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Lighting, Low Vision and Falls

Changes to lighting can help prevent falls.  In a research study, adults over the age of 40 had poorer balance in low light situations than in normal lighting.

Types of lighting:

  • Incandescent bulbs: less expensive, “warm” light but they do not cast as much light per watt.
  • LED bulbs: more expensive but they last much longer (10,000 hours vs 1500 hours for standard bulbs.) Thus, they need to be changed less frequently so you don’t have to stand on a chair or stepstool to change the light. Also they are more energy efficient.

Proper lighting in the home:

  • Natural lighting is good but don’t have a direct view of the sun. This may cause glare which causes decreased visibility (difficulty seeing the edges of objects, shadows, or things on the floor)
  • Often you can reduce the wattage in your overhead light if you have lamps that can be used for specific tasks (i.e. a lamp by the chair where you read the newspaper.) This can be more energy efficient.
  • If you have dark furniture, use a lighter throw on the furniture.
  • Avoid dark drapery fabrics because they block natural light.
  • Choose window coverings that allow light but filter the light to help to decrease glare.
  • Replace darker light shades with lighter shades to allow more light to be dispersed into the room. Also periodically dust the light bulbs in your lamps.
  • Leave a nightlight or low level lighting on in your bathroom at all times. Constant low level lighting at night helps you to avoid the night blindness that occurs after turning on and off bright lights when you get up to go to the bathroom at night.
  • Keep a flashlight available in case the power goes off. You can also purchase rechargeable flashlights that stay plugged into the wall and will come on automatically in case of power failure.