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Top 8 Lighting Tips for People With Low Vision

You’ve got Low Vision and you need some ways of minimizing the effects on your daily activities. One of the best ways to do this is with lighting. Changing the lighting in your home or office can make a significant, positive impact on your functional vision.
Check out Dr. Paul Woolf‘s tips for making life with Low Vision more manageable.

Home Is Where the Light Is

Older Woman with Low Vision, Posing with Adult Daughter

Home may be where the heart is, but the lighting is pretty important, too. You may have fixtures that are elegant and classy, fun and colorful, or basic and functional. But no matter how they look on the outside, the bulbs inside are central to how you spend your days and nights.

Using brighter bulbs can give you better vision clarity, so that you can easily maneuver around the things in your home. Using dimmer bulbs may help prevent uncomfortable reactions to strong lights and glare, or simply make it easier to recognize the faces of the people around you.

What’s Your Type?

Thanks to advancements in technology and interior design, there are various types of lighting to choose from without compromising on style, décor, or functionality
Let’s briefly review the 4 most common types of light bulbs:

Incandescent: Although close to natural sunlight, this type of light tends to be concentrated on a few areas, leaving others in a bit of shadow or glare. It is also no longer mass produced since the mid-2000’s when more energy efficient bulbs hit the market.

Halogen: A type of incandescent bulb that is more energy efficient with a longer life. It provides a strong light with great illumination in a room and is best for viewing contrast between objects, images, and surroundings.

Fluorescent: A happy combination of brightness and safety, these bulbs are manufactured in a variety of brightness levels and colors. They are used in both commercial and residential spaces and in the outdoors and indoors, so they offer a lot of versatility.

LEDs: Perhaps the most popular type of lighting due to its many applications, Light-Emitting Diodes (or LEDs, for short) are the most energy

efficient and longest-lasting bulbs on the market. They are best used for when you need light concentrated on a certain spot for a specific function or task. They also come in a variety of colors and designs.

In addition to choosing the right light bulbs, it’s important to understand the difference between lux, lumens, wattage, and CRI (Color Rendering Index). That’s because they can have a big impact on the quality of life for people with vision difficulties Lux is a way of measuring how intense a light is, also known as ‘illumination’. For example, a typical living room probably has 50 lux, while a grocery store or shopping mall may have closer to 750 lux.Grandmother with Low Vision, Wearing Eyeglasses Lumen means how much light is emitted from a particular lighting source. The higher the lumen, the brighter the light. Wattage is the amount of energy that a product consumes, similar to a mobile phone battery’s usage.
Color Rendering Index, or CRI, is how a lighting source displays color when compared to natural light. So you may see something in

the sunlight that looks dark green, while in artificial light, it may appear a much brighter shade of green.
Both Lux and CRI are the most important factors for your lighting needs because they affect how you see the world.

Keep Doing What You Love

With Macular Degeneration and other eye diseases, it’s essential to use different kinds of lighting for the things you do every day, like reading, writing, watching TV, going online, shopping, or cooking. Bright lights may work best for doing housework, while low lights may be the most comfortable for reading or watching TV.

Dr. Paul Woolf will be happy to recommend the light bulbs that are the most comfortable for doing the things you love.

Timing Is Everything

Day or night can make a huge difference in your Low Vision lighting needs. For example, putting your living room lights on a timer so that the lights go on in the evenings and off before going to sleep makes your life just a little bit easier. Automatic dimmers let you control the brightness of lights, while smart sensors or motion-detectors can turn on or off simply by walking near them.

Maybe It’s The Lamp

When you need light to view something close up, try using a swivel lamp. It lets you move the light exactly where you’d like it to be. Flexible floor lamps give the right amount of illumination without causing eye strain or headaches, especially helpful for Glaucoma patients. Special Low Vision lamps let you control magnification, position, or even the color of the light, from a soft yellowish white to a brighter pure white.

Mimic The Sun

Senior Woman with Low Vision, Wearing Eyeglasses

Natural sunlight can be either beneficial or harmful for Low Vision patients, depending on how mild or severe their case may be. For some, sunlight

can be helpful when reading a book or writing. For those with sensitivity to light, the brightness can cause a glare or pain. In these cases, patients should use lamps that simulate sunlight, without the harmful side effects.

 

Don’t Leave Home Without It

It’s a fast-paced world out there. Take your lighting devices with you! A small pen light can help you read a menu in a dark restaurant, find your keys in a parking garage, or open the door when coming home at night. Even in brighter light, a handheld lighting device can give you a small, focused light wherever and whenever you need it most.

Distance Makes The Light Grow Fonder

Many Low Vision patients have trouble with distance vision. Viewing an image or object from a distance is just as important as the level of brightness in the room. That’s why it’s necessary to use Low Vision lighting tools that are completely adjustable so they aren’t placed at a fixed distance. Being able to move the neck of a desk lamp, for instance, makes it easier to see a book or photo with greater clarity.

Go ahead and try these lighting tips to help your day-to-day functioning with Low Vision. Dr. Paul Woolf can tell you where to buy these kinds of light bulbs and devices. If you have any questions or concerns, speak with our staff at Low Vision Center At Woolf Eye Care and we’ll be glad to help.

Mental Health and Your Vision

May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the USA; in Canada, Mental Health week is May 6th to 12th. Since 1949, it has been observed throughout the United States as a way of drawing attention to the importance of proper mental health. This year’s theme is #4Mind4Body. The idea is that using elements around us, such as the people in our lives, faith, nature, and even pets, can strengthen wellness and overall mental health.

Did you know that your vision can affect your mental health? While things like stress, trauma, and family history are factors that impact mental health, vision can also impact it.

How Does Vision Affect Mental Health?

Certain types of eye diseases and visual impairments can lead to emotional problems like anxiety and depression. This is particularly common in cases of severe vision loss. Patients with glaucoma, macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy, for example, can experience mild to acute vision loss. This can make everyday activities like driving, running errands, watching TV, using a computer, or cooking, a difficult and painful experience. When this happens, it can cause a loss of independence, potentially leaving the person mentally and emotionally devastated.

Like most surgical procedures, LASIK corrective surgery is permanent and irreversible. Although it has very high success rates, LASIK has been considered the cause of depression and mental health issues in a few instances.

Kids’ Vision and Mental Health

Increased screen time among school-age children and teens has been shown to reduce emotional stability and cause repeated distractions and difficulty completing tasks, while also increasing the likelihood of developing nearsightedness.

Kids with visual problems often experience difficulty in school. If they can’t see the board clearly or constantly struggle with homework due to poor vision, they may act out their frustration or have trouble getting along with their peers.

Coping with Vision Problems

One of the most important ways to cope with visual problems is awareness. Simply paying attention to the signs and symptoms — whether the patient is an adult or a child — is a crucial first step. 

Family members, close friends, colleagues, parents, and teachers can all play an important role in detecting emotional suffering in those with visual difficulties. Pay attention to signs of changes in behavior, such as a loss of appetite, persistent exhaustion, or decreased interest in favorite activities.

Thankfully, many common vision problems are treatable. Things like double vision, hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), amblyopia (lazy eye), and post-concussion vision difficulties can be managed. Vision correction devices, therapeutic lenses, visual exercises, or special prism glasses may help provide the visual clarity you need. Your primary eye doctor can help and a vision therapist or low vision expert may make a significant impact on your quality of life.

How You Can Help

There are some things you can do on your own to raise awareness about good mental health:

Speak Up

Often, just talking about mental health struggles can be incredibly empowering. Ask for help from family and friends or find a local support group. Be open and honest about what you’re going through and talk with others who are going through the same thing. Remember: you’re not alone.

If you experience any type of sudden changes to your vision — even if it’s temporary — talk to your eye doctor. A delay in treatment may have more serious consequences, so speak up and don’t wait.

Get Social

Developing healthy personal relationships improves mental health. People with strong social connections are less likely to experience severe depression and may even live longer. Go out with friends, join a club, or consider volunteering.

Have an Animal

Having a pet has been shown to boost mental health and help combat feelings of loneliness. Guide dogs can be especially beneficial for people suffering from vision loss.

Use Visual Aids

If you or a loved one is experiencing mental health issues caused by vision loss, visual aids can help. Devices like magnifiers or telescopic lenses can enlarge text, images, and objects, so you can see them more clearly and in greater detail.

Kids can benefit from vision correction like glasses, contacts, or specialized lenses for more severe cases of refractive errors. Vision therapy may be an option, too. It is a customized program of exercises that can improve and strengthen visual functions.

Always talk to your eye doctor about any concerns, questions, or struggles. 

Thanks to programs like Mental Health Awareness Month, there is less of a stigma around mental health than just a few decades ago. Advancements in medical technologies and scientific research have led to innovative solutions for better vision care.

During this Mental Health Awareness Month, share your share your struggles, stories, and successes with others. Use the hashtag #Mind4Body and give your loved ones hope for a healthy and high quality of life.

 

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