Why our eyes need more light as we age

Plentiful light becomes more important as our eyes age.

Photo credit: Can’t See from Far, image copyright Les Black, Flickr, CCBY-SA 2.0

Holding your book farther away from your eyes than you used to? Increasing the text size on your cell phone? Welcome to the club. As we age, our eyes and vision will inevitably begin to change, and, like with the rest of our body, it’s important to responsibly exercise our eyes and to properly care for our sight. One way we can care for our eyes is to avoid dimly lit settings. While not everyone experiences the same symptoms, many adults first notice problematic eyesight at close distances, especially when reading or working on the computer. As we age, well-lit spaces will make reading and other close-up tasks easier.

Lighting as we age

According to the American Optometric Association, which represents more than 35,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students, paraoptometric assistants and technicians, healthy eyes become more sensitive to light and glare as we age. Aging eyes require more contrast to see than they did during their younger years, as well as greater illumination levels.

Certain types of light can benefit us as we age. For example, uniform ambient lighting between rooms can help older eyes, as aging eyes take longer to adjust to changing light levels. Additionally, as we age, our eyes begin to restrict the amount of light admitted and absorbed and become increasingly sensitive. Providing more light and glare-free light is one easy way to assist middle-aged and senior individuals.

Increasing light outside the home

Ambient lighting for porches and outdoor areas is a great place to start. Pathway lights that connect parking areas to the entry areas of your home are a must during nighttime hours. However, typical porch lights with clear glass and bright light bulbs may cause glare and cause you to miss steps. Glare-free, energy-efficient, long-life bulbs and diffusing lenses will help prevent trips and falls.

Increasing light inside the home

When indoors, bring natural light in as much as possible. Whether you’re pulling back curtains, raising blinds or installing skylights, allowing natural light to flood your indoor space will prevent eyestrain when completing close-up tasks. Nevertheless, homeowners must be wary of sunlight streaming through windows as this light comes in at angle, many times increasing glare and creating bright and dark spaces within a room. If you are having trouble seeing details like rugs and stairs in your space, consider installing skylights. Skylights admit sunshine from above to achieve a more balanced, diffused light throughout the space.

Installing skylights in the living room, kitchen or hobby area is particularly advantageous as these spaces are primarily used for entertaining and task-oriented projects where substantial illumination is a must. A delicate balance of daylight and ambient light, with the addition of floor and table lamps, will make these spaces more comfortable.

You can read more tips on interior design and the use of natural light at whyskylights.com.

 

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