Lighting And Low Vision

New Technology Reading Lamps

As the aging eye becomes more opaque, less light reaches the retina. Reading can be easier by the aid of a good reading light.

Since sunlight is a factor in macular degeneration, lamps that mimic sunlight can have a negative effect on the eye. A significant factor is the spectrum – the different colors that make up the light. The colors of the visible spectrum are the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. The low energy red through the moderate energy violet are not harmful and are necessary for vision.  However, high energy ultra-violet light, mostly UV-B, is responsible for damage to materials, skin, and eyes. Eliminating UV-B from man made light sources is desirable and very prudent for lighting used by individuals over 40.  With new technology such as LED (Light Emitting Diode) light sources, it is possible to make a lamp that is tailored to people with macular degeneration. LEDs designed for reading lights have no UV and extremely low IR (Infra Red) emissions. They are very energy efficient without hot lamp surfaces or hot bulbs. The LEDs are long lasting – about 14 years at 8 hours usage per day. A lamp from Berryessa Designs is now available that uses LED light sources in a reading lamp that is easy on the eye. The table model “Junior” has a warm white light (no UV) with a wide area of illumination – an 11 inch reading radius. The lamp has a Color Rendering Index greater than 80 out of a possible 100.  The Color Rendering Index is a measure of how well the lamp’s light emission affects the appearance and vibrancy of an object’s color. The Junior has less glare than fluorescent lamps, no flicker and is much less bulky than lamps using fluorescent or incandescent bulbs since a single LED is less than the size of your little finger nail.  The lamp has many safety, operating, and environmental features. The entire head of the lamp feels no more than warm to the touch (50 C) – a nice safety factor and there is no bulb breakage possibilities.

Power consumption is about 8 watts (in contrast to other light sources, LEDs are very efficient) Consequently operating cost is very low – about 25 cents per month (based on 8 hours usage per day, 30 days in a month at a rate of $0.12/KWH).  The lamp is equipped with short circuit protection.  It has an attractive exterior, is sturdy yet weighs only 3.3 lbs. There are height and head position adjustments allowing the lamp to be positioned close to the person who is reading and to direct the light to the book or paper being read.

March 2011