I talk about the value of good lighting in our homes a lot, mostly from an aesthetic point of view, but today’s guest post shares some insight into the the debate over protecting our eyes. Enjoy!
Most people have heard the warning that dim light can harm our eyes and that we should turn on an overhead light when reading. But a study published in the British Medical Journal in 2007 debunked this myth by stating that reading in low light does not damage eyes, although it may cause some eye strain. Many people use desk lamps to read or to give them extra light when they are working at the computer. A more direct light seems a much better option for reading. But while the desk lamp itself is not harmful to the eyes, there are ways to use desk lamps effectively to cut down on stressed eyes.
So while dim lighting does not cause bad eyesight, it can make eyes tired which makes reading difficult, particularly as we age. A desk lamp is best utilised when it has an opaque shade and the light is pointed directly at the material being read. If it is placed over the shoulder, the light can create a glare on the material and cause eyestrain.
These days, most work is done on computers. Staring at a monitor all day can make eyes red and fatigued. In fact, there is an actual name for eye problems caused by computers: computer vision syndrome. These types of eye problems are very common as computer use becomes more prevalent. Staring at a computer screen causes the eyes to continually focus and move back and forth. As images on the screen move, the eyes must adjust. Similarly, overhead lighting can create a glare, especially when looking at a computer. This in turn can cause eyes to become tired. A more direct lighting source, such as a desk lamp, can help cut down on glare. It is important that the light be placed properly so that it is not shining directly into the eyes.
After staring at a computer all day, many people go home and turn on the television or watch movies on their laptop. When looking at a television or computer in a darkened room, our eyes dilate and let in more light. This can cause discomfort. The addition of a desk lamp will cut down on the eye strain caused when the pupils are dilated for too long. The lamp should be placed behind the laptop to cut down on glare and create a diffusion of light and keep the light from going directly into the reader’s eyes and causing strain.
The type of light we’re exposed to is also a factor in the health of our eyes. Studies have shown that if we are exposed to overhead fluorescent lighting for too long, it can actually damage our eyes by increasing the risk of cataracts and other eye diseases. “Cool” fluorescent lights emit UV light that is as strong, or sometimes stronger, than sunlight. This kind of glare can cause irreparable damage to the eyes.
It seems then, that the argument for softer, more diffused light is a strong one. A smaller lamp, such as a desk lamp cuts down on glare which is one of the main factors causing tired eyes. It also adds light to a too dark room, giving tired eye muscles a break from having to work too hard. Abbey Gate Lighting offers a variety of lamps and bulbs to brighten a room. The right combination of bulb and lamp in an office can save eyes from long hours of reading and working at the computer.
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