Lighting for Low Vision

The following article addresses lighting options for those with low vision to maximize their eyesight while reducing the eye strain and discomfort that is common when using powerful lamps.


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What Kind of Lighting Is Ideal For Low Vision?

Generally speaking, most houses have very low light, when compared to the outside, or the kind of lighting found in supermarkets. People diagnosed with low vision often benefit from certain types of lighting to aid them in their daily activities. No type of lighting is suitable for everyone. It varies according to the individual and according to the specific ocular condition. Furthermore, certain lighting may be effective for an eye disorder in its earliest stages but may require changes as the condition progresses.

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Low Vision Conditions That Might Require Special Lighting

People who may benefit from such lighting include:

  • People born with low vision
  • Those who sustain an injury to the optic nerve
  • People with degenerative conditions such as inoperable cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration
Types of Lamps

Types of Lamps

An optimal environment for those with low vision utilizes proper lighting throughout the house or workstation, with judicious use of floor lamps, ceiling lamps, swing arm lamps, table lamps, and overhead ceiling lights.

  • Cabinet lighting: These lights can be very helpful in the kitchen or workspaces. They provide focused light with the added benefit of reduced glare if they are installed below eye level. 
  • Ceiling fan: Bright ceiling lighting enables ease of overall navigation around the house.
  • Portable lamps: There are many options for portable LED lights that can be taken out of the house to assist with daily activities such as finding your keys in poorly lit areas, reading a menu in a dark restaurant, or with general reading material. Patients with low vision will often find tremendous benefit from having powerful full spectrum lamps in areas of the house where they require additional visual clarity, for example located next to a favorite reading chair.
Types of Lamps

Types of Lamps

Lighting will often feel bright for the first few days but we tend to adjust to it very quickly. The following suggestions may be beneficial for maintaining a properly illuminated environment. 

  • Light timers: Set optimal settings to a timer, to maintain optimal vision on a schedule.
  • Lamp shades: Lighter-colored lamp shades provide more illumination than dark ones.
  • Placement: The effects of glare can be difficult for people with low vision. The ideal type of lighting can be found with the use of focused lamps which provide full spectrum lighting.
  • Low vision lighting should be situated below eye vision whenever possible to help reduce difficulties with glare. Select a place for the computer screen where it does not receive direct light from a window. 
  • Moving a lamp closer to an object will reduce shadows. 
  • It is preferable to use several lamps in a room rather than one to maintain light equality throughout the room. 
  • Lighting will often feel bright for the first few days but we tend to adjust to it very quickly.
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Lighting for Visual Impairment

Lighting for Visual Impairment

There are many types of lighting for low vision patients. If you have low vision and would like to know more, speak with our low vision optometrist or a low vision occupational therapist to determine what lighting options are available, and how to utilize them most effectively for your personal needs. Our low vision doctor is trained in getting you the best lighting that matches your needs for daily activities and your budget.

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