Light and the Aging Eye
MORE, MORE, MORE Light and the Aging Eye
If you are part of the baby boomer generation AND you feel as if you need MORE and BETTER lighting in your home or place of business, you are certainly not alone! It’s a fact that our vision begins to decline around age 40 - the lenses of our eyes thicken, our corneas begin to yellow and our pupils become less reactive to light. All these factors contribute to the fact that by the time we are 65 years old we need 4 times the amount of light to see properly as we did when we were 25!
This statistic from the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) seems daunting, but the fact of the matter is a well-thought-out interior lighting plan and a few adjustments can make all the difference. So whether you’re thinking about your own vision or caring for an older adult, the following suggestions apply for improving general aging eye health and vision.
1. It’s simple - MORE is BETTER - then ADD DIMMING capabilities to control the light levels. I like to think of each room I am resigning as a grid and I need to get light into the not only the center but all four corners, as well. By improving the uniformity of the light distribution in the space you will reduce dark shadows that can have a disorienting effect on older adults. Plus, a well-lit space is a positive environment!
2 Yes, there are a lot of neat lighting control systems on the market BUT older adults appreciate easy-to-use switches with DIMMING capabilities. Motion sensor and timer switches can make life easier for any age level, and save energy, too.
3 Don’t discount the importance of daylight! Daylight provides significant health and emotional benefits for everyone but especially older adults.
4 Indoor stairwells and outdoor stairways should be properly illuminated especially to improve safety and avoid risky falls.
5 Night lights are a must! Whether plug-in or in-wall when they are placed in several locations; bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens - would be very helpful for navigating these spaces. But as LEDs become more and more popular it’s important to remember the blue light that LEDs generate also regulate melatonin, which can affect your sleep. You can avoid interrupting the circadian rhythms of older adults by providing an amber-reddish light rather than a bluish-white light for evening lighting.
As we age our eyesight is something that becomes more of concern and we have a heightened desire to worry about our eye health. However, small adjustments can have a tremendously positive effect for all of us, young and old!