A Light Bulb Moment – Switching On For Better Sight

Have you ever tried to buy a replacement light bulb without bringing the old one along in your pocket? The choice is quite baffling and the possibilities endlessly confusing – you almost need a degree in physics to make head or tail of it.

Forget all those inappropriate jokes about how many blondes are needed to change a light bulb – it really doesn’t matter what colour your hair (or what sex you are)-  selecting the light  bulb in the first place is a veritable minefield of confusion – halogen, low energy, dimmer, fluorescent, incandescent and spot with or without filaments… and what about its finish? Should it be pearl, clear or warm white? And that’s before considering the wattage – there’s every number from 2 to 200 of those.

In the dim and distant past I worked in the press office for Philips, the king of light bulb manufacturers, in Eindhoven the city of light. Back in those days we only had to worry about bayonet or screw fixtures, the odd wattage issue and if we preferred a shiny or mat finish.

Baring all this in mind and considering how much we rely on switching on artificial light in these dark days of winter, it comes as no surprise that there are indeed many different types of light and some are considerably more vision friendly than others.

Even if you are happy with your eyesight, have you ever wondered, for instance, why you might struggle to read the ingredients on a product in the supermarket?

Despite the shop being well lit it might not be easy to determine whether that stock cube contains MSG (my least favourite additive); meanwhile back in your bright, sunny kitchen it is easy to see and read the small print on the packet.

London Vision Clinic optometrist, Vimal Piparia, pointed this out to me at my recent check up. (I am still massaging my eyelids night and morning in an attempt to get my lazy Meibomian glands functioning properly). Without going in to too much detail about light waves and how they work, the message is clear: you can’t beat good, natural light for reading.

Opticians all over northern Europe will confirm a surge in business as the days draw in and people start to notice that they are not seeing clearly. Those of us who have lived previously in sunnier climes are at the front of the queue.

Vimal, who moved from Melbourne to London to take up his position with the London Vision Clinic 15 months ago, told me that it is a known phenomena.

“It’s when the days become shorter and darker that most people begin to realise that their vision is not as good as it used to be. You should also be aware that many large stores and some offices still rely on flurouscent lighting and this is not the best light for reading or computer work.

“When natural sunlight isn’t available, try and use a dedicated reading light instead”, he recommends.