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The Best Lighting for the Elderly with Bad Eyesight

Updated July 20, 2017

Everyday activities can become a challenge for the elderly whose homes lack proper lighting. Older people require more light to see, and choosing the right lighting source requires considering glare and contrast. Without proper lighting, even walking around a home can be dangerous for the elderly person.

More Light

As eyes age, pupils become smaller. Consequently, less light hits the retina, which sends visual information to the brain. While a 20-year-old may be able to read inside a dimly lit coffee shop, the elderly person will require more light to see well.

Reduce Glare

It is important to reduce glare when considering proper lighting, as glare can have a blinding effect on older eyes. Common sources of glare include sunlight coming through windows and reflecting off mirrors. The use of indirect lighting -- like hanging window coverings such as blinds and drapes -- is one way to decrease problems with glare.

Natural Light is Best

Natural light -- and artificial lighting that simulates natural sunlight -- is best. Eighty per cent of Vitamin D is produced in the skin of a healthy human body when exposed to natural light. Of course, when providing natural lighting in the home, consider glare. Depending on the time of day, sunlight streaming from windows may be more or less intense and should be modified. Several artificial lighting sources simulate natural light.

Providing Contrast

In addition to needing adequate lighting, some senior citizens struggle with contrast between objects. This makes it harder to see the edges of things like steps and chair seats. It is helpful to provide contrast between the floor and surrounding objects to improve safety. Placing brightly coloured tape on the edges of steps -- or simply painting the edges a different colour, so that design follows function -- is one way to provide a visual cue to older eyes.

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About the Author

Annie Rains has been writing professionally since 1999, when she contributed to her college newspaper. She has been published in "Crystal Coast Parents," a local magazine in North Carolina. Rains holds a Bachelor of Science in occupational therapy from East Carolina University and works as a pediatric occupational therapist.