Blindness or low vision affects approximately 1 in 28 Americans older than 40 years (Eye Disease Prevalence Research Group, 2004). It is important for these individuals to have the best lighting conditions wherever they are in order to maximize their vision.  Proper lighting is essential if you experience vision loss.  A good light source can make a dramatic effect on how you perform various activities of daily living such as reading, writing, and food preparation.  It can help you improve your independence and maintain your personal safety while at home.  When considering lighting, it is important to be able to manage or control the quality and quantity of light in your environment.  There are 5 different types of light with distinct characteristics.  Each one has advantages and disadvantages for individuals with vision loss.

1)      Sunlight:

  • The most natural source of light.
  • Can be used while performing any activity.
  • May create a glare problem or shadows.

2)      Incandescent:

  • Light bulbs used primarily for lamps and ceiling fixtures.
  • It is constant light that does not flicker.
  • Can be used for close work activities such as reading, knitting, sewing, etc.
  • May create a shadow or glare spot and uses more heat/ energy.

3)      Fluorescent:

  • Used primarily for ceiling fixtures.
  • Provides better lighting for a wider surface area.
  • Does not create a shadow effect and uses less energy.
  • Light can flicker and can not be dimmed as easily as a incandescent light.

4)      Combination:

  • Incandescent and fluorescent light.
  • Can be used for both illuminating a wide area of space and for close work tasks.
  • May require specialized lighting fixtures which can be expensive.

5)      Halogen:

  • More concentrated than the incandescent light bulbs and is usually used in lamps and recessed ceiling fixtures.
  • Gives good illumination and is more energy efficient than incandescent light bulbs.
  • It is not recommended for prolonged close work because the light is hotter.


Miller Calberto, MS, OTR/L, CAPS
Senior partner
Adapting Spaces, LLC

Leave a Reply