Lighting for the Aging Visual System

The light levels recommended for the circadian system should be sufficient for older adults to perform daily visual tasks. In spaces where high circadian stimulation cannot be used, ambient light levels for the aging visual system should be 200-300 lux on the horizontal surfaces (80-100 lux at the cornea) of a neutral light source (i.e., 3000-4100 K lamp). More localized light will be needed to perform tasks that require seeing fine details (e.g., reading prescription bottle labels, chopping vegetables). Architects and specifiers should still provide lighting that gives high, glare-free illumination on the task with no direct or reflected view of the light source, soft shadows throughout the space, balanced illuminance levels, and light sources that provide good color rendering.

Some other lighting principles for the aging visual system that can help architects, specifiers, builders, facility managers, and homeowners37 light interior spaces include:

Further Reading:

LRC Light & Older Adults website
Figueiro MG. 24-Hour Lighting Scheme for Older Adults. LD+A, 2013.
Figueiro MG. A Proposed 24 h Lighting Scheme for Older Adults. Lighting Research & Technology, 2008.
Figueiro MG. Lighting for Seniors at Hebrew Home, 2013.
Figueiro MG. Lighting the Way: A Key to Independence, 2001.


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