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A Change in Lighting Helps Aging Eyesight

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A Change in Lighting Helps Aging Eyesight
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Everyone experiences changes in their eyesight as they age.

For many, it means buying reading glasses to read a menu, newspaper or other small print. According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), changing the lighting in your surroundings can go a long way to enhance reading ability and increase comfort.

“Often, the first thing people notice as they get older is their loss of ability to see distance,” notes Terry McGowan, director of engineering & technology for ALA and owner of Lighting Ideas in Cleveland. “That happens around age 45 and is called presbyopia. By 60, most people have a ‘fixed focus’ optical system and need glasses. After age 60, eye and visual system changes accelerate, so that less light reaches the eye. Therefore,” McGowan says, “people need more light to see details as they age.”

Paul Eusterbrock, president of Holkötter International, a lighting manufacturer that has championed lighting developments and products to help aging eyes, agrees. “The main issue is the quality of light,” he says. “Research shows that a 60-year-old needs twice as much light as a 30-year-old. Most of the commonly found lighting guidelines are written with the 30-year-old user in mind,” Eusterbrock explains.

Is there a magic light bulb that will work for everyone? McGowan and Eusterbrock say no. “This may sound strange, but the perfect bulb is whichever one the user finds works best for them,” McGowan says. “Individual vision varies so much – especially as people age – that it’s difficult to develop lighting recipes that are one-size-fits-all,” he says.

Whether you are old or young, the basic rules of good lighting apply: have sufficient illumination with little or no glare, and use diffused lighting to minimize shadows. If energy savings is a concern, McGowan recommends selecting compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and light emitting diode (LED) bulbs with warm tones (look for 2700-3000K on the box) and a high color-rendering index of 90 or more.

For expert advice from a certified lighting consultant (CLC) or accredited lighting specialist (LS), stop by an ALA-member lighting showroom. They will help you save time, frustration and money.

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