Depth Perception in Aging Eyes

Education & Training

Have you ever heard of the "ginger-ale effect"?  Perhaps some of you have already experienced it.

This condition occurs because of a gradual yellowing of the lens of the eye.  It starts, on average, around the age of 65 but not everyone is affected in the same way.  Do not confuse the symptoms with cataracts.  As the yellowing descends over they eye, the cool colours that we see - shades of blue and green - start to appear somewhat "murky" and not clearly defined.  This is especially true when these colours are used in combination with each other.

A practical solution for this phenomenon is to use warm colours - reds, oranges and pinks - that are vibrant and clear.  Another way to compensate is to divide the cool colours (blues and greens) with a neutral or contrasting warm shade between them.  It is especially important to differentiate between the cool colours in any area that might possibly present a hazard for older people.  If the leg of a blue-green patterned chair sits upon a dark blue carpet, for example, someone with "aging eyes" might trip when passing because of the blurred definition between the chair and carpet.  The greater the contrast between an object and its background, the easier it is to see. 

Steps covered in a cool blue or green may also be dangerous, especially in combination with waning depth perception.  Contrasting stair treads or a warm-coloured runner would help to ensure safer footing.  As people grow older, they need increasingly sharper contrasts and sharper edges around an object to differentiate it from its background.

Very dark flooring of any kind should not be used for seniors as older eyes view this as a "bottomless pit" and that makes them feel very insecure when stepping into such a space.

Sufficient lighting is essential in viewing any colour.  To read comfortably, older people need high-contrast print material - typically sharp black lettering on a white or pale yellow page.

Poor lighting can cause visibility problems as early as age 50.  So it is not only senior citizens who are affected, but the aging boomers as well.

Posted by

Sandi Gerrard




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Ann Cummings
RE/MAX Shoreline - NH and Maine - Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth NH Real Estate Preferrable Agent

Hi Sandi - I'd never heard of this before, so thanks for sharing this info!  I have discovered that a little more light makes things a little easier on the eyes......  ;-)


Mar 09, 2007 06:31 AM #1
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Sandi Gerrard

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