It’s no secret that proper lighting can make a huge difference for both the sighted and the visually impaired when it comes to everyday tasks. Yes, sometimes the simplest things can make an incredible improvement in an AMD patient’s quality of life; and ensuring appropriate lighting is certainly one of those difference makers.
Those with retinal conditions like macular degeneration already know the value of adequate lighting and an AMD diagnosis usually means more lamps around the house, brighter bulbs and light fixtures in high risk places such as stairways, hallways and closets. Of course, even something as seemingly simple as lighting is not foolproof. In fact, from glare to bulb type to wall colour, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to providing optimal lighting. Below you’ll find some helpful hints for modifying an environment to suit most individuals with low vision.
Halogen Bulbs: Halogen bulbs, available in virtually all hardware stores, produce a very bright, white light and are best for overall lighting in most rooms. Further, halogen bulbs cause less glare than most -a benefit for macular degeneration patients with glare and contrast sensitivities.
LED lamps: LED lamps are another great option. They provide quality light without doing further damage to the eyes.
Task Lighting: With macular degeneration, more light becomes necessary to continue activities such as reading, writing, knitting and cooking, for example. ‘Task lighting’ can improve contrast of text and help to break through the ‘blurriness’ in vision. Goose-neck lamps work well for hobbies like reading and writing due to their flexibility.
Setting: Have several light sources around the room rather than one bright light in the center of the room, for example. Try moving your light sources around the room and experiment with what gives off an even spread of light with fewer dark corners.
De-Shine: Glare is caused by light reflecting off of shiny surfaces. This includes polished surfaces, flooring, walls and mirrors alike. Glare can really prevent low vision sufferers from optimizing what’s left of their vision. Thus, avoid polishing floors or furniture and remove polish from items where possible. Additionally, don’t use gloss or semigloss paint on the walls; choose a matte finish instead.
Accessibility: Pay close attention to lighting access and control. Be sure that switches are located where they can easily be found. Also be sure that the plates surrounding your light switches contrast the colour of the walls. Another good idea is to invest in ‘clapper lights’ or lights that can be controlled via remote control.
Glare: We all know that glare can be an annoying issue and it can become increasingly bothersome with age. Be sure that drapes and or blinds are able to reduce the sunlight coming through the windows. Tinted shades or blue filtering glasses can also help minimize the effects of glare.
Even Lighting: It’s important to try to keep all rooms evenly lit since it’s difficult for eyes to constantly adjust from bright light to low light.
Think Pink: When writing or jotting down memos, try to use pink or other pastel coloured paper. Using pink paper actually helps reduce glare and makes documents more visible.
Although macular degeneration can deprive individuals of central vision, it does not have to take away one’s independence or quality of life. With some minor adjustments and improvements in indoor lighting, most macular degeneration patients can function much more successfully.