You need a task lamp if you have low vision. Here’s why.
Though it may seem like a small detail, a task lamp can make all the difference in the world. Did you know that only 12.5% of the light from an average ceiling light reaches your desk’s working area? That is why task lighting is crucial to preventing eye strain.
The human eye is one the most incredible designs known to man. In order for the eye to function, light is required to reflect off of objects and enter the eye.
AdaptiVision primarily provides adaptive technology to help people with low vision. However, we often start out by addressing lighting for those who are struggling with significant visual impairments.
Stu Flom, our founder and president, strongly believes that proper lighting is a critical component when it comes to healthy functional vision.
Prior to his involvement with low vision, Stu worked for a fiber optic lighting company. He produced lighting solutions for many interesting applications which included microscopy, photography and dental applications. One of his favorite projects was to provide a new lighting design for the Hope Diamond Display at the Smithsonian Institute.
“Although the Hope Diamond is a magnificent gem to see, it is spectacular visually only because of the light reflecting from this astonishing jewel. Without adequate lighting, the Hope Diamond is reduced to a big stone!”
— Stu Flom, Founder & President, AdaptiVision
From machine vision to human vision
Stu was also involved in developing lighting for robotic quality control. One of his roles was to present technical papers to automotive engineers. The focus was how to evenly light shiny metal parts for robotic inspection in automotive manufacturing.
For a camera on the end of a robotic arm to effectively see defects on a shiny part, it is essential that the lighting is controlled. The issue of glare is also important to address. In addition to positioning lighting at the proper angles, the team used diffusers and polarizers to deal with glare.
Over twenty years ago, Stu left that job to pursue adaptive technology solutions for people with low vision. Stu jokes, “I enjoy people much more than robots!” On a more serious note, he realized that the lighting industry had done a more scientific and effective job providing lighting for robots than it had for people who struggle with their vision. Although there have been some improvements in recent years, there is still not adequate attention paid to lighting solutions for the low vision population.
Quality lighting matters
As we get older, we need significantly more light in order to see. The problem is compounded even more in the life of a person with a visual impairment such as macular degeneration.
Quality task lighting is the most important yet often neglected area in the life of a person with low vision. It’s not necessarily the quantity of light that enables a person to see better but the quality of light.
What is needed is uniform lighting that produces little glare. Here is an illustration. A person with macular degeneration who goes outside on a bright sunny day will typically struggle to see because of the glare produced by extremely intense and harsh lighting. Going outside on a bright overcast day typically provides good lighting for a person with AMD, because the clouds act as diffusers, producing much more even, softer lighting.
1) Consider the benefits of simulated daylight versus artificial light used in task lamps.
- Traditional artificial light: The most commonly used bulbs are filament light bulbs (balloon-shaped with wires inside). The brightness of these bulbs depends on the number of watts they have; the higher the number of watts, the brighter the bulb will be. This type of widely used light has a yellow tinge which can distort contrast and colors and produce unwanted glare. This light source is not recommended for partially sighted people.
- Simulated daylight light: This recreated, clean, crisp light provides relaxing and healthy lighting conditions for your eyes, similar to being outside on an overcast day. It increases contrast and clarity and reduces glare. This type of light delivers all the high-quality lighting options needed by partially sighted people
2) Choose an LED task lamp for simulated daylight.
Through our research, we have found that LEDs are the best type of bulb for low vision for a variety of reasons. LEDs are easily adjustable, they do not generate heat, and they are environmentally friendly and more economical. With a flexible lamp that is designed to diffuse light evenly, LEDs are the best lighting solution for low vision.
Here is a summary of the benefits of LEDs:
- More economical. Because they last longer, are more durable, and do not require bulb replacements, LEDs save significant costs over time.
- Built to last. LEDs outlast other bulb types by thousands of hours.
- More energy efficient. Replacing a single 60 watt light bulb with a LED results in a reduction of approximately 353 lbs of CO2 emissions per year.
- Brighter. LEDs are much brighter and shine with more intensity than other bulbs.
- Lower temperature. LEDs do not use heat to generate light. They run cool, instead.
- Directional. LEDs emit light in one direction rather than all around, making them ideal for task lighting.
- More durable. With no filaments or other fragile parts, LEDs can withstand more impact and perform equally well in all climates.
3) Evaluate task lamp positioning.
By using an adjustable lamp and positioning the lamp to the side you can minimize glare. In some cases, it can even be helpful to have two adjustable lamps on either side of the task to increase light intensity and minimize shadows.
Low vision task lamps from AdaptiVision
We have a passion to see quality low vision lighting made a much greater priority in the lives of people with vision impairments. Quality low vision lighting is often the most important issue for a person struggling with low vision, but unfortunately it does not receive the attention it deserves! We are here to change that.
High quality low vision lighting that can be easily positioned, and that emits even, diffuse light over a large field is essential for a person with low vision. For that reason, AdaptiVision is thrilled to offer solutions from Stella Lighting, which provides the illumination control necessary for people who are visually impaired.
Stella lamps are significantly better than other lamps on the market because they offer illumination control, uniform light output, and adjustable intensity across three different color spectrums. These lights can be positioned wherever light is required.
The light output is extremely uniform, the light intensity can be adjusted, and there is a choice of three different color spectrums. The controls are great for a low vision person because they are tactile touch controls.
The Stella TWO LED Task Lamp offers extremely even lighting with minimal glare. The user controls and customizes the experience including the light intensity, direction and color spectrum as well as the lamp positioning, with a flex arm that rotates in every direction. We believe this product is the ideal solution for individuals with low vision and all those needing task lighting for reading, crafting, knitting, creating, and more.
Stella also offers a floor lamp. Just like the task lamp version, the floor lamp can be rotated and adjusted to position light where it is most needed.
With Stella, the possibilities are endless. Here are a few ways people are using their Stella lamps for daily tasks:
Interested in learning more about home lighting? Here is an in-depth look at assessing lighting for low vision from the American Journal of Occupational Therapy. And for everyday advice on choosing the best lighting for each room in your home, check out this lighting guide from Porch.com.
Last updated April 20, 2022.
By Bethany Wyshak. Reviewed by Stuart Flom.