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Lighting Considerations

Sight requires light and as we age we need more of it. The kind of light, the colour, the brightness, the direction, all contribute to how well we do see.

More light please!

At age 65 we need twice as much light to see as well as we did at age 20, and a third again as much at 80! Even without considering macular degeneration. 1

Finding the right light

I’ve decided it’s time to replace the rather small ceiling light fixture above my dining table. That dining table is also my work table, my computer desk, my fabric cutting table. In a combination living-dining room, finding the correct fixture has not been easy. I am still searching.

Re-evaluating our living spaces

As we age, it becomes more important to re-evaluate our living spaces on a regular basis. For those of us with macular degeneration, that means especially checking the lighting. Not only do our needs change, but the types of lighting available to us is constantly being improved.

Lumens and dimmability

Using online calculators, I’ve already determined I need 3000 to 4000 lumens, which can then be dimmed for most activities. Dimmable LED bulbs are available but require a dimmer switch that specifies it’s for LED. My present fixture is LED dimmable and gets dimmed every evening for dinner. I definitely want this feature again.

The dining room rule

For me, the fixture needs to be about 23 inches in diameter. The general rule for choosing the right size for a dining room is to add the width and length of your room and use that number in inches. Or use 1/2 to 2/3 the width of the table. This will determine the approximate diameter that will look best.

I will still use my swing arm floor lamp as a task light for reading, (it’s also dimmable) but for a quick look at something, or cutting fabric, the ceiling fixture will work well enough.

Light colours

Another important consideration is choosing the correct bulb colour ‘temperature’ which is measured in Kelvin (K). A bulb that produces light seen as yellowish-white will have a colour temperature of around 2700K. As the colour temperature increases to about 3000K to 3500K the colour of the light appears more white.

Warm, neutral, light in the range of 3500 to 4000 seems to be what will work best for me. The higher the K value, the cooler, more blue the appearance of the light. When the colour temperature is 5000K or higher the light produced appears blue-white and will cause more glare. So the direction of the light may need to be adjusted to help reduce glare on the work surface.

Making decisions

I’ve been comparing light fixtures both online and by window shopping, but I find it difficult to choose without seeing them “up close and personal” as they say. With Covid-19’s second wave upon us, I think it will be a while yet.

Has anyone had recent experience with a purchase like that might make this decision easier? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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