Products for Enhancing Life with Vision Loss
Products for Enhancing Life with Vision Loss
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Need Better Lighting?

A Quick Guide to Selecting Proper Lighting

Strolling down the lighting aisle of a store to pick out lighting can be a daunting and confusingtask.  You are bombarded with labels like Daylight, LED, Cool, Warm, Halogen, Energy Efficient and we often end up getting overwhelmed, frustrated, and pick out the bulb that best suits our budget or is on sale and call it a day. When it comes to low vision, lighting is one of the most important things you can change or add to maximize your potential to see better and you want to get it right.  Magnified Life is here to demystify the light selection journey and guide you to make the right choices to help you and your loved ones see and function the best!


Ambient vs Task Lighting

Before we go any further, we need to understand the difference between ambient and task lighting. Just like the word implies, ambient lighting creates “ambiance” and sets the mood in your home. Another way to look at ambient is the base amount of light in an environment and is usually made up of all the lights from our ceiling fixtures, chandeliers, sconces, decorative table lamps as well as any natural lighting pouring in through your windows during the daytime. Ambient lighting should be bright enough to make out doorways, furniture, and rugs to get around safely in your home, but doesn’t necessarily help with seeing fine detail. Task lighting is the light you need when you want to see and make out detail doing “tasks” such as reading, managing your medications, trimming your nails, crocheting/knitting, or finding settings on your thermostat or appliances – things up close!  Task lighting is generally comprised of height adjustable lamps and flashlights, lights that you can bring closer to the “task” at hand and help you see as much detail as possible. Just remember, the closer the light, the brighter the light! If you are trying to pay your bills and write out check at your dining table the ambient lighting from your chandelier is giving you a basic amount of light but you cannot pull it down and make it brighter so instead consider a small gooseneck lamp that can be bent down closer. In the kitchen, many people want to get the best and brightest lights in the ceiling but under cabinet lights will shine light closer to the countertops where we usually are trying to see detail such as reading recipes, measuring ingredients, and chopping vegetables. Before you go upgrading the light in a room, ask yourself “do I need more ambient light or do I need a task light to help me see detail?”

Lumens vs Watts

Most everyone has an understanding that the higher the Watts a bulb has the brighter it is going to be. But pick up a light bulb package today and you will be shocked to see most of the new bulbs are only 8 or 10 Watts making you question how bright it would be.  Watts is a measure of how much energy or electricity needs to use in order to create light and with the recent push to save on energy costs and save our planet, bulbs have become energy efficient and now require less energy to light up than their predecessors. The term Lumens has now replaced Watts as the standard measure of brightness so higher the lumens the brighter the bulb! Here is a handy chart to convert Lumens to Watts to get a better feel for how bright a bulb will be.

150 Watts

2600 Lumens

100 Watts

1600 Lumens

75 Watts

1100 Lumens

60 Watts

800 Lumens

40 Watts

450 Lumens


Light Appearance = Color Temperature = Color

Not all lights are white or “neutral”, some lean more a toward yellow color that’s referred to as “soft” or “warm” while other bulbs appear more blue in color which goes by “cool” or “daylight.”  The color of a bulb is also referred to as the light appearance or color temperature and is used interchangeably. Everyone’s eyes respond differently to different colors and while there is no one-size-fits-all for lighting color the wrong color can be a deal breaker for many.  There are displays setup at Home Depot and Lowes to help demonstrate how these colors will make things appear so that is an excellent place to pick up bulbs - they also tend to have a wider selection to meet your needs. As a general rule of thumb the following colors can be broken down into the following categories.

  • Blue, Cool, Daylight (5000-6000 K)– Best for detail work but can cause more glare or light sensitivity in some
  • Neutral (4000-5000 K) – Flat white lighting, a good compromise, a multipurpose working light, great for artists and people trying to identify and see colors correctly
  • Yellow, Warm, Soft (2000-4000 K) – Great for relaxing, more comforting to the eye for some but may appear darker or provide less detail vision for others.


LED vs Halogen vs Incandescent vs Fluorescent

Bulbs are made in a variety of ways to produce light including heating up gasses trapped inside, passing electricity through a filament or coil to burn bright, or using light emitting diodes. They all produce light, many come in different colors and brightness levels and these days most of them are energy efficient and can help cut down on your electricity bill. So if they are all relatively the same, which one is better? For ambient lights your choice may not make a difference but for task lighting LED bulbs are recommended. Task lights are generally down low, closer to you, your eyes, and you might need physically touch and reposition it. You don’t want to touch a hot bulb or have a hot bulb near your face, especially if you have any issues with dry eyes so LED is always going to be your safest bet – it may get slightly warm but will not burn you or give off a tremendous amount heat like your other options.  If longevity and lifespan of a bulb is important to you, here’s breakdown of how long different types of bulbs may last you before they need replacing.

  • LED (15 - 25 yrs)
  • Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) (10 yrs)
  • Halogen Incandescent (1-2 yrs)
  • Standard Incandescent (1 yr)


Lighting Facts Label

Just like all your food items have Nutrition Facts labels on the back to help you understand what is in your food light bulb packaging now have a Lightings Facts label to help consumers understand what type of bulb they are getting.  Remember things have changed and you cannot judge bulbs based off the Watts any longer so pay the most attention the most to Brightness and Light Appearance (AKA the color)!



Magnified Life is here to serve as a resource for you and your loved ones with low vision, we hope to continue to educate you on available resources, tools, and different techniques to help magnify your potential!

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