Choosing the Right Reading Lamp

The key to finding a good reading lamp that will provide the right lighting you need is knowing what it is that makes your eyes comfortable and avoiding fatigue when reading. Here are some tips to choosing the right reading lamp for any part of your home.


Consider Age

Your eyes change as you age. The older you get, the more lighting you need when reading. The eye’s need for more light when reading increases by 1 percent every year. So for a ten year old, 40 watts is enough to read by. In contrast, someone who is sixty would need around 100 watts.


Avoid Glare

Although having sufficient lighting is necessary for reading, too much light or glare is equally bad as having poor lighting. Glare from highly reflective surfaces can be fatiguing, and is also disturbing for older people who have cataracts and retina problems. Shaded lamps are ideal, as they cut the glare and focus and moderate the light.


Lighting Consistency

A well-lit room with a reading area that is illuminated by a sufficient pool of light and is surrounded by relaxed ambient lighting is best. There should not be a high contrast between your reading space and the other end of the room. When you are reading, your eyes tend to away from the pages and then come back. When your eyes drift away from a brightly lit area towards a dark shadowy point, they dilate. So when there is a high contrast, your eyes will easily get fatigued.


The Right Shade

A lamp with a translucent shade is most comfortable for reading as it focuses light downward for reading while at the same time diffusing it upward and sideways, illuminating the ceiling and adjacent walls. Traditional silk shades modulate light beautifully, although there are also other shades that are made of less expensive materials.  Avoid choosing glass shades that are made of clear, opal, or sand-blasted glass as these transmit too much light.




When selecting light bulbs for a reading lamp, ‘the usual three-way, 50-100-150-watt soft-glow light bulb is the most comfortable for the eyes and also the most useful. Aside from its warmth, the different levels of brightness provide a change in ambience while at the same time accommodating the various needs of your family. The reason why a three-way bulb is better compare to a single 100-watt bulb that is controlled by a dimmer switch lies in its construction. A 50-100-150 light bulb has two filaments – one of 50 watts and the other of 100 watts – which can be used singly or in combination. This gives a more consistent bright lighting at all times. On the other hand, a single-filament bulb that is controlled by a dimmer switch dims to a yellowish light when the wattage is reduced.


Selecting Bulbs

Small halogen incandescent bulbs are great for lamps with a large shade and a dimmer or high-low switch. Don’t use halogens for lamps with a tiny shade, as this will result to a small pool of light and a crisp shadow which are not good for reading.


Positioning the Lamp

For maximum comfort, lighting experts recommend that reading lamps be positioned to the side and slightly behind you. The light should be just above eye level and the light source should not be visible when reading. The reading lamp can be placed on either side, but to avoid having shadows when writing while reading, it is best to place the lamp on the opposite side of the working hand.



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