Brighter does not mean safer or better.
According to Chautauqua Property Owners Association outdoor lighting committee chair Bill Neches, the ability to walk or drive safely around the Chautauqua Institution grounds at night is compromised by bright lights shining in one’s eyes.
The CPOA — using the research and recommendations of the Dark Sky Association — advocates lights which shine downward, “on the road or sidewalk, where you need light the most — not in your eyes, bedroom windows or up into the sky where it is dangerous, annoying or wasteful,” Neches said in an email.
Neches and the outdoor lighting committee will present an outdoor lighting seminar at 1 p.m. today at Smith Wilkes Hall and will continue its series of informational street lighting walkabouts at 9:30 p.m. Sunday, meeting in front of the Colonnade.
Disability glare — caused by excessively bright, unwanted light from outdoor lighting shining in one’s eyes at night — causes reduced visual performance and may reduce a driver’s or pedestrian’s ability to distinguish objects clearly.
Neches said that though older eyes need more light at night to see, they are also more sensitive to glare because of the time it takes to adjust to the light. Research on the effects of glare on the aging eye show a doubling of the adverse impacts of glare by age 70 and a tripling by age 83. Older people are particularly susceptible to disability glare and have trouble seeing when there are markedly differing areas of brightness. Even without glare, cataracts or other eye diseases may result in reduced vision and higher brightness sensitivity.
The CPOA demonstration light on the corner of Vincent and Pratt was chosen to be a low-glare design, Neches said. He compared it with the globe lights on Bestor Plaza, the post-top coach lights on Pratt in front of the Fowler-Kellogg Art Center and on the brick walk between the Amphitheater and the Hall of Philosophy.
More information on disability glare is available at the Dark Sky Association website, http://www.darksky.org.