Better Lighting

Good lighting can make a big difference, especially if you are performing a task like reading or paying bills. It also creates a safer environment and helps to prevent accidents. As you age, the amount of light entering the eye is reduced, causing a reduction in vision, contrast and color. The type of lighting and its intensity, color and direction all affect an individual’s visual performance.

Too much OR too little light can be a problem for a person with low vision but each person responds differently. Test different kinds and levels of lighting to determine what is most comfortable for you. There are several kinds of lighting you can try.

You’ll often see lamps that are described as “Full Spectrum lighting”.  True “full spectrum” light includes the entire range of light and some of that light is damaging to your eyes. This is typically the kind of light used to grow plants indoors. What you want is a lamp that gives “natural light” which is the most comfortable for people with most visual pathologies.  Full spectrum bulbs are best when used in swing-arm lamps that can direct the lighting onto the task. The OTT Lite is an example of this type of bulb. Verilux is another brand. You can usually find these in craft stores, as they are used a lot for sewing.

Incandescent lighting provides a yellower, more direct light that is good for close work, like sewing or reading. It is the most common form of light bulb, frequently used in desk or table lamps.

Halogen lighting produces the brightest and whitest light. For some people with impaired sight, it can enhance contrast between print and background, but for others they generate too much glare. It also generates a lot of heat.

A newer form of lighting, with LED (liquid electrical display) lamps, has many advantages.  The quality of light provided is excellent, the color of the light is not damaging to the eyes, and the longevity and cost of the lighting is attractive.  The first of these lights is from Berryessa Designs.  We find the “Junior” to be the design that is useful to most people.  Contact the company for special pricing for low vision patients. Click Here.

Fluorescent lighting disperses a blue-white light evenly and without shadows over a wide area. Because it generates a lot of light without using a lot of electricity, it is the type of lighting most often used in public places, such as supermarkets or offices. But it can create increased glare.


  • Put the light directly where it is needed.  Use small lamps that swivel and can be raised or lowered to help direct the light.
  • Direct the light over the shoulder of the eye with the best visual acuity or use lampshades that direct light onto a specific area rather than out into the room.
  • Wire your overhead fixtures to a dimmer switch in order to increase the amount of light in a room.
  • Position lamps near frequently used appliances. Under-cabinet lighting provides task lighting in the kitchen or work areas.
  • Provide extra lighting in stairs and hallways where it can be difficult to move around.
  • Pay attention to lighting access and control, making sure that switches are located where they can easily be found.
  • Contrast switchplates with the wall color or use switchplates that contain small lights.
  • Consider preset light timers for difficult areas.


Many people experience an increased sensitivity to glare as they age. Glare can be caused by sunlight, other lighting sources, and reflections from household sources. Drapes or blinds reduce sunlight coming in through windows. Polarized glass or tinted shades will eliminate glare.

If possible, choose furnishings with a flat or matte finish. Cover shiny surfaces with a cloth, blotter or construction paper. Carpet and nonslip floor finishes diffuse light to reduce glare. Optometrists can prescribe filters in glasses to reduce problems with glare when you are inside and outside.


  • Ott-Lite – More than 50 years ago, Dr. John Ott made history when his groundbreaking research resulted in what we now call OttLite lighting.
  • LazLight – This lamp works like a spotlight on your reading surface, and the gooseneck allows you to aim the light exactly where you want it.
  • Verilux – Verilux is dedicated to making the world a better place by providing visually efficient lighting products that simulate the full spectrum of natural light.
  • Berryessa Designs – desk or table lamps using safe LED technology. Ask for the AMD 50% discount on the Junior.