January 2011

Is it possible to design forms of lighting for the benefit of large numbers of people with different forms of sight loss? That’s what researchers were investigating with ‘Matching lighting to sight loss’ a discussion paper addressing conflicting views when it comes to lighting the homes of people with sight loss.

Key facts: Matching lighting to eye conditions

  • Thomas Pocklington Trust funded two studies looking at the possibilities for matching lighting to eye conditions. One stated that individual assessment of lighting needs was necessary. whereas the other concluded that, whilst impossible to identify which lighting conditions were most suited for specific forms of sight loss, there were some rules of thumb that could usefully be employed when designing lighting for people with sight loss.
  • Most of the research has been concerned with measuring visual function. Researchers identified that most people with sight loss are more concerned with whether they can perform certain tasks.
  • Lighting equipment itself can serve as a signal to help balance and stability and can provide guidance. The value of these roles needs to be explored in further analysis of whether matching lighting to eye conditions would prove successful.
  • Different light sources emit different combinations of wavelengths and hence produce light of different colours, influencing the amount of light reaching the retina.
  • Glare from lighting is a well-known phenomenon but current systems of glare control do not reflect the sensitivities of people with sight loss.

How can this research help?

The paper recommends seven specific research topics for attention. These include:

  • Identifying significant everyday tasks.
  • Establishing the role of lighting in ensuring people with sight loss can move safely around their environment.
  • Finding the level of light exposure required for stable cicadian rhythms. These are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness.
  • Exploring all the consequences of light source colour for vision.
  • Examining indirect glare.
  • Determining the ease of use of different types of lighting controls.
  • Providing information on lighting for use by optometrists.


Research Discussion Paper: Matching Lighting to Sight Loss – PDF version and Word version