Looking for a low vision light? Learn why proper lighting is critical for people with low vision

Portrait of Aulus Cornelius Celsus, Roman encyclopaedist 
& physician

“Live in rooms full of light.”

— Aulus Cornelius Celsus
Roman encyclopaedist
& physician

Contents

  1. Introduction: Why proper lighting is important for low vision.
  2. Some of the most common eye conditions causing vision loss.
  3. The most important aspect of lighting for low vision.
  4. The best bulbs for low vision.
  5. The importance of selecting high-quality low vision reading lamps and low vision floor lamps.
  6. Conclusion: The best lamp for the visually impaired.

Proper lighting maximizes remaining vision.

To take a picture, a camera must have an adequate light source. Likewise, the eyes must be able to process light in order to see.

  1. Light first passes through the cornea, which begins to focus the image.
  2. The lens adjusts the focus.
  3. A clear image is produced on a sheet of photoreceptors called the retina, located at the back of the eye.
  4. Photoreceptors gather visual information by absorbing light and ultimately sending signals to the brain via the optic nerve.
  5. The brain processes the image, allowing us to see.
Diagram showing path of light through the eye (normal vision)
Source: nkcf.org

When the visual process is interrupted due to aging and/or eye disease, the result is decreased visual acuity, color intensity and contrast sensitivity. As contrast sensitivity decreases, more light becomes necessary in order to see. Decreased contrast sensitivity is a normal symptom of aging but is typically intensified in the presence of other eye conditions such as macular degeneration.

We can also think about the light requirement of our eyes in terms of aging. Studies show that in order to experience the same perception of brightness, a 60 year-old adult typically requires around 15 times as much light as a 10-year-old child.

Contrast sensitivity sample image
A person with normal visual acuity but poor contrast sensitivity might see the trees in the foreground clearly (high contrast), but have trouble seeing the contours of the mountains against the sky in the background (low contrast).
Pelli Robson contrast sensitivity chart
The Pelli Robson contrast sensitivity chart tests your ability to detect letters that are gradually less contrasted with the white background as your eyes move down the chart. (Source: allaboutvision.com)

Diagram comparing healthy eye vs. eye with degenerated macula
Source: rgbeyeassociates.com

Macular Degeneration

The macula is the light-sensitive area of the retina. Its job is to manufacture clear, sharp vision in the central visual field. As it breaks down, central vision deteriorates while peripheral vision remains intact.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions causing damage to the optic nerve due to abnormally high pressure in the eye. Early detection and treatment are key to managing the disease.

Retinitis Pigmentosa

The photoreceptor cells of the retina, responsible for converting light into electrical impulses for the brain, gradually degenerate and eventually stop working.

Diagram of normal eye vs. eye with presbyopia. The lens ages and stiffens, bringing the focal point behind the retina and causing blurry vision.
Source: rosineyecare.com

Aging (presbyopia)

With aging, the lens hardens and loses flexibility, no longer changing shape to focus on close-up images. Images are often blurry, and more light may be needed to see.

The most important aspect of lighting for low vision

Low vision lights, such as low vision reading lamps or low vision floor lamps, must have thoughtfully designed controls. Those with visual impairment should exert maximum control over their lighting environment to enhance functional vision and overall quality of life. Each person is different, and each may have unique sensitivities to different types of bulbs, light colors, and intensities. The goal is to find the most comfortable lighting set-up that allows you to see better while reducing eye strain.

Low vision lights should incorporate the best bulbs for low vision

LEDs are easily adjustable, remain cool to the touch, and are environmentally friendly and more economical than traditional lightbulbs. When integrated with a flexible lamp that is designed to diffuse light evenly, LEDs are the best lighting solution for low vision.

Low vision lights: Quality matters

When it comes to LEDs, not all bulbs are created equal. Bulbs from well-known, trusted brands are built-to-last and provide the most direct light while using less power. Additionally, the best low vision reading lamps and low vision floor lamps have high-quality diffusers that distribute light uniformly for optimal viewing.

Low vision reading lamps

Image of poorly-lit workspace using only ceiling light. Low vision reading lamps are essential to preventing eye strain.

In general, only about 12.5% of ceiling light falls on your working area. That’s why task lighting is crucial to preventing eye strain.

Low vision floor lamps

Low vision floor lamps improve ambient room lighting.

Floor lamps are versatile, providing targeted lighting for your workspace while also increasing the amount of ambient light in your room.

What are the best low vision lights? The results are in!

So, is there an LED lamp that synthesizes all key components of lighting for low vision? We’ve been on a quest to find one… a lamp that transforms living and working spaces for the visually impaired. After extensive research, testing, and talking to consumers, we’re excited to share our findings with you. Because lighting is everything!

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