More than 100 people from a variety of fields attended “Light + Seniors – A Vision for the Future,” the Illuminating Engineering Society’s  (IES) first research symposium on March 6-7, 2012, in Washington, D.C.
Pam Horner, Senior Director of Government and Industry Relations at Osram Sylvania  and part of the symposium’s planning committee, said the response to the symposium exceeded everyone’s expectations.
“We had over 125 people, which is phenomenal for a research symposium,” Horner says. “There was so much interest in this topic. The interaction among the participants and the engagement of the speakers was extraordinary.”
The symposium covered three main topics – how lighting affects seniors’ vision, how lighting affects seniors’ health and body rhythms and how research on both topics can be integrated into practice. Horner says the speakers did a great job of addressing the gap of knowledge on these topics while keeping the information accessible to everyone.
“What was so interesting is that our attendees came from so many different groups – lighting manufacturers, designers, government officials, researchers, architects and engineers – and I was surprised at how much interaction there was between the groups,” Horner says. “It was clear they wanted to learn everything they could, and that they were hungry for knowledge outside their areas of expertise.”
As a result of this symposium, Horner says she hopes manufacturers will develop more senior-friendly lighting fixtures and controls and researchers will do more studies on how lighting affects health. She also hopes government agencies will incorporate what they learned into senior living facilities and designers will be inspired to create more universal design solutions. Horner also says the committee hopes to use the symposium’s information for a short brochure about lighting for seniors.
The IES is already talking about planning additional symposia, Horner says, but the topics are still being decided. This symposium was co-sponsored by the American Lighting Assn.  (ALA), the National Electrical Manufacturers Assn.  (NEMA), the Intl. Assn. of Lighting Designers  (IALD), the National Institute of Building Sciences , the Nuckolls Fund for Lighting Education  and Underwriters Laboratories .
For more information on lighting design for aging eyes, see this article  from Residential Lighting October 2011.