سه شنبه 6 اسفند 1392
''THE problem with lighting today is that lights are so specific,'' says Paul Marantz, a lighting consultant at Jules Fisher & Paul Marantz Inc. in Manhattan. ''The glowing light that Grandma's silk-shaded floor and table lamps provided made good reading light. But this kind of lamp is no longer in fashion.''
The solution to finding a good reading lamp is not necessarily to re-create Grandma's parlor. The key is to know what makes the eye comfortable and least fatigued when reading and then to place a light with the right shade and bulb at the appropriate height and angle.
''Eyes vary with age,'' says Dr. Alan Jay Friedman, clinical assistant professor of ophthalmology at New York University Medical Center. ''The older you get, the more light you need to read by.'' Dr. Eleanor Faye, the ophthalmological director of the Lighthouse for the Blind Low Vision Service, says: ''The eye's need for more light to read by increases 1 percent a year. When you're 10, you can read by 40 watts or hardly any light. By the time you're 60, you need around 100 watts.''
But the doctors warn that too much light or glare is just as bad as too little light. ''When light glares from highly reflective surfaces, it's fatiguing and especially disturbing for older people with cataracts and retina problems,'' Dr. Faye says. Shaded lamps cut the glare and focus and modulate the light.
''What you want is a well-lit room where the reading area is illuminated by a generous, focused pool of light, and the surrounding area by comfortable ambient lighting,'' says Jo Anne Lindsley, the lighting consultant at Synergy Consultants Inc. in Manhattan. ''What you don't want is high contrast between the area where you're reading and the far end of the room,'' says Carroll Cline of Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design in Manhattan. ''The eye always wanders away from the printed page and then comes back. As the eye drifts from a brightly lit area to a dark, shadowy one, it dilates in the darkness. In a high-contrast situation, the eye becomes fatigued.'' While there are many ways to light a room, experts believe that specific kinds of shaded lamps are best for reading.
Of all the shades available, lighting consultants agree that a translucent shade is the most comfortable for reading. It focuses light down for reading but also diffuses it upward and sideways to light the ceiling and adjacent walls. ''A shade should be as translucent as possible without the bulb itself being visible,'' Mr. Cline says.
''The traditional silk shade modulated light beautifully,'' says Mr. Marantz, ''because the transmission of light was moderate, neither too bright nor too low.'' But if silk shades are too expensive or inappropriate, there are translucent shades made of less expensive materials such as parchment, fiberglass or linen.
In glass shades, ''most made of clear, opal or sand-blasted glass transmit too much light,'' Mr. Marantz says, ''while amber or green glass shades lined in white milk glass provide only 'down' light. These colored shades can't light a room, but can work as reading lights, especially on desks.'' However, an opaque shade is less efficient than a translucent shade because it doesn't cast light sideways.
For a metal shade to cast a large pool of light on adjacent areas, Miss Lindsley suggests that it have a reflector or be painted matte white inside.
In choosing bulbs for a reading lamp, ''the old three-way, 50-100-150-watt soft-glow bulb is the most comfortable and useful,'' Mr. Cline says. ''Not only are people used to its warmth, but the different levels of brightness accommodate a change in ambience and a family's assorted needs.'' One reason Mr. Cline prefers the flexibility of the three-way bulb to a single 100-watt bulb controlled by a dimmer switch lies in its construction. A 50-100-150 bulb is designed with two filaments, one of 50 watts and one of 100 watts, which can be used singly or in combination, giving a more consistent bright light at all times. A single-filament bulb controlled by a dimmer switch darkens to a yellowish light as the wattage is diminished.
While there are small halogen incandescent bulbs available now, for reading they must be used in a lamp with a large shade and equipped with a dimmer or high-low switch. ''If you use a tiny light bulb in a tiny shade, it produces a small pool of light and a crisp shadow, neither of which are good for reading,'' Mr. Cline says.
There are also compact fluorescent bulbs, but these may not be bright enough for reading.
Whichever lamp you choose -desk, table, floor or wall-mounted -experts recommend that it be placed to the side and slightly behind you for maximum comfort. ''The light might be just above eye level in the general region of the face,'' Mr. Marantz says, ''and you should not be able to see the light source itself.'' For reading, the lamp can go on either side. But to avoid the shadow of your arm while writing and reading simultaneously, a right-handed person should place the lamp on the left. ''Probably an ideal lamp is a hybrid of the Luxo, which swivels 360 degrees and can be raised or lowered, and a traditional lamp with a translucent shade,'' Miss Lindsley says.
The lamps shown above were all chosen because they offered flexibility - the arms or shades can be moved - and they cast medium to large pools of light. Most will accept 100-watt or three-bulbs.
But the final arbiter of what makes a good reading lamp doesn't have to be an architect or lighting consultant.
''Your eyes,'' Dr. Friedman says, ''will tell you what they want. If the light isn't comfortable, they will show signs of fatigue, like burning, redness, brow ache, headache and squinting.''
photos of lamps (NYT/Gene Maggio)