Low Vision Lighting Instructions

As one's macular degeneration progresses the need for more lighting and brighter or better lighting increases. Correct lighting may be one of the most important ways to enhance ones usable vision.

What type of lighting is best you may ask, well that depends ... according to Alice Enault, a registered and licensed occupational therapist and certified low vision therapist.

To help maximize the vision of someone with macular degeneration, one must provide good lighting.

So, to help us shed some "light" (excuse the pun)on this topic, Alice has answered some common questions on how to bring better and brighter light into your home so that you can live safely in your home and perform the tasks that are important to you.

Brighter is Not Always Better

1. Lighting needs increase for those with macular degeneration. Brighter is not always better. Explain the different kinds of low vision lighting that are available?

Light itself is a collection of rays traveling in straight lines. When these rays are bent by a lens or shape we are able to perceive the different color of rays.

Lighting as we use in lamps is usually referred to as incandescent or full spectrum. The light bulbs of the past that was used in most household lamps was incandescent. These bulbs bend the rays to give objects a warm yellow hue to give our homes a more subtle comfortable appearance.

The wattage of these bulbs actually refers to how much energy they use; tend to give off more heat as wattage is increased, cast shadows and decrease contrast and visibility for the eye with macular degeneration.

Full spectrum lighting is believed to simulate daylight, provide better visibility, and reduce eye fatigue by illuminating objects in a cool or blue-white manner.

Today’s newer forms of lighting such as compact florescent, high intensity discharge, and light emitting diodes (LED) are closer to or actually are full spectrum. These lights tend to direct the light to smaller areas, create fewer shadows, use less energy and give off less heat.

Best Lighting for Macular Degeneration

2. Is one type of low vision lighting better than another?

The different types of lights all have advantages and disadvantages.

Full spectrum directed lighting is usually the best for reading and uses less energy.

Its disadvantage can be in the cost, size, disposal needs, and unfamiliarity with these lamps.

The brightness of full spectrum lighting may create glare on highly reflective materials. Without an evaluation of your contrast sensitivity and usable vision by your low vision doctor you may be creating a disadvantage for yourself.

Consistency, concentration, targeting, length of task, glare, safety risks, and number of lamps and plugs available for use must also be considered in choosing the light that is best for you.

Different Lighting for Different Tasks

3. Does one need different lighting for different purposes and tasks? Please explain.

Different tasks and purposes are determiners of what type of low vision lighting you will use.

Lighting for accent and general room lighting is different than task lighting needs.

Pouring a cup of coffee, spot reading mail, full page reading all require adjustment of the light to the task.

How close the object needs to be to your eyes has a huge impact in choosing the light.

Add More Lights in Your Home

4. Those with AMD need not only better lighting, but more lighting. Give us some ideas on how to bring more light into the home.

Adding task lighting to specific areas of your home, work place, and leisure area are a few ways to add more lighting to your day.

Opening blinds, sitting near a window, using reflecting wall color are a few other ways to add lighting.

Reduce Glare

5. Since most people with macular degeneration are sensitive to glare, what are some tips to reduce glare in the home?

Window tinting, color changes, visors, and placement below the eyes of a task light are several ways to reduce glare in your home.

See a Low Vision Rehab Specialist

6. How can a low vision rehab specialist help with lighting needs?

A low vision rehab specialist is actually a team.

1. Your ophthalmologist for the health of your eye and related systems,

2. A low vision optometrist for evaluation of your usable vision field, contrast sensitivity, and best level of magnification, and a

3. Low Vision Occupational Therapy for training and accommodation needs are recommended.

It is not a quick 10 minute exam and it usually takes more than one training session. Dear readers’ I would like to thank you for your time and hope you have found this article helpful.

I further encourage you to realize adjustment to lighting without consideration of type, task, purpose, color, and contrast can result in unnecessary cost to you. The thing I most often hear from my patient’s is “why didn’t somebody tell me about this service before, it might have saved me a lot of frustration."

Alice Enault, OTR/L; CLVT

Alice Enault is a registered and licensed occupational therapist and certified low vision therapist. Alice has been providing low vision rehabilitation in concordance with Sonya Braudway OD; Low Vision Specialist since 2001.

Alice received her bachelors of science in occupational therapy from Eastern Michigan University. She received one of only fifteen American Occupational Therapy Foundation Scholarships awarded in 1987.

Alice’s career includes an advanced back ground in neurological, orthopedic, and cognitive disorders rehabilitation. Services are provided in clinic as well as at least one home visit when needed.

Alice Enault, OTR/L; CLVT CENTER FOR RETINA AND MACULAR DISEASE 250 Ave K SW, Suite 200 Winter Haven, Fl 33880

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