Looking out for eye health

– Vicky Sanderson is the editor of Around the House www.aroundthehouse.ca. Follow her on Instagram @athwithvicky, on Twitter @ATHwithVicky and on FB at www.facebook.com/ATHWithVicky

Canadians don’t pay enough attention to their vision. Consider that while 59 per cent may experience symptoms of eye disease, only 54 per cent of that number seek medical help, according to the Canadian Ophthalmological Society www.cos-sco.ca

That worries Dr. Mark Bona, an ophthalmologist specializing in vision rehabilitation. Working through the South East Ontario Vision Rehabilitation Service at the Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston, Dr. Bona’s focus is how well patients can function in day-to-day activities, and in the home.

As a health community, we do a really good job managing vision loss through medical and surgical strategies, but until recently we have not been doing the rehabilitation portion justice.”

A patient with macular degeneration may be treated with injections to reduce swelling in the eye, but that may not actually translate into what patient is actually experiencing, explains Dr. Bona. Visual rehabilitation addresses a patient’s personal needs and seeks to optimize independence — so that they can, for example, read and pay bills, or move about freely and safely in the home and in the community.

While there’s no evidence that certain types of light directly impact eye health or safety, having appropriate lighting in the home helps in many ways, says Dr. Bona, citing adequate stairway lighting as way to reduce the risk of falls.

Light is characterized by intensity (how much light is hitting the page or the task you are doing) and temperature — think of the scale that goes from warm yellow of a lit match to a cold blue florescence bulb. The direction of light, its distance from the task being performing, and how reflective the surface is will also factor in vision “comfort”.

There are also lots of individual variables, says Dr. Bona, including individual light sensitivity or dry eyes — issues that can require specific remedies, such as taking breaks from reading or using lubrication.

Philips www.philips.ca (whose name, by the way, was changed to Signify earlier this year) has been working on “comfort criteria” for LED lights that meet standards for such factors as flicker, glare, colour, and noise.

Their LED light bulbs throw off a warm white light with a high “color rendering index” — meaning colours look more true, and can be used in decorative fixtures, table lamps, and recessed lighting. Dimmable options are available.

The Philips Hue system works with an app, allowing homeowners to control, time and adjust light from room to room, using pre-programmed settings — reading, concentrating, relaxing, — or customizable colour and intensity settings.

Because electricity generated by oil, natural gas or coal contributes to greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, and because using less energy reduces stress on the grid, the kind of lighting you choose also affects both the health of the planet, and your bank balance.

Traditional incandescents, which release about 90 per cent of their energy as wasted heat, are being phased out in many countries. They are still permitted in some decorative lamps, three-way fixtures, chandeliers, utility bulbs, and appliances.

LED lighting has, however, fundamentally the latter: Jenn Air’s use of LED lighting with black interiors on luxury fridges is both more energy efficient, and design forward.

Natural Resources Canada Natural says halogen incandescent bulbs use at least 28 per cent less energy, and can last up to three times longer, than traditional incandescent bulbs.

CFLs have significantly improved since they emerged in the 1980s; they have better colour, less mercury content, reduced buzz and flickering, instant start up, and dimmability. They can produce the same light output and warm colours as incandescent light bulbs, while using up to 75 per cent less energy and lasting at least eight times longer. 

Consumers are more likely to choose bulbs based on price, rather than performance or quality, according to Philips’ research. That may be a mistake.

Lighting plays a huge role in comfort,” says Dr. Bona, “and the ability to function can be improved dramatically by having the right lighting.”

– Vicky Sanderson is the editor of Around the House www.aroundthehouse.ca. Follow her on Instagram @athwithvicky, on Twitter @ATHwithVicky and on FB at www.facebook.com/ATHWithVicky

Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies