June 22, 2015

How Better Lighting Can Improve Vision

Your parents may have told you that reading in poor light would damage your eyes. The truth is that incorrect lighting probably won’t cause permanent eye damage, although it can cause eyestrain because the eyes are working harder to focus. The best cure for eye strain is resting the eyes by looking at something far away instead of close up.

When it comes to lighting, the most important considerations are to ensure sufficient light and to reduce glare. A workspace requires light around the monitor to be of equal brightness to the monitor itself. If the overall lighting in the office is brighter or dimmer than your computer screen, you may experience “discomfort glare,” which is similar to what you might experience when seeing someone’s high beams while driving at night. If you can’t adjust the surrounding light levels, you can adjust the monitor’s contrast to match the surroundings.

A glare problem can occur if your monitor reflects you or your environment. You can eliminate glare by shifting the angle of the monitor or changing the direction of a light source. You can avoid a reflection on a tv screen by using blinds, or turning off lights behind you. However, the area around a tv screen should still be 20 to 40% of the brightness of the tv itself.

While offices are often well-illuminated, homes tend to be under-illuminated. You might try adding enough light to improve vision while still ensuring lighting that’s comfortable and not glaring. Stairways and hallways are often overlooked when it comes to light, although these areas can be very hazardous if improperly lit. If your work involves dangerous tasks like woodworking, or something intricate like needlepoint, it’s crucial to have sufficient light to see clearly.

As people get older, less light reaches the eye. Accordingly, proper vision requires increased light, research showing that a 60-year-old needs twice as much light to see as a 30-year-old. Also, older adults are more sensitive to glare, to lighting must be shielded as well as abundant. Unfortunately, more than 85% of older adults have light in their homes below the recommended level. A good floor lamp or table lamp can help provide plenty of general illumination in addition to focused task lighting.

Excessive lighting can be just as difficult on the eyes. Interior light can be reduced by using fewer bulbs or fluorescent tubes, or using lower intensity bulbs and tubes. Floor lamps providing indirect incandescent or halogen lighting may be easier on the eyes than overhead fluorescent lighting.

Having the right lighting at home – sufficient to see without being harsh – can improve reading ability and prevent eye strain. If you have questions about the best home lighting for your eyes, you can call our eye care specialists at 877-871-1684.