As we age so do our bodies, things may weaken and dim, and this also includes our vision.  Some ways to help control this loss of sight are to consult with your doctor, get your eyes checked regularly and adjust the light within your home to meet your vision needs.

Does your lighting make you feel old?

Many older people maintain see just fine all the way up into their 70s and 80s. However some research shows that many older people with good vision are visually impaired while performing their everyday tasks while in the presence of low light, changing light levels, low contrast lighting and excessive glare.

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With this in mind, what now? Don’t worry there are 4 easy adjustments that you can make for your lighting or the lighting of your loved ones.

Increase your levels of light
Just by switching out your old low watt light bulbs or adding a few new light fixtures, more light will be available. This will increase your productivity, safety and visibility. For instance if there is not enough lighting at stairways, this can leave room for accidents for you or your loved ones. If you have always used the same light bulb at your desk, but you now realize that it is no longer bright enough try switching it out for a brighter light bulb. Observe the different that it makes when you read, work on the computer or do paperwork.

Reduce unnecessary glare
“Bright, sparkling light and small points of light can cause so many reflections within the eye that they become problematic for the older person (Goodman & Smith, 1992)”

Look around your space at each of your light fixtures, make a list if necessary, and begin to evaluate the light that shines from each light fixture. Try asking yourself these simple questions.

  • Does the light bother your eyes when you look at it?
  • Is it too dim or too bright for the area in which it is placed?
  • Does it need a lamp shade?

This will help you evaluate your lighting, and make a shopping list if needed.

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Avoid drastic changes from dark to light
This refers to walking from a brightly lit room to a dark room, leaving your eyes with a feeling of blindness. Adjustments can be made just by changing out your dim light bulbs to a brighter light bulb, something closer or the same as the room with the bright lights. Of course this can always be switched around if you prefer a dimly lit environment versus a bright glaring space.

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Carefully select your light bulbs color temperatures
“Another consideration for the designer is knowledge that light entering the eye must pass through the cornea and the vitreous humor. The lens has a tendency to become yellowish with age which affects color perception by filtering out blues and violets in the color spectrum (Haight, 1993). The lens may also become darker which causes a decrease in color vision, especially in the blue-green area of the spectrum. Consequently, elderly persons see yellow, orange and red more easily than other colors (Goodman & Smith, 1992).” – ASID

A well designed lighting plan will help enable older occupants see their surroundings more clearly. Many older people tend to stay indoors the majority of the day and lighting is an important asset to how comfortable they are.

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It is important that the lamp (light bulb) used has a color rendering index (CRI) of 70 or greater. The color of the rooms interior surroundings can also play a role on how the light is refelected. ASID suggests that when designing color for the environments of older persons:

  • use highly saturated colors
  • avoid monochromatic color schemes
  • provide high levels of contrast to help assist the individual to identify the edges of objects
  • too many dark materials and finishes may create a space that is very difficult to illuminate
  • avoid unshaded lamps or lamps made of clear glass

Many organizations and electric companies are now offering incentives to switch out old incandescent light bulbs for lower wattage light bulbs that provide just as much light.