Vision Tips with Dr. Murray, O.D.

Lighting & Color Screenshot

Let’s talk about a preventative tip that is very important, especially for the classroom and for studying. The topic is on lighting and the use of color. Most of us are under the impression that you need a lot of light for studying. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case. It all depends on the age of person. The older you are the more light you need. The younger you are the less light you need. The pupils are bigger and are more sensitive to light at a young age.

So, the old adage that you need a lot of light is not actually true. In fact, it’s best if you keep most kids under lower light rather than brighter light, especially the kids that have learning issues. There is a definite correlation between attention, dyslexia, light sensitivity, and contrast sensitivity. If they’re more sensitive to light, then they’re more sensitive to flicker and they’re more sensitive to white backgrounds.

White background is the worst background that anybody can read on. Our central vision is full of cones, and cones are for color. So, whenever possible try to use a colored background rather than white. Some people, again, are much more sensitive than others, especially the dyslexic and attention deficit populations are found to be much more sensitive.

In the demonstration here you’ll see the difference between reading on white, versus reading on color. Because our central vision is full of cones, our visual system is more comfortable with color. When the eyes are more comfortable it allows them to relax; when they relax everything gets bigger and farther apart. Bigger and farther apart is easier to read for everybody! So the bottom line is if you use color, versus white, you will see the difference in the comfort in almost everybody. Unless they’re 80 years old and have cataracts, then they may not see a difference. But virtually everybody does better with color.

What colors? Typically the best colors are in the blue and green area, but any of the natural colors are good: blue, green, gray, and brown. Anything that is natural will help the visual system to relax.

As often as you can: error on the side of dim with kids, turn the lighting down, and try to stay as natural with light as possible.

Natural light is by far the most comfortable for the visual system. Fluorescent lights are the worst, because they have flicker in them. Reduce the use of fluorescent lights and increase the use of natural light whenever you can.

Try to use indirect light instead of direct light. Direct light causes more reflections, irritation, and more stress on the eyes.

Let’s recap the tips we went over today:

  • Use less light with kids
  • Use indirect light
  • Use natural light
  • Avoid fluorescent light
  • Avoid white backgrounds
  • Use colored background (i.e. on the computer, colored paper, or possibly glasses with tint in them)

Contact us with any questions!  Good luck implementing these tips into your daily work or school routine!