Low Vision Lighting

Low vision lighting can help you see details clearer and reduce your need for magnification. Lighting needs increase as you age and especially for those with dry or wet macular degeneration.

The right lighting can make a big difference in your ability to read, enjoy a magazine or perform a hobby.

Sometimes it's the simple things that can really make a difference in our lives - and providing good lighting might just be one of those simple things that you can do to make a huge difference.

Lighting is not only important for near vision tasks, but also for safety and for getting around your home with better visibility. One recent change we made in our own home was to replace a floor lamp that had a dark shade and low wattage. The new lamp has a white  shade and has two bulbs rather than one. The lamp features a 3 way switch which provides a maximum light bulb wattage of 150 watts. It is a much better and brighter light for our living room.


More Lights and Better Lighting

One of the most important things for you to know if you have macular degeneration is that - you need more light! Simple as that. You will need

√ more lamps around the house and

√ brighter bulbs.

Low vision lighting includes lots of light fixtures. Make sure you have ample light fixtures, floor or table lamps that ensure your safety - near

stairs,

hallways,

closets, and

around furniture.

Many people find it helpful to put some lights on timers so that as it gets dark, rooms or hallways are automatically lit.

1. The halogen torchere lamp provides the best brightness for overall room light.

2. A gooseneck adjustable floor or table lamp is best for detailed work. With this lamp you can bend the lamp to a position that directs the light to exactly where you need it. There are also clip on models so you can place one almost anywhere.

3. Get lamps that offer 3-way lighting. That way you can increase the lighting up to 150 watts for reading.

4. Get lamps that simulate the sun without the glare

Sunlight -Help or Hinder

For some people allowing as much sunlight into their home is helpful while others need to filter it because their eyes have become light sensitive.   

For those who benefit from a sunny room, use it to do certain tasks like crossword puzzles, writing checks, or reading.

Place a chair near a window for daytime reading. Natural sunlight for reading can be helpful for some but not for everyone. Put your chair with its back against the window so that the sunlight falls onto your book or project.

For those who are light sensitive, window shades that filter sunlight can help light up a room but reduce glare. 

Blue Light Hazard - Indoors and Out

Many people are aware of the dangers of ultra-violet light, but unaware that another spectrum of light, called blue light may also impact the health of one's macula, especially those that have macular diseases or at risk for them.

Dan Roberts, the Director of www.MDSupport.org and author of The First Year: Age-Related Macular Degeneration: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed , shares with us what blue light is, how it affects the retina, and how to protect our eyes from its damage.

Blue Light Hazard

What Light Bulbs are Best

Use the brightest light bulbs recommended for each light fixture. There are severa different kinds of light bulbs.

√ Fluorescent

Although they provide the brightest light, fluorescent lighting usually causes the most glare

√ Halogen

Halogen bulbs cause less glare but they can be too hot for some lamps. Just like the fluorescent bulbs, halogen bulbs can only be used in halogen lamps.

As a desk lamp, they do provide the best "brightness." Many of the torchere lamps are halogen lamps and provide better low vision lighting to a room.

√ LED Lights

Provide bright, cool lighting and the bulbs last for thousands of hours

√ Full Spectrum Lighting

This lighting enhances color and contrast and mimics sunlight. However, some eye specialists warn against using full spectrum lights because it contains blue light which is known to cause damage to the retina.

Halogen Desk Lamp

Peggy Wolfe the author of Macular Disease: Practical Strategies for Living with Vision Loss suggests "Look for a lamp that comes with a halogen bulb if you want really strong light."

Dan Roberts the author of The First Year: Age-Related Macular Degeneration: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed writes about his favorite low vision lighting at his desk; “For near-vision tasks, we placed white halogen lighting at my desk...”

A halogen desk lamp provides bright task lighting for those with macular degeneration. Halogen bulbs are brighter than regular incandescent or LED light bulbs which is why many people with macular degeneration (AMD) prefer these bulbs for their task lighting - for doing things like reading bills, writing checks and performing hobbies.

The need for light is greater because of the degeneration of rods and cones in the retina. In fact some eye specialists state that those with AMD need four times more light than those with normal vision.

It is important that you use an adjustable lamp, like this gooseneck one, so that the light can be directed onto your reading material or your hobby. Position the light so that it is directed or aimed right at your project or reading material. Often times with better illumination the need for magnification is less.

Many people find that this type of lighting also enhances contrast. Please be aware that halogen desk lamps can get very hot. The instructions will tell you not to leave the lamp unattended and do not place it near anything that is flammable. You may have to experiment to find the type of light that works best for you.

Amazon offers a halogen desk lamp that provides a really bright light and a sturdy base:

Halogen Desk Lamp with Fully Adjustable Gooseneck Column and Euro Style Rocker Switch

Gooseneck Floor Lamp

A gooseneck floor lamp can be placed next to your favorite reading chair or close to your bed for better lighting while reading.

This lamp uses a crisp white LED lighting which means you'll probably never have to replace the light bulb. The benefit to this type of bulb is that it doesn't generate heat and stays cool to the touch. 

Another nice feature for this lamp is that the light switch stays lit as a mini-night light,  so that the light switch is easy to find. 

Brightech LED Reading and Crafting Floor Lamp - Dimmable Full Spectrum LED Light - Fully Adjustable Neck

Ott Lamp

Ott lighting is a low vision lighting that simulates natural day light. It provides a natural looking light that enhances contrast, reduces glare and provides better clarity.

As your macular degeneration (AMD) progresses, your need for improved lighting increases... and brighter isn't always better. The best light for visual and color clarity is sunlight. Any light that simulates the sun is helpful to someone with AMD. Colors are crisper, contrast is better and there is less glare. An Ott lamp can come in many different styles - as a desk lamp or a floor lamp.

An Ott Lite floor lamp with an optional magnifier, can be placed near your reading chair, desk, work bench or hobby area. The adjustable height allows the light to be positioned right where you need it.

This technology provides light that:

reduces eye strain

simulates day light

has low heat

reduces glare

provides superior image and color

enhances contrast.

The less glare the less eye strain, making it possible to read or perform your hobbies for a longer period of time.  Many low vision specialists recommend this type of lighting. This adaptable lamp is available at Amazon. It comes with a table clamp, a floor stand and a base to use as a desk lamp. Also, attached to the main section of the unit is a clip for holding directions, pictures or patterns.

OttLite Adjustable-Height Craft Floor Lamp with Magnifier and Clip

Swing Arm Desk Lamp

Light that can be directed onto your reading material or hobby will help you continue to do the things you enjoy. Either an adjustable arm or a gooseneck will make it possible to position the light in a way that brightens up your reading page or task.

Less magnification is needed when task lighting is used.

The closer the light is to the object or material the better the illumination. The farther the light is from your task, then you'll experience less lighting and lower visibility. A few inches can make a big difference.

At one of our visits to see my father-in-law who has wet macular degeneration I was surprised to see that there were no swing arm or goose neck lamps. Just regular table lamps or overhead lighting were his sources of light.

To perform tasks like going through the mail, reading, or performing a hobby requires a lamp that has an adjustable arm. The light needs to be brought close and directed right near the reading material or hobby like this architectural swing arm lamp ...

Newhouse Lighting Energy-Efficient Architect LED Desk Lamp

There are several styles of swing arm desk lamps - desk lamps that can be used in the office or as clamp on lights for the garage, work bench or hobby table. 

If you are still having trouble seeing with better lighting and correct positioning of the desk lamp, then consider a swing arm magnifying lamp - a lamp that provides light and magnification.

The mounting clamp on this light is very sturdy while the swing arm provides many different adjustable positions to make it possible to do detailed work with less eye strain. A clamp on light can be used at your desk, work bench or craft table which means it doesn't take up any valuable space.

The 90 LED lights are bright and cool. They last thousands of hours so there is no need to replace the bulbs.

It has a 5" diameter glass lens and the arm can be positioned in any way that's needed.

90 LED Magnifier Lamp - Adjustable Arm - 5" Lens

Floor Lamp Magnifier

A floor lamp magnifier is a great visual aid to have for reading or for hobbies like sewing. Set it next to your favorite chair and enjoy reading again.

This lighted magnifier features 12 LED  lights and a large, full page size magnifier that measures 8" by 10". 

Combine that with 3X Magnification and you will find this combination may give you the light and magnification that is needed to enjoy your favorite books, newspaper or magazines.

LED Lighted Magnifier Floor Lamp

The Mighty Pen Flashlight

My father-in-law who has wet macular degeneration won't go anywhere without his pen flashlight. There is nothing like taking "light" with you wherever you go. He uses it to help read a menu in a dark restaurant, check the buttons on the microwave or to find get a plug into an outlet.

The other benefit to a pen flashlight is that it is directed light. Often overhead lighting or a table lamp just doesn't provide enough light.

With a penlight you can direct the light right onto the item - whether it is a prescription bottle, a can of soup or the remote control The penlight we purchased is the Streamlight MicroStream.

It is a small investment of $20 for a maximum return. It is definitely one of my father-in-laws favorite visual aids because it is so practical and functional.

The LED light means there is no light bulb to burn out and the 3 1/2 inch size means it can easily fit into his pants pocket or clip onto his shirt. This one takes a single AAA battery making it easy to replace.

Just press the cap to turn it on or off. Having bright, directed light can prevent lots of frustration. It's a simple solution for providing more light wherever you go.

Motion Activated Lights

Wouldn't it be great if you could walk into a room and the lights would automatically turn on and turn off when you left? How about the front hall light going on when coming in at night or the laundry room would light up when your hands are full of dirty clothes?

Using motion detecting light switches is a convenient way to light up your way to prevent fumbling for switches when you enter a dark bathroom or hallway at night. 

Lutron Maestro Motion Sensor Switch

Lighting Interview with Low Vision Specialist

Lighting recommendations can be made by the low vision specialist. They will help determine the best type of lighting for you that includes less glare and better contrast for reading or doing hobbies.

It is difficult to make a specific suggestion for lighting because every individual is different. Some lights may work great for one person but cause too much glare or discomfort for another person.

Often it will require some experimentation to find the best lamp/bulb for you and then in a couple of months it may change so that a new type of lighting may become necessary.

Alice Enault, a registered and licensed occupational therapist and certified low vision therapist provides some valuable answers to important questions on low vision lighting.

She sheds some "light" on different types of lighting and how to provide light in your home while reducing glare and maximizing task lighting.

Low Vision Lighting Interview with Alice

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