Can raw cards/cards in slabs be damaged from light exposure?

Hi All,

Hope everyone is well.

Does anyone know if artificial lighting can cause damage to cards? I usually keep my slabs in a closed box but sometimes examine them under bright lights. Is there any chance that this could cause minor damage over time? Also, can cards on display be prone to damage over time if exposed to light?


I would only worry about sunlight. Generally if you’re out of the sun, you’re good.

However anything that emits U/V radiation can degrade color from objects. Artificial light from fluorescent or incandescent bulbs does emit a small amount of U/V radiation and constant, continuous exposure could probably degrade the cards over a long period of time, but periodically looking at your cards in bright light is not going to hurt it.

For what it’s worth, LED lights, I believe, don’t emit any U/V radiation at all.

Edit: If you would like to display your card I would urge you to get a U/V protective frame or case for the card. This is true for any printed collectible and is display 101, in my opinion.
Double Edit: wow there’s a lot of commas in this post


The dose makes the poison. All light will damage cards over time, the rate of decay is based on wavelength, intensity and exposure time.
As mentioned, sunlight is the worst and LEDs emit little of the most harmful UV wavelengths. Putting your cards under high intensity light for 10 minutes is not a problem. Leaving it exposed for months on end without thinking about the UV exposure is where problems can happen.


Thanks for replies all. Get so paranoid about any possible damage to cards. Makes me never want to expose them to light but exposure is going to happen naturally sometimes right when taking them out of storage etc.

In theory someone could buy a high value card off someone that has lighting damage but wouldn’t easily notice as it’s minimal, would this worry you at all?

Has anyone ever noticed damage from well kept slabbed cards over a long period of time e.g. SmPratte or King Pokemon?

Wish I didn’t worry as much about this.

Would slab sleeves not make any difference to the level of protection?

I think if I can kindly give you any advice its to not to worry so much about this unless you are specifically displaying a card. It takes a long time for U/V radiation to build up enough to damage a card. We’re talking literally years of continuous exposure, hundreds and hundreds of hours, before you will even begin to notice a difference.

Slabs or plastic sleeves are not going to help. Only glass or plexi designed specifically for U/V protection is going to make a difference. Even then, a lot of these products only filter out a certain percentage of U/V light (like 30%, 60%, etc) so you have to be sure to review how U/V protective the product is. If you are interested in displaying a card, seek out a display option that provides U/V protection specifically. They do make products that are 90%+ U/V resistant.

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Check the amount of UV produced by your light source. If you are using LEDS it should be fine

So do you think if I had something like these cardholders

and displayed them in front of very low-power leds that get minimal sunlight but no direct sunlight. I should be good right?

100% UV protection that they claim is hard to believe, but your windows+this holder will filter out a good chunk of the UVs from the sun. However this isn’t optimal for preservation since this minimal damage will unfortunately build up over years imho (probably decades though)

Normal visible led light shouldn’t have enough energy to break inks, so I would say no problem with this.

Yes, cards can be damaged by light, especially harsh UV light from the sun.

However, this probability is pretty low if you use common sense. Do not let your cards sit in direct sunlight for extended periods of time. If your cards receive indirect sunlight daily, buy acrylic cases with high UV protection. Consider rotating your cards out periodically to give them a rest from the harsh light and to enjoy more of your collection.

Cards are meant to be enjoyed. If they’re giving you so much anxiety that you’re constantly worrying about something happening to them, touch grass and then consider contacting a mental health professional (in that order).


The devil is in the details here. Most glass (like the kind you would find in the windows of your house) will block ~100% of UV-B light and UV-C light, but what you really care about is UV-A light. This product may or may not be misleading you as it doesn’t specify what kind of UV light it blocks, but personally I wouldn’t trust that it blocks UV-A.

As long as you don’t have your cards in direct sunlight (I try to keep them out of all sunlight, even indirectly) they should be safe regardless of the case you have them in.

As far as your concern about having them next to LEDs, LEDs emit such small amounts of UV that they are very difficult to measure. Even using expensive spectrometers it can be difficult to read the amount of UV light produced. I would be very interested to see an experiment where someone did a long-term study on how LEDs can cause cards to fade but I suspect that the amount would be so negligible that you could put them under LEDs for the rest of your life and never notice a difference. Cheers :slight_smile:

There are sleeves out there which claims blocking as least part of UV-A bands like this one:

But they can be expensive plus you also have to pay for international shipping so it depends on whether you trust these sellers and want to pay for them or not.