Are Infrared Saunas Eye-Safe?

smiling woman with healthy eyes

As you step out of your infrared sauna, you’re likely to notice many differences in your body and mind. Your pain is dissipated, your mood is relaxed, your airways are invigorated--and your vision is green?

If you’ve ever experienced this particular version of “snow-blindness” you’ve probably wondered what effect infrared saunas have on your eyes. Is this an innocuous case of your eyes adjusting to the red light or is something more sinister going on?

Eye Damage from Infrared Radiation: NO

Google “eyes and infrared” and you’ll quickly find a 1984 study which connected near infrared radiation with cataracts. These researchers found that glassblowers, who are exposed to frequent near infrared rays as part of their profession, had a much higher incidence of cataracts than the greater population. This study is frequently cited to show the dangers of infrared saunas to eyesight.

However, the researchers didn’t adequately control for the chemicals, heat, and other hazards that glassblowers are exposed to, so their link between infrared radiation and cataracts is tenuous.

Many studies have since found that infrared radiation by itself does not negatively impact vision (in the metrics studied). One study saw no retinal damage after IR exposure; another found no evidence that IR stimulates any photochemical response in the eye. 

Interestingly, a research team which exposed animal eyes to radiation to the point of damage found that while UV lights harm eye tissue through photochemical and photomechanical means, the damage caused by IR wavelengths was probably thermal in nature.

Eye Damage from Heat: MAYBE

Several voices, including the study mentioned above, claim that there is some risk of thermal damage to your eyes in the sauna. And there certainly is some risk: many of the benefits from IR saunas, after all, come from heat stress. Each body part responds to that stress differently.

However, the risk of ocular damage from sauna heat is very low. The temperatures achieved during an infrared sauna session are not known to be toxic to any component of the human eye, even with regular usage.

Wearing sunglasses in the sauna can shield your eyes from some heat, but the warmed blood behind your eyes will still carry heat.

Eye Damage from Light: YES

The infrared section of the light spectrum carries so many health benefits that we sometimes forget that it is light! Like looking at the sun, staring down a bulb in your infrared sauna can damage your vision.

To keep your eyes safe, don’t look directly at the bulbs or heaters, keep your eyes closed, or consider wearing sunglasses. A green tint when you leave the sauna is normal and safe, but it’s important to avoid exposing our eyes to direct bright lights for extended periods of time.

Related Posts

The Secret to Better Health: Your Body’s Microbiome
The Secret to Better Health: Your Body’s Microbiome
If you are like most of us, you probably try to take care of your body. You get fairly regular check ups. You try to ...
Read More
Embracing the Blue Zone Lifestyle
Embracing the Blue Zone Lifestyle
There are regions of the world where people live longer, healthier, and mostly happier lives. They are called Blue Zo...
Read More
Our Ultimate Mother’s Day Gift Guide
Our Ultimate Mother’s Day Gift Guide
Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and if you’re like us, you’re probably struggling with the perfect gift for Mom, es...
Read More

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published

Contact Us

Fill out the form below to be connected with a service provider in your area. You may also call 888-888-8888 for assistance.


By pressing the submit button, you consent to Be Vivid You and its affiliates using automated technology to contact you at the number provided.