Presented by: Sydney Hallman, Hans-Peter (Hepi) Wachter

This study evaluates the impact of light color temperature and light source type on the perceived comfort level and reading ability (measured by reading speed) for women age 65-85 years old. Participants have no self-reported eye disease. Very little research has been performed in regard to light color temperature specific to the design of senior living facilities and the difference in perceived light quality between fluorescent and LED light sources to an older population. A study performed by Park and Farr (2007) determined that older adults in a retail setting perceive light to be warmer than younger adults and that better contrast is reported with cooler color temperatures. The Knez (2001) study evaluated high school students performing a variety of academic tasks under different light color temperatures of light and used surveys to evaluate mood and perceived lighting. Similar to the Knez study, the methodology used in this study aims to determine the preferred color temperatures for reading light to increase contrast and improve user comfortability while reading. However, this study focuses only on an aging population and does not compare the results to a younger population. The Illumination Engineering Society [IES] (2011), describes the many age-related eye degeneration issues that begin affecting individuals around the age of 40 and significantly impacts vision by the age of 65 in typical older adults. According to Davidson (1991), these issues include decreased capacity to focus, reduced contrast and color saturation, and a reduction in the pupil, which in turn limits the amount of light that reaches the retina. The available information regarding light level recommendations from IES and general lighting design industry standard recommendations for senior living facilities were incorporated in the study design. Light color temperature and the lumen output of the different light sources in this study are reported through the manufacturers’ photometric data and are organized by light source. Units of illumination, measured in fc (foot-candle) were recorded at the reading plane. The reading speed of participants under the various lighting conditions where measured with a digital timing instrument in minutes and seconds. Surveys completed after the reading speed measurements under different light source conditions captured the perception of reading comfort. The participant surveys were analyzed in age groups of 10 years and as a whole to create a pilot study as a model for a larger trial. The poster presentation will discuss details of the study methodology, assumptions, questionnaire responses and the analysis of the qualitative and quantitative data. The results of the study can assist providers of senior living facilities in making better lighting design choices in reading spaces.


  • Davidsen, J. (1991). Lighting for the aging eye. Interior Design, 62(3), 134-135. Noell-Wagonner, “Lighting in Nursing Homes-the Unmet Need,” IESNA, 2006.
  • Knez, I. (2001). Effects of color of light on nonvisual psychological processes. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 21, 201-208.
  • Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA). (2011). Recommended practice for lighting and the visual environment for senior living. Dilaura, D.L., Houser, K.W., Mistrick, R.G., & Steffy, G.R., (Ed.). New York, NY: The Society.
  • Park, N. and Farr, C. (2007), “Retail store lighting for elderly consumers: an experimental approach”, Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 316-337.
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