Aging eyes need fresh lighting design ideas

Andria Cowan Molyneaux regular contributor interior decorator and aging in place specialist helps us to understand how lighting design can help us to manage the decline in our eyesight as we age in our homes.

Everyone knows that as we age our bodies go through a metamorphosis in step with old man time. As likely candidates some of us may suffer from a decrease in physical strength mobility or ocular (eye) degeneration to name a few. But did you know that lighting design can help you to manage the potential decline in your eyesight as you age in your home?

As our bodies transform our eyes and vision also change. By spinning the wheel of life we may suffer from conditions such as reduced pupil size dry eyes loss of peripheral vision decreased colour vision and vitreous detachment. A cheery thought but how can lighting design help homeowners like you to overcome some of these conditions?

To answer this question let’s consider the following example. As we grow older the muscles that control the size of our pupils and its reaction to light lose some of its strength. This means that our pupils become smaller and less responsive to changes in ambient light. In response to this homeowners need to improve the levels of ambient light to ensure that they can read comfortably in their home.

As a professional interior decorator and aging in place specialist I enjoy helping my clients to improve the quality of their lives by incorporating lighting design into their homes. When carefully considered good lighting design is responsible for providing the homeowner regardless of age with comfort enjoyment and safety.

If you’re thinking about renovating your home make sure you incorporate the helpful tips below into your project so that you can enjoy living in your home now and into the future.

#1 Uniform Lighting

As we age our eyes take longer to adjust from light to dark. Make sure you plan a uniform lighting design throughout the home so that when you go from one room to next there are no extreme differences in light.

#2 Layered Lighting

Add in more layered lighting to illuminate the floor furniture surfaces walls and ceiling by using ambient and task lighting from floor lamps table lamps wall sconces and ceiling fixtures. By creating layered lighting throughout your home you reduce the potential for glare and strain on your eyes.

#3 Natural Light

Don’t forget your windows! Natural light is the best way to illuminate a space during the day. Consider skylights or larger windows to bring in more natural light and be mindful of your use of window treatments to prevent the glare from bright sunlight.

#4 Kitchen Lighting

Consider the use of “under” cabinet and “above” cabinet lighting along with directional task lighting for food preparation cooking and cleaning areas. This will help you to carry out those important tasks in the kitchen with fewer struggles.

#5 Staircase Lighting

Minimize the potential for tripping and falling down the stairs by adding pinhole LED lighting on the staircase risers wall or task lighting from the ceiling. Apart from the safety issue why not make a design statement of your staircase.

#6 Bathroom Lighting

The best way to prevent accidents in the bathroom is to ensure that it is well lit. Consider adding a combination of ambient and task lighting to this room by adding wall sconces to the mirror under cabinet lighting task lighting in the ceiling and water rated lighting in the shower. These types of lighting will help you to perform grooming tasks with greater ease and help you to read labels on medication bottles.

#7 Flickering & Humming Lights

Keep away from flickering fluorescent lights that use magnetic ballasts and if you really must look for fixtures that use high-frequency electronic ballasts. Avoid installing cheap ceiling pot light fixtures bulbs and dimmer switches as this will only result in a hum when the lights are dimmed.

#8 Lighting Control

It’s much safer to enter a lit room than a dark one. Make sure that lights can be turned on while entering the space. Rocker switches are the easiest for an aging person to use while motion sensors can remove all the stress from finding and turning on the lights. Remember the lighting control plan is just as important as the light fixtures that you use.

# 9 Paint Colours & Finishes

Finally consider using a light paint colour palette on the walls and ceilings as they will reflect more light within the room. Keep away from dark colours such as blues and greens as they absorb the light and should only be used on mouldings. Make sure you choose a matte or flat paint finish on the walls and ceilings to help prevent glare and bouncing light.

Andria Cowan Molyneaux is an accredited interior decorator designer and certified aging in place specialist (CAPS) and has been accredited by the Canadian Decorators’ Association (CDECA) and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Upholding a strict code of ethics Andria is uniquely familiar with the strategies and techniques for designing and building aesthetically pleasing barrier-free living environments. For more information please contact Andria by calling toll free 1-844-414-lake or by visiting or emailing


Canadian Association Of Optometrists

Colour Perception And The Aging Eye

How Your Vision Changes As You Age

Illuminating Engineering Society

Light Sensitivity (Photophobia)

Presbyopia (Canadian Association Of Optometrists)

Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute