How to Optimize Your Light Source: Tips for the Visually Impaired

Have you ever been in a dark, poorly-lit room and then, with the flip of a switch, experienced a dramatic change in the way you perceived your environment? Good lighting impacts both how well we can see and how we feel.  

People who are visually impaired want to optimize their light sources so that they are able to have the best work or recreational experience possible. A few small changes can make a big difference.

Use Adjustable Lighting

Adjustable lighting usually comes with an arm or flexible head that allows you to direct light where you need it. Because daylight or overhead room lighting may not be directed enough to improve your visual perception, directed light is preferred for work that needs precision.

Adjustable lighting can be wall mounted or freestanding on a floor or desk. The key to adjustable lighting is its range of motion, not whether it is a specific type of lamp or fixture.

Light that comes over your shoulder is best for reading. If you are right-handed, position the light over your left shoulder. If you are left-handed, place the light over your right shoulder. This eliminates any shadowing from your hand as you hold the book.

In areas that aren’t wired for lamps or additional switches, stick-on lights can be used. With a quick touch, you can use stick-on lights to illuminate awkward areas of shadow, such as the dark corners of a closet or pantry.

When outside of your home, gain control of the lighting situation by bringing a portable lamp or flashlight. Flashlights can be useful for reading restaurant menus, and portable lamps give you hands-free illumination when playing card games or writing and taking notes.

Some lamps also incorporate a magnifier so that you have lighting and hands-free magnification all in one package. Just make sure that the lighting source you choose is not too bright. When you walk away from your task, you don’t want there to be too big of an adjustment for your eyes. You should still be able to see the room around you.

Reduce Glare

One way to help with the brightness and glare factor is to position your adjustable light source no more than six inches away from your task. If the light is too bright, or glare is reflecting into your eyes, reposition the lamp.

When using a magnifier in conjunction with your lamp, adjust the lamp to shine underneath the magnifier. This will prevent light from shining onto the lens of the magnifier and creating a painful glare.

To test out the potential glare on a book or project, set a small mirror on your workspace to see if any strong light reflects into your area of vision. If so, rearrange the space so that the light is bouncing away from your eyes. You don’t want your eyes to become injured or fatigued.

A dimmer switch is a great addition to reading lamps. Paper types differ, and you may need more light for a matte card stock than you do for a glossy photography book. A dimmer switch will allow you to adjust the intensity of lighting for different surface textures quickly.

Consider the Bulb Type

LED lights are energy efficient and generally cool to the touch. They cost more than the old incandescents but last a really long time. And less heat emission means that they aren’t adding extra heat to your house in the summer. Bonus! You will save on your air conditioning bill.

There are different measurements used to describe LED lights.

  • Kelvin is a measure of the color “temperature.” 6,000K is closer to daylight color. 3,000K is closer to the old incandescent light colors.
  • Lumens is a measure of brightness. Lux is a measure of density, or how bright the light is at a specific distance from the light source.

Recessed lights can be improved by using flood or spot bulbs. Flood bulbs offer good ambient lighting and spot bulbs are good for illuminating work areas, such as craft tables or kitchen counters.

Track lighting can provide a narrower beam than recessed lights, and they also use less energy. However, both track lighting and spot bulbs use halogen lights. Halogen lights are hot, and may not be allowed in certain settings, such as assisted living facilities.

Optimizing your lighting source when visually impaired is an important task to prioritize. Making small tweaks like these can make all the difference in how you see and feel in your work and home environments.

Looking for better illumination? Check out ILA’s selection of lamps and lighting for floor lamps, task lamps, bulbs, and more.

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