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IES Research Symposium I

Light + Seniors – A Vision for the Future

March 6-7, 2012
Washington, D.C.

The purpose of this symposium was to foster discussion and report on ways that lighting can be used to maintain vision, mental and physical health, and quality of life for those with aging eyes.

The symposium presentations were organized into two one-day sessions, the first day being devoted to research findings about people with older eyes and vision problems, as well as research about the connections between light and health. The second day focused on how research might be applied to future lighting recommendations, designs, and products. In addition to attending the research presentations, symposium participants had many opportunities interact with the speakers and to view and discuss research poster papers on a variety of topics related to lighting and the aging eye.

In the closing session of the symposium, participants discussed the following key learning impacts:
  • We know a vast amount about light and vision in interior spaces
  • For exterior conditions, there is still much to learn
  • Universal design is a concept that appeals to many
  • There are two distinct groups of seniors-- those with healthy vision that may be worse than they had in their youth but are still functioning well and those who are partially sighted or blind.
  • We do not know enough about the tasks that the two groups of seniors actually want to be able to do.
  • There are important differences to consider between new homes/facilities and existing buildings.
  • Lighting is not the only thing that matters--décor is also important.
  • Regulation is not likely to be the most effective path for lighting in senior facilities because there are no agreed-upon metrics to define the necessary light distribution and positioning of the luminaires for best results.
  • Regarding the non-visual effects of light exposure, it was agreed that exposure to light can have beneficial effects on the treatment of specific diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Can light exposure be established as a public health issue?


Download the recap of this symposium.

Download the handouts and posters presented at the symposium.

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