Managing lighting in your later years

As we grew older, the back of our eyes receive less light. Furthermore, the size of the pupils decrease with age, and to compound the problem, inside your eyes, the lenses become thicker and absorb more light. The result is that we find it harder to see and often have to strain. If that were not enough of a problem, the lens in each eye also scatters the light, which adds a little veil of light over images on your retina. How does this affect us?

Firstly, it makes it harder for us to perceive contrast. This means that if we are reading newspapers, the difference between text and background is diminished with age. The sharpness of objects is a second way in which we are affected. Objects lose their distinctness, and we find it difficult to focus on them. Thirdly, the distinction between certain colours becomes reduced. Reds start to look like pinks, and the distinction between blues becomes minimised.

But all is not lost! There are changes in lighting you can do to manage the problems that come with age.

Firstly, choose lighting of higher lumens. Since the eyes receive less light, you have to increase the background lighting levels to the general areas. Choose light bulbs with high lumens so that areas are brightened. Remember to distribute light throughout a room so that darker areas within a room are minimised.

Secondly, remember to consider the glare levels. If you are increasing overall levels of light, the glare factor will also increase. Remember to avoid direct glare and reflection of the light from shiny surfaces into your eyes.

Thirdly, if you do a lot of reading, put extra light where you read, so that you can read without tiring your eyes or causing discomfort. Install more task lights around the house. A task light is a light for a specific task – for example, a desk lamp to help with reading, or extra cabinet lighting to help you search for what you need. It is a good idea to install task lights on the opposite side of your master hand. If you are right-handed, for example, place a desk lamp on the left side, so that there are no shadows that fall exactly where you need more light.

Your vision is affected as you grow older. But that doesn’t mean you need to accept the deterioration as the norm. With clever management of lighting, you can adapt your surroundings to maintain your quality of life.