March 2010

Bruce Evans, Hannah Sawyerr, Zahra Jessa and Steve Brodrick, Institute of Optometry

Lighting schemes for older people with sight loss should be individually tailored, rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, according to a study funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust. Researchers investigating the influence of lighting on performance of daily activities in older people with sight loss revealed large variations in the levels deemed ‘optimal’ for specific tasks, prompting recommendations of individual assessment at the time of diagnosis.

Key facts:

  • Participants tended to perform daily tasks better under brighter lighting, but there were large individual variations across the board.
  • Optimal lighting levels vary idiosyncratically from one subject to another.
  • Participants did not necessarily prefer the lighting that was found to be the best for activity performance.

How can this research help?

Significant variations in results across the board led researchers to conclude that it is more valuable to test the effect of lighting for each individual person, rather than make any general assumptions based on a person’s visual status or disease condition alone. The report suggests using ‘test rooms’ where lighting can be varied to determine the optimal lighting levels for an individual in their home.

Links:

Research Findings: A Pilot Study of Lighting and Low Vision in Older People – PDF version and Word version