulbs do not produce enough light and will cause a range of problems for those with vision difficulties.

Under an EU agreement, all incandescent bulbs for sale must be replaced by energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs by 2016, and in Britain ministers have promised to enact the changes by 2012.

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But David Adams, a spokesman for the Royal National College for the Blind, claimed the new bulbs would cause problems for a significant minority of the population.

He said: "They come on slowly and if there are steps or objects in the way, people can fall over, have accidents, and that's the biggest danger."

Larry Benjamin, of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, also predicted the switchover would cause difficulties for the visually impaired.

He said: "Incandescent bulbs give a general bright lighting source and the worry is that if they disappear, patients won't be able to have the same level of lighting in their homes."

But the environmental pressure group Greenpeace said the changes were necessary, claiming that phasing them out in the UK alone will save more than five million tonnes in CO2 emissions a year.

A spokeswoman for the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said they had taken the issue into account.

She said: "To address these concerns, halogen lamps, which do provide contrast lighting, will remain on the market."