Older Adults Experience More Vision Difficulties at Home – Make Things Brighter

safe lighting(From JAMA) Adults have better vision in clinics rather than at home, due to poor home lighting, according to a study by Anjali M. Bhorade, M.D., MSCI, of the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, and colleagues. Clinicians often assume that vision measured in the clinic is equivalent to vision at home, according to the study background. However, many patients report visual difficulties greater than expected based on their vision testing in the clinic. Between 2005 and 2009, researchers studied 126 patients with and 49 without glaucoma (ages 55 to 90 years old) from the Glaucoma and Comprehensive Eye Clinics at Washington University in St. Louis. Patients underwent clinic and home visits and several aspects of their vision were measured. According to study findings, the mean scores for all vision tests were better in the clinic than at home for the participants. Glaucoma patients read two or more lines on an eye chart better in the clinic than at home and 39 percent of advanced glaucoma patients read three or more lines better in the clinic. Participants in the clinic also tested better in near visual acuity (NVA) and contrast sensitivity (CS) with glare. Lighting was the largest factor associated with difference in vision between the clinic and home; home lighting was below what was recommended for 85 percent or more of participants. So we obviously want to start lighting our house better. Seniors, 65 years and older, can sometimes require twice as much light as younger people.

  • Looks for ways to add plenty of natural light. More windows and skylights are better. And natural light could improve sleeping habits and decrease depression.
  • Consider paints that reflect more light and replacing heavy drapery with shearer material.
  • Install lights under counters. Install lights in areas where you are spending time working.
  • Install rocker light switches light with a backlight or night-light in them.
  • Light closets and the laundry room.
  • Make sure that steps and walkways are clearly lit.
  • Increase the wattage of the existing lighting.
  • Put additional lights in hallways and stairways.
  • Leave lights on in other rooms that may be passed through in middle of the night during trips to the bathroom.

Better lighting not only aids eyesight, it can prevent unwanted falls.