The Spotlight on Low Vision Lighting
Living Safely, Seeing More Comfortably

Light that allows us to pursue our interests
Light that allows us to pursue our interests

Lately, I’ve been researching what kinds of lighting work best for various tasks for those with low vision. A definite fall out from the death of a florescent light in a  floor-length, goose-necked lamp my sister gave me years ago. That wonderfully-bright light bulb finally flickered its last bit of life before a pall came over my bed.

It will take months for me to track down the correct type, re-order it and have my life back on kilter. I guess I thought it would magically last a lifetime. I never once took measures to order another so that I could simply change it and allow my life to continue without disruption.

No, that’s not my way.

Just call me Light-for-Life Amy.

If only these Low Vision suppliers sold an Aladdin’s Lamp  that I could rub. A genie would come out and blink three times and I’d have that light bulb replaced in an instant.

But I didn’t so I began to research, and checked with other vision impaired friends as well to get their scoop on what worked best. I figured I might as well make some other changes while I was at it.

1. Florescent Lights

Immediately after my blind friend moved into his new apartment, I started receiving updates on the modifications he had made to his place. One of the first changes was the florescent lighting he added. “It makes me see better,” he said. “Somehow it’s easier on my eyes, too.”

That’s for sure. Same for me. Natural lighting and certain types of fluorescent lighting don’t tax your eyes as much. Plus, vision-impaired people need roughly 3 times the amount of light that people with normal vision use to complete the same task. I found this and other helpful information in an article  about lighting

2. Directional Lighting
task lighting.jjpgI also need the brighter light to spotlight whatever I am doing. For example, at the computer, I need a light to shine on the computer screen and keyboard. When I’ve gone to other places and haven’t had that light, I found that I can’t really function well on the computer.  If I’m cooking, I need it right over my cookbook. If I’m in the bathroom putting on make-up, I need it right there on the mirror.

Directional Lighting helps
Directional Lighting helps

My dad made sure to have the electrician install some track lights for me in the kitchen, which we placed over the sink area. I love them! Now the lighting in this kitchen [right] would be a dream. If only I could have all these  small lights! But I have something almost as good – lots and lots of natural lighting.

3. Natural Lighting

Before I moved back home from the Middle East, my dad was hard at work preparing my granny flat. I didn’t even need to tell him how much I struggled with lighting. He must have known that it was important for someone with low vision to have so he made sure to put in at least six windows in to provide ample natural lighting to help me see better.

The windows make my place bright and airy – very cheerful!

I asked the friend who’d just moved if his new place had much natural light. “That hurts my eyes,” he admitted. “It gives  me a terrible headache. I can’t stand it!”

4. Black-out Curtains

black-out curtains
black-out curtains

For him, black-out curtains were key. He spent several days shopping for black-out curtains to block out the light. He tried to describe what he wanted to several people, without success.

Curious myself,  asked, “Are they like the really heavy kind they used in London during World War II?” I asked. “You know, the kind they used so that fighter pilots didn’t bomb their houses.”


He said he used the black-out curtains to cut the glare from the window. Since that time, I’ve heard other vision impaired individuals mention the benefits of black-out curtains as well. Creating a comfortable environment for those with low vision means using different adaptations, including black-out curtains, if needed.

5. Rope Lights

One day, I received a new text.”Got my rope lights today and I had some help stringing them around the bottom edges of the walls.”

“Hey, they sound like Christmas lights. I guess you’ll be celebrating all year round!”

“They are pretty much like that,” he responded, “But these come with an insulation around the lights  so you don’t have to worry about fire. They act as reference points for me and give me some depth perception and are extremely helpful. They do also help liven up the atmosphere.”

I never thought about string lights. They would probably help me on the stairs and definitely in my laundry room, which I can’t see at all after dark because the kind of lighting I have is so high. At least I have several night lights around the house that serve me well but string lights is something to look into.

string lights provide depth perception
String lights provide reference points and help with depth perception.

These 5 types lighting have given me some great ideas to play around with. I also meet with a low vision specialist soon and maybe she can suggest some more ideas.

In the meantime, I think I’ll try to find a replacement for the burned out bulb.

burned out light bulb

You have just read, “Spotlight on Low Vision Lighting” bv Amy L. Bovaird. Copyright July 16, 2015. Please leave a comment and don’t forget to share it with your peeps!

The Spotlight on Lighting for Low Vision
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18 thoughts on “The Spotlight on Lighting for Low Vision

  • July 18, 2015 at 12:30 am

    I’ve noticed since I started wearing glasses that I need much better lighting AND magnification at times for close-up work. I like that first picture in your post – I could use that for cross-stitching, hand quilting, and other handwork. I also recognize that burnt out bulb – looks just like the one I use in my white light lamp.

  • July 18, 2015 at 12:57 am

    wow. I mean, I’d never thought there is so much that can be done to improve the conditions for vision-troubled people. Good info!!!
    All the best!

  • July 18, 2015 at 2:32 am

    Hi Amy,

    And let there be light! A very interesting piece. It’s so important how we visually impaired folks manage our lighting. And it’s amazing how many variables go into choosing the correct lighting for each of us. Sometimes it defies logic. Like your ingenious friend, who just moved into the new apartment for instance, he needs the brightness of fluorescent but abhors natural lighting. I know of some visually impaired people where the opposite is true. They love the natural lights but hate the fluorescent. This can be so confusing to our sighted friends. LOL Keep up the good work! And I hope you find your bulb soon. Oh, and don’t forget to order an extra one. LOL


  • July 18, 2015 at 3:17 am

    I was clueless about this. Wow, I am now educated. I am an artist and depend so much on my eyesight, I can see where this may even help someone who has had cataract surgery. Thanks for making us aware of this.

  • July 18, 2015 at 3:37 am

    You always make me laugh. When you put it like that, it’s easy to see how it is co confusing to our sighted friends!

  • July 18, 2015 at 8:48 am

    I never really thought about lights until a few months ago when my hubby started working with bright LED lights. This was interesting. And, I am sure, if it were up to me, there would never be a spare light bulb around here either. I would be just like you, expecting my favorite lamp to last forever.

  • July 18, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Hi Melanie,
    You’re welcome. 🙂
    I shoot to educate everyone.They have a lot out there now to assist. Just yesterday, my ophthalmologist sent me a copy of a magazine ad of an app. With the help of the app my iPhone camera can become a lighted magnifying glass and read menus and other small print text! Pretty cool, huh?
    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  • July 18, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    Hi Rhonda,
    Ha ha! So glad you can relate and found it interesting! I think my best best is to take the light bulb into a store like Lowe’s or Office Depot and match it up. Learning more about LED lighting nowadays. 🙂
    Take care! PS I think you are going to motivate me to keep up with my walking!

  • July 18, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Hi K Lee,
    The bulb looks like yours! Really? I’m trying to find it on the Internet but I don’t know if I have enough information to go on.
    I know. I thought the lighting to see the embroidery looked pretty cool too!
    Take care,

  • July 18, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    Hi Emilia,
    Thnks!! There is all kinds of help out there nowadays!
    There’s also a voice-activated device that reads out what kind of clothing you are wearing. For example, print, striped, blue, etc,
    Thanks for your comment and stop by again!!

  • July 18, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Such variations in needs for different kinds of lighting! We have Day/Night Shades in our RV. They work well.

    We bought a motion sensor light for the porch, but then found out it was for indoor use only. So I leaned it up against the wall on the landing above our steps. I think our vision-impaired dog loves it as much as we do! He can tell when we’re near as flicks on.

    I would love to know more about the app for the magnifying light to read menus.

    Thanks for sharing such a wealth of knowledge!

  • July 18, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    I never thought what you would need to see well in all these areas, Amy. You must miss that special light so much. It’s funny how we don’t make plans for when something goes wrong–almost as if we don’t want to consider such a thing. I hope you find what you’re looking for and everything falls into place again.

  • July 18, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    Thanks so much, Francene!
    There are a lot of variations for what everyone needs: glare is bad and bright is sometimes bad, sometimes good. Blue light is bad, another kind is good. It’s a bit complicated. But I’ll get it sorted out. I have a visit with a low vision specialist coming up soon. Yay! I think you’re right. I didn’t want to think about anything happening to that lamp. Denial again!

  • July 18, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    Fascinating article – especially the suggestion about blackout curtains. I have some problems with glare. My recent falls prevention class was held at AVRE, a local Binghamton, New York agency serving people with low or no vision. One of their specialists came to my class to talk about vision and falling risk. One topic they covered was glare and I tried a pair of yellow glasses they sell, which fit over regular glasses. Glare gone! It was amazing.

  • July 25, 2015 at 3:34 am

    Sorry for chiming in so late. Wonderful suggestions and great discussion. It helps re-evaluate what works and what doesn’t for all of us. I especially liked the rope or string light idea. Hope to try it on our stairs. Thanks, Amy for posting these.

  • July 25, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Hi Jena!
    Yes! The rope of lights works so well for my friend! I’m sure it will work for your stairs, too! You’re welcome. So glad to share!

  • July 25, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Hi Melissa,
    Sorry. I just saw your comment!
    Day / night shades? For your lamps or your windows?! Do they change according to the time of day?
    I love motion sensor lights! I have one out back and had one on the side of the house but had to take the bulb out because whenever it got windy, it would turn itself on and shine into the neighbor’s house!
    I’ll send you some info on the app for the magnifying light and menus.
    Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

  • July 25, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Glad you enjoyed it, Alana. Do you think you might buy some blackout curtains?
    Would like to hear about your experience if you do.
    I called about our local Falls Prevention course, which was offered by the VNA. They only have a program for the homebound. But they sent me some information that I might be able to incorporate into my talks. Thank you for sharing that info!
    I know exactly what you mean by yellow glasses. I have a pair as well, except they are a regular pair of glasses on their own and don’t fit over another pair. I use them frequently. 🙂
    Thanks for commenting, Alana. Always good to read what you have to say!

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