By Dr. S.S. Gill
In our continuing series on Eye Health, Consultant Ophthalmologist Dr. S. S. Gill talks to us about how lighting may affect the health of our eyes.
Does reading in dim light do any harm to our eyes?
Reading in dim light does not change the function of our eyes in any permanent way but it does stress the eyes out! The best lighting conditions for reading are ambient, rather than direct, and there should be no glare in a reading area.
Reading in dim light can cause eye strain which could make the reader uncomfortable, and therefore it is a good idea to set up a well lit reading space to make reading more enjoyable. The eye often finds it hard to focus in dimly lit conditions, which can be a cause of eye strain. People also tend to blink less while reading in dim light because they need to pay more attention to discern the details on the page, which can result in a dryness of the eye which feels unpleasant.
How do you feel after working in your office all day? Are you fatigued or tense? Are your eyes tired? Or do you feel relaxed and peaceful? Your physical comfort has a lot to do with the lighting in your office and your work station. Getting proper advice and understanding the principles of proper home and office lighting has an impact on the way people work in it. “Simply said, if you don’t feel good in a space because of its lighting, you won’t work as productively.”
Does the kind of lighting make a difference?
Warm white light gives off yellowish light that helps enrich the warm colours around us. They have a calming effect and help to relax an individual. You will find areas like bedrooms, lounges and hallways are better off with warm white light.
The cooler white light on the other hand is crisper under higher colour temperatures and appears more ‘normal’ in high lighting level situations. As a matter of fact, ‘cool white’ light gives off a bluer light that improves our ability to see contrasts making it good for work areas such as kitchens, laundries, workshops and offices.
However, although cool white light enables better contrast in vision, the output in the predominantly blue portion of the light spectrum does exacerbate glare. This is because light in the blue part of the spectrum and UV light have peaks which are very close together (approx 3500K), and this works the eye (photoreceptors) at a much higher rate than that of the warm white (2700K) light. This means that your eyes may not be as relaxed in this environment if you are working long hours under this lighting.
In a natural sense, most people do tend to prefer ‘warm white’ light. In fact, we have been conditioned to find warm appearing lamps ‘normal’ at low lighting levels, since it mimics the colour of fire which we have used as a light source for thousands of years.
So, if you find that you are always having tired eyes, you may want to try changing your room or work space lighting to warm white and it should help make it less stressful for the eyes.
Based on scientific research, it is now known that excessive blue light damages the retina (back of the eye) contributing to diseases like age related macular degeneration. Yes, our eyes need light to work, but too much of the wrong kind of light and UV, and too little light can damage the eyes.