LIGHTING : Focus on Reducing Problems With Contrasts, Glare
Shed more light on your rooms when your eyesight starts to fade. Beginning at about age 40, eyes have a tougher time focusing on close-up tasks, adapting to sudden changes in light intensity and tolerating glare, said University of Minnesota lighting specialist Dee Ginthner.
Here are some ideas for improving the lighting around your home.
Eliminate excessive contrasts: bright pools of light surrounded by darkness. To do this, supplement task lights, such as table or floor lamps and pendants, with general, or “ambient,” light from ceiling or wall fixtures, recessed or track lighting or chandeliers.
Illuminate a room slowly to help your eyes make the transition from dark to light. For instance, turn on the table lamps before you flick on bright overhead lighting. Use plenty of small, light-sensitive night lights to help ease these nighttime transitions around your home.
Avoid direct glare from unshielded fixtures, such as track lights, by aiming them at a wall. This way, light bounces back into the room, and you don’t see the light bulb.
Minimize glare from direct sunlight with sun-filtering window treatments such as lace panels, translucent pleated shades, sheer curtains and blinds. Don’t place a TV or a desk in front or to the side of a window, which will direct your eyes into the light. Be sure to keep lights on while you’re watching television to avoid troubling contrast.
Increase wattage in table lamps to illuminate eye-straining activities such as reading, sewing and balancing the checkbook.
“Most older persons need at least three times as much light as a young person does to read, sew or see the fine print in a phone book,” Ginthner said. In lamps, consider switching from standard incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescents, which give more light while consuming less energy. Also, try replacing standard floods or spotlights in track and recessed fixtures with brighter and long-lasting, screw-in halogen bulbs.
When decorating, use light, reflective colors on walls and carpets to enhance the proper lighting you’ve established in your home. Using dark colors over a large area will absorb your newfound light.