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How to Minimize Glare and Eye Strain

How to Minimize Glare and Eye Strain

When light is too direct or reflected too strongly off a surface, it can produce a brighter, more dazzling light called glare. In the home, glare most frequently occurs in task lighting fixtures such as desk and table lamps, but it can occur in general lighting as well. Glare is a primary cause of eye strain, which can be uncomfortable for your eyes and result in headaches, nausea, and other unpleasant symptoms. This makes it important to reduce the amount you experience in your home. Let's review some effective strategies for eliminating glare as a cause for eye strain.

Control Your Light Source

Perhaps the most obvious way to get a handle on glare is by controlling your light source. If you can, angle your lights so that the light isn’t shining directly into your eyes or reflecting into them off a surface. This is easy to do if you have a desk or standing lamp with a swivel feature, but if your light source isn’t multi-directional, you could also try moving your fixture to another location. For example, if your light is reflecting glare when shining directly over your desk, try placing it a little further away or even over your shoulder.

Diffuse the Light

Satco S3955 - 60 Watt - A19 - Clear Silver Bowl
Satco S3955 - 60 Watt - A19 - Clear Silver Bowl

If controlling your light is not your best option, diffusing your light can be another effective way to reduce glare. Glare often occurs because a strong concentration of light is fixed on a single place. To adequately disperse (or reduce) this concentration of light, purchase a lens cover, lamp shade, or silver bowl light bulb—whichever is most appropriate for your fixture. Lens covers are optimal for fluorescent tubes or reflectors, and silver bowl bulbs are best used in table lamps or pendant lights because of their ability to redirect light up towards the ceiling.

However, if you have the means and motivation to buy a new bulb, purchase one with a warmer, more comfortable color temperature and/or a lower level of brightness. Changing these factors will help reduce glare by reducing the amount of bright light. Brightness is measured in lumens, so be sure to buy a bulb with the appropriate amount of lumens for your fixture and room. Check out our helpful blog post to see how many lumens you need to comfortably light your space. (Our post on reading lights is also a helpful resource for choosing lumens for task lighting.)

Change the Surface

As we’ve said before, glare can occur because light is reflecting into your eyes off a shiny surface. So, if changing your light isn’t an ideal solution, change the surface that’s reflecting the light instead. If you are working over a desk, counter or other work space with a shiny finish, cover the surface with a table cloth, newspaper, or some other non-reflective coating while you’re working on them. If you can, purchase surfaces in a matte finish to prevent the problem. If light is bouncing off the surface of your TV or computer screen, simply turn off or dim the lights.

Glare can be annoying, but luckily it is a relatively easy problem to alleviate. Controlling your light source, diffusing the light, or changing the reflective surface are simple ways to reduce glare. However, if you are wearing glasses, these tips may not solve your problem—you may just need new lenses. Ask your eye doctor about your anti-glare options. Sunglasses with polarized lenses are particularly helpful for eliminating glare while you’re driving, and they are available in prescription form, too.

Do you have any other questions about eliminating glare? Tell us about your situation, and we’ll respond with advice. Drop us a line below in the comments or on FacebookTwitterGoogle PlusLinkedIn, or Pinterest!

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