Did you know that the typical 60-year old adult only receives about 35% of the available light that the typical 20-year old does?

declining vision and aging in place

As we get older, there are many changes to our vision that require us to consider special lighting for our homes.  Here are 4 very common vision issues we’ll face as we age in place, and home lighting solutions to help you overcome them:

1. Less light reaches the eye.  When we age, our pupil size decreases, impeding light from reaching the retina.  This not only affects how bright objects appear, but also how sharply and clearly we see.  Here are some things to think about installing in your home:

  • Motion sensor lighting in entrances, hallways, and near stairs to make steps and potential hazards more visible.
  • Lighting under the upper cabinets in your kitchen to illuminate your countertops.
  • Adjustable task lighting in areas where you read, knit, do crafts, etc.
  • A motion sensor in the bathroom and/or LED lights around the bathroom door for when you use the bathroom during the night.
  • Light fixtures located on each side of your bathroom mirror (in addition to or instead of an overhead light), so that your face is illuminated on both sides when you’re shaving, applying make-up, etc.

bathroom lighting for poor eyesight and aging in place

2. The lens on our eye yellows.  This means we begin seeing colors in more of a yellow cast, like a newspaper yellowing over time!

  • Pay attention to the color cast of the light bulbs you install – some are warmer (more yellow) and some are cooler (more blue)!
  • For closets, install lighting with little or no color cast so you can easily distinguish between black and navy.

3. The lens on our eye thickens and develops cloudy patches, causing sensitivity to glare. There are two types of glare: direct glare from bright light and reflected glare that has bounced off a shiny surface. Glare is worse when a bright object is seen against a dark background, which is why driving at night with headlights becomes more difficult as we age.

  • Consider installing lights in soffits or purchasing fixtures which have shielding features to reduce direct glare.
  • Avoid glossy surfaces and finishes especially on large areas like floors and counters to reduce reflected glare.
  • Use diffusing shades instead of bare lightbulbs for lamps and decorative lighting.
  • Install dimmer switches to allow for adjustments according to the seasons and time of day.

declining vision and home lighting for aging in place

4. Our sensitivity to contrast and saturation declines. Lack of contrast can lead to falsely perceiving elevation and distances. It also takes longer for our eyes to adjust from a light to dark area.   Lack of saturation means red starts looking like pink and orange more like brown.

  • Think of ways to enhance contrast in key areas, such as stairs.  Add a contrasting color stripe to stair treads to make it easier to distinguish the edges.
  • Spread light evenly throughout a room to help wash out shadowy, dark areas.  A light wall color and white ceiling will maximize and diffuse light.

At Smart Accessible Living, we do a complimentary home walk-through with every customer.  This will allow us to help point out problem areas, such as inadequate lighting, so you (or your loved one) can safely age at home.  Please contact us today for more information on how our services can help make your home safe and comfortable now and well into the future!