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Our bodies undergo many physical changes as we age, from weight gain to a loss of hearing to diminishedÂ eyesight and while there are medical devices that help correct those weaknesses lighting designers are looking to improve the quality of life for older populations through technology and design. Recently, lighting manufacturer Holtkotter teamed up with the University of Colorado to conduct and fund a study examining the effects of lighting on the aging eye. The hope was to understand how the physical changes eyes undergo effect the impact of lighting on the ability to see clearly enough to comfortably read.
As we age, the diameter of the pupil grows smaller, the cornea grows more opaque and the retina lets in less light making it harder to see. Our ability to adapt to varied levels of light is further hampered by weakening ciliary muscles and a hardening of the lens. Fat deposits around the cornea increase the scattering of light while the lens yellows and absorbs more blue wave lengths making difficult to focus or distinguish images in a darkened setting.
The study discovered the reduced retinal illuminance of an older eye requires more than 100 foot-candles of light for an ideal reading experience. Armed with this knowledge Holtkotter designers set out to create a series of table and floor lamps that provide the needed number of foot-candles and right level of light for an older population. They tweaked the design of the reflector to find the right shape and the right material to focus light on the reading material while reducing the glare and sporadic lighting. Their new line implements a matte glass diffuser with an adjustable reflector to help focus the light on the reading material. Dimmers are also a prominent feature that can be adjusted as needed.
Funding the study was smart on Holtkotter's part. It breaks new ground for lighting fixtures to not only provide light but to provide the right amount of light for a targeted population. As Baby Boomers continue to age products that assist in their quality of life will be much more in demand. Kudos to Holtkotter for getting in front of the curve