Best Reading Lamp for Seniors and the Elderly — A Complete Guide

By: Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

The right lighting can greatly enhance your reading experience while also keeping you focused. If you’re looking for a nice reading lamp, for you or your loved one, you’re in the right place. Don’t stop reading because of your eyesight! Here’s the best collection of safe reading lamps for older adults.

Income Disclosure: I recommend products based on my personal experience working with seniors. I may earn a commission on items purchased from links in this guide. Learn More.

As people get older, they face a slew of health problems. In particular, they may develop certain eye difficulties. This is because of eye-related illnesses, or other illnesses that affect overall eye performance. Such illnesses include age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, presbyopia, and glaucoma.

According to the CDC, cataract, and glaucoma are the most common eye illnesses among adults aged 40 and up. These disorders and diseases all have a significant impact on an elderly person’s eyesight.

So, they are unable to perform regular day-to-day functions like reading.

But all hope is not lost!

Keep reading to learn how to improve the lighting for an easier – and less strenuous – reading experience.

Top Recommended Reading Lamps for Older Adults

Just want to see my top picks? Here they are! But please keep reading to learn more details about these models, how to buy a reading lamp for a senior and see my my other favorites.

Best Neck Light
Best Floor Lamp

How Reading Lamps Help Seniors and The Elderly

Seniors need more reading light for visibility, as compared to their younger counterparts. I know when I began having age-related vision problems, the first thing my eye doctor told me was to increase the light when I read. This reduces eye strain by enhancing overall visibility.

Reading lamps offer more than just practical visibility, though. They offer more vitality to the life of our loved ones. Our young-hearted elders can now enjoy their good ol’ romance novels thanks to a simple reading lamp.

But it’s more than just a good old romance novel. It’s about reviving the world of imagination through books. Adding more spark to life! The perfect reading light might just restore great reading in your life to provoke your imagination and restore life’s vitality to your senior.

Types of Reading Lamps to Consider

The wide variety of reading lamps available all over the globe can make it hard to pick the right one. Lamps, such as floor or desk lamps, neck reading lights, and eyeglass reading lights, are all possible lighting alternatives. In my experience, however, the best types of reading lamps are floor lamps, desk lamps, bedside lamps, wearable lamps, and portable lamps.

Floor lamps provide a wide range of illumination and can be adjusted in height. They provide very bright light beams that are ideal for the elderly. The majority of these come with adjustable angles as well.

Desk lamps, on the other hand, are useful for closer lighting and maybe simply positioned near bedside or office workbenches.

Clip-on desk lamps with magnifiers are an excellent alternative for the elderly. Bedside lamps are also great and basically function the same way desk lamps do.

Another wonderful alternative for simply focused illumination is wearable lamps. They can be worn on reading glasses or on the neck. In general, they greatly reduce the hassle of adjusting them every time. They are quite adaptable, just like their brothers, portable lamps.

Important Features of Reading Lamps

Picking the right reading lamp for a senior is more than just picking a type. Even after identifying the type of lamp that works best for you, for example, there are other features to consider.

Some of these include:

1. Bulb Type

Reading lights used to be made of incandescent bulbs, which carry energy through a metal filament. They are, however, inefficient in terms of energy consumption and burn out very rapidly. LEDs (light-emitting diodes) bulbs have therefore become very popular.

This is because they are inexpensive, safe, energy-efficient, long-lasting, and user-friendly. So, they have become the reading bulbs of choice in lamps of all shapes and sizes.

2. Plug-In vs Battery

Plug-in lamps are normally corded and are usually connected to a plug outlet for power. Cordless lamps, on the other hand, have inbuilt batteries that provide power. Their battery can either be rechargeable or not.

When a plug outlet is readily available at home, plug-in lamps are extremely beneficial. They don’t need to be recharged and may be plugged in and turned on or off at any moment.

Rechargeable batteries are used in cordless lamps, often with a lithium-ion core for long-lasting charges. Cordless reading lamps are available in a variety of forms, including travel-size book lights.

Many brands have begun to move into the cordless territory. This is because they give a sleeker look and allow the lamp to be moved anywhere.

RELATED: Best Touch Lamps for Seniors & the Elderly

3. Brightness Level

With today’s LED technology, it’s simple to find an extremely bright reading lamp that can also be dimmed as needed. Lumens, not watts, are used to quantify the brightness of LED lights.

When you’re reading in bed, the finest lights have a dimmable output of roughly 20 to 50 lumens. If you wish to brighten the entire room, a maximum output of over 100 lumens is also a smart option.

4. Flicker-Free Lights = Less Eye Strain

Flicker-free lamps effectively reduce eye strain, making them a great lighting option for the elderly. This is particularly important for seniors who are more sensitive to flicker than others.

Note that the flicker-free transmission option isn’t available on all of the units you’ll come across. It’s important you choose a model that has this option, especially if you suffer from headaches.

5. Adjustable Positions

Lighting bulbs with adjustable properties such as light intensity, location, portability, angles, and direction should be used to help bring comfort to the eyes of any older. Glare must be checked and adjusted to the bare minimum.

For the elderly, several light sources in various locations are preferable to a single bright source. The demands of elders are best served by a clear and closer beam.

That said, when picking a lamp, consider the lamp’s ability to adjust and its flexibility. When talking about adjustability, it is also important that the device is easy to use. It’s great if there are only a few buttons and that their operation is straightforward.

6. Light Color – Cool Light vs Warm Light

Different scenarios call for warm and cool reading lights. Bright white light makes it easier to discern between letters, which is beneficial for those who have problems seeing. Yellow light, on the other hand, is gentler on the eyes and does not affect your sleep. That said, yellow or warm light is better for night reading.

For some people, however, it may not be sufficient. As such, a dimmable light or one with many brightness settings would be perfect. In general, a lumen range of 20 to 50 will bright enough to view what’s on the page without being too harsh on the eyes.

Luckily, most LED lights offer two in one, with an adjustable effect from warm to cool.

7. Portability

Any lamp’s portability is a significant plus point. It can be utilized in a variety of settings and provides options for adjusting to a more comfortable setting. Portable lamps can be used to illuminate areas such as a desk, bed, couch, and could even be used as a nightlight for seniors when walking at night for visibility.

Portable lamps encourage your loved one to read more since they tend to be more versatile. Whether they are reading from a common room, or bed, or living room, they can take their reading lamps with them without a hassle. Most of them tend to be lightweight and battery rechargeable.

8. Built-In Magnification

A magnifying glass may be fitted in the middle of small LED bulbs on the sides. Such reading lamps are normally some of the best models of reading lamps for the elderly.

They are better for seniors who have an eye issue that makes it difficult to focus on small writing. Note that a magnifying glass can ignite a fire or harm your furniture when used in full sunlight.

9. Battery Life

Those who opt for a built-in battery must consider the capacity of the battery. The more the capacity, the longer the runtime will be. As such, a senior can read for an extended period of time using them without any problems. We would particularly recommend those with a rechargeable battery and long battery life as well.

The Problems of Blue Light at Bedtime

Different colors of light have different effects. Blue wavelengths are good during the day because they improve concentration, reaction times, and mood. At night, however, blue light appears to be the most disruptive.

A research study by researchers from Harvard showed that blue light reduces the release of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the brain in response to darkness. It helps with sleep. Being exposed to light at night can block melatonin production, but blue light has the most adverse effect.

As such, it is advisable to avoid lamps that emit blue light. More so, the aged should limit their exposure to blue wavelength by reducing their usage of electronics with screens especially after sundown. This reduces insomnia and enhances regular sleeping patterns. When they need to use screens emitting blue light, they should use eyewear that blocks blue light.

Top 10 Best Reading Lamps for the Elderly

Now that you know about the types of reading lights for older adults as well as the features you may be most interested in, here are some of my recommended models to consider.

Best Neck Light

This neck reading light is fitted with 2 LEDs on each side of the head to keep the eyes comfortable and strain-free. It comes with a flexible neckband made of a soft silicone surface that comfortable to wear. It is also a lightweight device, that is fitted with a long-lasting 700 MAH Li-ion rechargeable battery.

The battery has a life span of 1000 cycles equivalent to 3000 AAA batteries. It gives your loved one an impressive span of 7-40 hours of wireless reading time. That said, it saves energy and money.

Perhaps the best feature, however, is that the light comes as a flexible neckband that allows anyone to read without adjusting it every few minutes.

In fact, it could also be used to knit, do crafts or other hobbies the seniors is interested in. Lastly, it has 3 brightness levels that are suitable for reading as well as illumination over wide areas. All these features easily make the lamp a good competition to regular floor and table lamps.


TaoTronics is an official member of the Philips EnabLED light sourcing program which makes it a reliable brand. It is said to be energy-efficient and could reduce your light consumption by 75%. This taoTronics desk lamp is a reliable design and is stylish as well. Better yet, it’s made from a practical, scratch-free surface that promises durability.

The most striking feature about it however is the multitude of lighting modes it possesses. It has 5 different colors with 5 brightness levels for each of these colors. It also has a color temperature: 2700 – 6500 K, making it eye-friendly and ideal for reading. As the cherry on the cake, it has the flicker-free mechanism I recommend!


Lepower Metal Clip-on Light/ Reading Light

$17.99
Pros:
  • Flicker-Free technology
  • Highly Adjustable
  • Two options for tone and two for brightness
Cons:
  • Must stay plugged in
  • Cumbersome to use as a desk lamp
  • Too bulky to be a portable lamp.
See It At Amazon
09/18/2021 05:14 pm GMT

This is a small lamp that comes with a clip-on that can be connected to the headboard, nightstand, or desk of your bed. The clip is huge and robust, so it will not easily fall off. It includes two brightness and dimming settings, as well as two color adjustments that are easily accessible on the switch.

The lamp has a cord that is 5 feet long. As such, one needs to be close to a power outlet to use it. It also has a flexible light arm that can be twisted in any direction. Lately, it has a flicker-free mechanism to avoid eye strain.


Best Floor Lamp

It features 5 brightness settings, 3 color temperatures, 1815 Lumens, and changeable LED lights. It also comes with a non-flickering light output. It’s over 5 feet tall, but you can lower the flexible neck to illuminate your exact spot on the couch or in bed.


Best Magnifying Light

EasyLifeCare Chest Rest Illuminated Magnifying Glass

$27.59
Pros:
  • Not too bright, ideal to not bother others
  • Portable
  • A magnifying glass with a bifocal spot included
Cons:
  • Uses relatively expensive batteries
  • Not comfy to use
See It At Amazon
09/18/2021 04:45 pm GMT

It is a chest light with a 4.5-inch magnifying glass with 2.5x magnification and a bifocal 4x magnified spot, as well as a 4.5-inch magnifying glass with 2.5x magnification.

It’s great for reading quietly without annoying people, and it’s also great for knitting while watching TV. Though it’s not bright enough for reading in a dark room, it’s great as a complimentary light.


Aixpi Magnifying Glass with Light

$15.99
Pros:
  • Lightweight at 9 ounces
  • Portable, handheld light.
  • Medium brightness, ideal for reading in bed.
Cons:
  • Can be tiring to hold especially for people with arthritis.
  • The lamp can cause eye-strain
See It At Amazon
09/18/2021 05:07 pm GMT

It is a battery-operated light that gives readers handy flexibility because you’re able to move the light around the house. It also comes with a powerful 30x magnification lens. The light is however only 12 lumen which makes it ideal for reading around others.


Tsingree LED Neck Book Light

$12.99
Pros:
  • Easy to use
  • Adjustable fit
  • Lightweight at 4 ounces
  • Rechargeable battery
Cons:
  • Quite bright so it can be a bother to others
See It At Amazon
09/18/2021 05:02 pm GMT

It is yet another neck light that is lightweight, affordable, and portable. Both of its ends have two LED bulbs of 20 lumens. It also comes with a rechargeable battery. Lastly, it is easy to use.


Brightech Dylan Farmhouse Floor Lamp

$84.99
Pros:
  • Impressive durability
  • Dimmable
  • Easy to assemble
  • Vintage rustic aesthetic look
Cons:
  • For its build, it is not sturdy enough
  • Unsightly cord
See It At Amazon
09/18/2021 04:56 pm GMT

This floor lamp is aesthetically good-looking. It has an adjustable pole that can be twisted by 180 degrees. The most unique feature is its Virtual AI compatibility with Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google home assistant. The best is that it has a 20-year bulb life and a 3-year warranty.


Original Mighty Bright NuFlex Clip-on Book Light Reading Light

$19.19
Pros:
  • Can be clipped on a book
  • Rechargeable AAA battery
  • Portable, lightweight, and multipurpose
  • Warm optim
Cons:
  • Barely durable
  • Limited brightness levels
See It At Amazon
09/18/2021 04:50 pm GMT

It’s a rechargeable reading light that has an adjustable neck. It is made of silicone, which makes it lightweight and portable. The light comes with 35 Lumens of adjustable brightness. With its 3 dimmable levels and light that shines like natural light, people use it as a reading light, computer light, and for traveling as well.


Allomn Mini LED Eyeglass Reading Light

Pros:
  • Super portable
  • Super comfortable
  • Adjustable to the angle one wants
Cons:
  • Not rechargeable, so batteries need to be replaced after running out of charge
  • Users have to own a p
See It At Amazon

Last but not least, this one is ideal for seniors who would prefer to clip the light onto their glasses. It is perhaps the most comfortable since it moves as you move. As such, you do not have to adjust the lamp after shifting positions. You could forget you’re using the lights because reading is so comfortable.

The light can be clamped on any type of glasses and rotates 360 degrees. 2 reading lights, 2 clips, and 4 batteries are included in the box. Because reading glasses aren’t included, you’ll need to bring your own.

How to Make Ambient Light Better for Reading

Ambient light can come from windows, wall lights, pendants, ceiling-mounted lights, or chandeliers. To make the most of ambient light, take advantage of natural illumination during the day. You could also reflect natural light using brighter walls and furniture. This increases ambient light for reading.

As for lighting fixtures, mix them up a little to add to the overall intensity. This makes it easier for seniors to read with ambient light. Ambient light should also not cast shadows in the room, but rather offer a soft general glow. Lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment with fluorescent lighting!

RELATED: Best Lighting for Seniors

How to Make Reading in Bed Easier

If your loved one is fond of reading in bed, there are a few tips that could make this comfortable. First, get a bed wedge pillow to make it easier for the back and neck. You could also opt for an LED book light for proper light without straining your partner.

Lastly, a book seat will come in handy. It holds a book and tablet when reading, making reading in bed more bearable.

How to Read in Bed Without Disturbing Others

Sometimes reading in bed can be bothersome to partners. This is particularly because of the light. That said, opt for a light that does not disturb a sleepy partner. Booklights, headlamps, and task lamps are particularly helpful. You could also ask your partner to use an eye mask if they are comfortable doing so.

Final Words

Reading in the correct light is essential, especially in old age. One should choose a good reading light, which provides flexible lighting, anti-glare features, portability, night light options, and many others. Choosing the best light is entirely upon you, as a matter of preference and budget.

Those looking for lights that do not disturb their partners could for example go for the Allomn Mini LED Eyeglass Reading Light. On the other hand, those looking for a durable lamp with a lot of lighting options could choose the TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp. With any of the ten, however, you are deemed to pick the right one.

Do you have a reading lamp that you recommend or other tips for making reading easier for seniors and the elderly? Please share in the comments below!

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