Politecnico di Torino (logo)

Through their eyes : have you ever wondered how older people see things?

Francesca Borra, Laura Cane

Through their eyes : have you ever wondered how older people see things?

Rel. Anna Pellegrino, Barbara Matusiak. Politecnico di Torino, Corso di laurea magistrale in Architettura Costruzione Città, 2015



When, a year and a half ago, we completed the class in : “ Physical and Technical Building Planning: Lighting Design” at the Politecnico of Turin, we would never expect to succeed in fulfilling an experience as exciting and rich with emotions as the one recently completed.

Above all, what caught our attention was the lecturer’s will in deepening the theme of daylight and its strong connection with the human being: the first step towards the decision for our master’s thesis topic. The second step came in talking with the Ophthalmologist Monica Dogliani, who made us aware about the existence of recent interdisciplinary cooperation between ophthalmologists, opticians and architects to find out methods able to support the development of a new design, [mainly from a Lighting Design point of view ) aimed at improving the accessibility in both private and public environments for visually impaired people. Soon after this conversation we got informed and, last October in Milan, we took part in the Eyecare Workshop and in the National Congress of Low Vision where there were also, in addition to doctors working in that specific field, Francesco lannone and Serena Tellini, Architects from their Consuline Study. Thanks to their enormous enthusiasm showed about that topic during the Convention, the development of our thesis concept came almost naturally.

The topic reached a turning point when we decided to focus our attention more specifically on the elderly visually impaired people and not on visually impaired people in general; the choice was partly driven by the current European situation: given the increasing size of the older adult population (over 60) in many countries, there is a pressing need to identify the nature of age-related vision impairments, their underlying mechanisms and how they impact on older adults performance of everyday visual tasks. The design that takes care for those people with special needs is called Accessible Design or “Accessibility”.

Thanks to our lecturer, we had also the chance to develop our topic at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim (Norway) between March and August 2015. To deal with a deeply different reality than the Italian one and having access to previous studies In this specific field combined with a wide bibliography, increased our personal interest and enthusiasm even more.

This search ranges from theoretical fundamentals to applications. There have been a large number of interesting developments in our understanding of how lighting and people interact.

We started from an analysis of this new social class and of the visual degenerative diseases that may be affected; it was crucial to know more about the needs of elderly visually impaired people and in which ways solutions could be reached In a different social and spatial milieu and at the same time the European Legislation with its standards and different Guidelines on these issues were taken into account.The Theory of Color was subsequently analyzed, some visual functions such as the color discrimination, daylighting devices, different artificial light sources to then conclude with our experimental part. In application, it had been possible to develop full-scale prototypes of the residential environment and to test the different daylighting and artificial light devices designed in our experiments. The readers who expect to find exceptional design projects in this search, or ready-made technical solutions to be easily applied, will surely be disappointed; the results reached match that precise lighting and climate condition in that specific year’s period. Unfortunately it was not possible to investigate, from an experimental point of view, even the LED technology, not being available in the laboratory.

The central purpose of this study is to contribute to our knowledge of this Accessible Design in a way that can be supported by the knowledge of the situation and by the experience and expectations of those who are affected by visual impairments. To fully achieve this aim and to help them to better perform their home daily tasks it is necessary to understand their particular needs and problems arising from the reduction or absence of vision.

Relators: Anna Pellegrino, Barbara Matusiak
Publication type: Printed
Subjects: S Scienze e Scienze Applicate > SH Fisica tecnica
S Scienze e Scienze Applicate > SJ Illuminotecnica
Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea magistrale in Architettura Costruzione Città
Classe di laurea: UNSPECIFIED
Aziende collaboratrici: UNSPECIFIED
URI: http://webthesis.biblio.polito.it/id/eprint/4369



S ECTION I The Aging Eye

"The design of every environment, private and public, is affected by the aging population."

[Giovanna Borasi e Mirko Zardini, Imperfect Health, CCA Montreal, 2012]

Chapter 1

1.0 New Generation: Young old

Current Living situation of the elderly in Europe Vision and Age

Vision Loss - Defects and anomalies of vision

1.1 New Design Needed

European Contribution and Projects A New Design in different Climates

Chapter 2

2.0 European legislation: Lighting Standards

2.1 UK Lighting Guideline for residential building

2. 2 Accessible Design Guideline for elderly and visually impaired people

SECTION 2 Understanding Light and its interaction with Humans

"Notjustsee.you have tosee well” [Lucia R.Ronchi, Visione e illuminazione alle soglie del 2000, Voli,2000]

Chapter 3

3.0 Lighting Design Role

3.1 The Function of Illumination

Chapter 4

4.0 Light, Colour and Perception

The human eye Physics and Theory of colour Lamps and Colour Vision and Colour Perceptions

Chapter 5

5.0 Daylighting Design

Natural light source and its features. Points to remember about daylight The Basic Components

Integrating of Daylighting and Electric Lighting

Chapter 6

6.0 Artificial Lighting


Styles of Luminaires Switchingand dimming 

Full-Scale Study in a Room Laboratory

"If l can't see it’s not just my eye fault" [Lucia Baracco et ai, Questione di Leggibilità, Progetto lettura Agevolata, Venezia, 2005]

Chapter 7

7.0 Introduction

7.1 Participants

7.2 Method and procedures

7.2.1. Subjects selection

7.2.2. Description of the experimental rooms in the Room Laboratory.

7.2.3. Experiments description

7.2.4. Measurements

7.3 Results

7.3.1. Experiment 1: Pick out books from a library. Illuminance and luminance values Speed Score and Accuracy Score

73.1.3 Questionnaire Conclusion new recommendation for visually impaired people

7.3.2. Experiment 2: Reading Test Illuminance and luminance values

73.2.2 Speed Score and Accuracy Score Questionnaire Conclusion new recommendation for visually impaired people

7.3.3. Experiment 3: Object Recognition Illuminance and luminance values Speed Score and Accuracy Score Questionnaire Conclusion new recommendation for visually impaired people 

7.3.4 Experiment 3: Watching TV. Illuminance and luminance values Speed Score and Accuracy Score Questionnaire Conclusion new recommendation for visually impaired people






Borasi C. and Zardini M., Imperfect health, CCA, Montreal, 2012

Smith, Lighting for Health and Safety, Routledge, 2000

Winchip S. N\.,Fundamental of lighting, Fairchild Books, 2011

Boyce P. R., Human factors in lighting, CRC Press, 2014

Winchip S. M., Designing a Quality Lighting Environment, Fairchild Books, 2004

Lam W. M.C., Perception and Lighting as Formgivers for Architecture, McGraw-Hill Inc.,1977

Randall Whitehead, Residential Lighting. A Practical Guide, John Wiley & Sons Inc, 2004

Karlen M. Benya J., Lighting Design Basics, John Wiley & Sons Inc, 2004

Lucia R.Ronchi, Visione e llluminazione alle soglie del 2000, Vol.1,2000

Giovanna Borasi e Mirko Zardini, Imperfect Health, CCA Montreal, 2012

B. H. Evans, Daylight in architecture, McGraw-Hill Inc., US, First Edition, August 1981

K. Sagawa, Vision of the elderly and visually impaired-for Accessible Design in Light and Lighting, 26th Session of the CIE Beijing, 2007;

G.K. Cook, Innovation in light reflectance value - measurement and application, 26th Session of the CIE Beijing, 2007;

A.Tenner, Activity light for the elderly, 26th Session of the CIE Beijing, 2007;

Y. Zhang, Experiments and researches of reading lighting for the elderly, 26th Session of the CIE Beijing, 2007;

I.Youko, Emergency lighting with considering adaptation of eyes, 26th Session of the CIE Beijing, 2007;

C. Chain, Public Lighting specification for visually impaired people: results from an experiment, 26th Session of the CIE Beijing, 2007;

A. Vidovszky-Nemeth et al, Brightness, Visual comfort and Task Performance, 27th Session ofthe CIE Sun-City, 2008

L. Geerdinck et al., Comfortable lighting for seniors: the effect of illuminance and colour temperature on the visual acuity in later life; Session of Lux Europe, Istanbul, 2009;

M. Wei and K.W. Houser, Colour discrimination of seniors with and without cataract surgery under illumination from two fluorescent lamp types, Session of the Cl E, 2012;

J. Wienold, Quantification of age effects on contrast and glare perception under daylight conditions, Session of CIE,2012;

A. Logadòttir, Comparison of user satisfaction with four different lighting concepts, Session of CIE, 2013;

A. Lewis- J.Torrington, Extra-care housing for people with sight loss: Lighting and design, Lighting Res.Technol. 2013,45:345-361;

CM Lasagno et al, Transitional spaces from exterior to interior as functional vision barriers in ageing, Lighting Res.Technol. 2014,46:706-715;

A. Lewis, Daylighting in older people’s housing: Barriers to compliance with current UK guidance, Lighting Res. Technol. 2015,47:976-992;

Hans-Werner Wahl, 1 Frank Oswald,2 and Daniel Zimprich, Everyday Competence in Visually impaired Older Adults: A Case for Person-Environment Perspectives, The Cerontologist, Vol. 39, No. 2,140-149,1999;

Lucia Baracco et al, Questione di Leggibilità, Progetto lettura Agevolata, Venezia, 2005.

A. Lewis, Evaluation of Older People’s Living Environments (EVOLVE), University of Manchester, Housing LIN Extra Care Housing Conference, 2011 Rosemary Bakker, Household Tips for People with Low Vision, Cornell University, 2011

Dahl Torben, The architectural potential of climate in: Climate and Architecture, Routledge, November 2009.

Thomas Pocklington Trus, GOOD HOUSING DES/GN_L/GHT/NG, Good Practice Guide 5,2010.

P.Boyce in:Thomas Pocklington Trus, GOOD HOUSING DESIGN_LIGHTING, Good Practice Guide 5,2010.

EN 12464-1:2011 "The Lighting of Workplaces"

UK LIGHTING GUIDE 9:2013 "Lighting for communal residential buildings"

ISO/IEC Guide 71 “Guidelines for standards developers to address the needs of older persons and persons with disabilities"

Modify record (reserved for operators) Modify record (reserved for operators)