Trump Voters Need LED Bulbs

©. Why does this man look so orange?/ Alex Wong, Getty Images

He is pushing incandescents, but your eyes change as you age, and older people need brighter, bluer and lots more light.

The President of the United States of America spoke at a rally recently and complained about light bulbs.

The light bulb. People said what's with the light bulb? I said here's the story. And I looked at it, the bulb that we're being forced to use, number one to me, most importantly, the light's no good. I always look orange. And so do you. The light is the worst. But number two, it's many times more expensive than that old incandescent bulb that worked very well. And very importantly— I don't know if you know this—they have warnings. If it breaks it's considered a hazardous waste site. It's gases inside. And read what they say. If it breaks bring it to your local whatever, have it wrapped, have it this— what are we doing? What are we doing? And I said to one of the top people today, well they break a lot don't they? Yes they do, they just throw them away, they don't care.

There are a few grains of truth in here, especially if one is talking in 2009 instead of 2019. If you try and buy a light bulb now, you will find that they are all LEDs, not compact fluorescent bulbs. They are not hazardous; they do not have dangerous gases inside. They are not much more expensive to purchase and, if you include operating costs, they are far cheaper.

But let's talk about how they make him look orange. He continued:

I’m not a vain person. I know I have no vain people [as supporters], especially these incredible ladies in the front. But I look better under an incandescent light than these crazy lights that are beaming down on us!

color temp

© SeeSmart LEDs

In this case, he is right; people do look better under incandescent light. It is warmer, with a color temperature around 2700K, the color of a piece of metal heated to 2700 degrees Kelvin. The hotter the metal gets, the whiter (and bluer) the light. Sunlight is up at 10,000K and we actually see better under it, especially as we age. But it is not what we are used to inside. We have had 120 years of incandescent light and millennia of candlelight, and we are conditioned to it.

People of a certain age may remember that when you bought color film for your cameras, there was "tungsten", tuned for 3200K, and "daylight" films, tuned for 5600K. If you used daylight film inside, everybody looked orange because the incandescent lights put out so much red.

But if you go into a stadium where they are filming sports teams or politicians, you want whiter, brighter light that fires up the blues and every other color; you don't want everything looking orange and red. The lights are tuned to be more like sunlight, not indoor light. Anyone who put on makeup or spray tan under incandescent light is going to look different.

Older eyes need bluer, brighter light.

Trump supporters visiting Trump tower

© Drew Angerer/ Getty Images

The biggest problem with the President's pitch for incandescents is that his voters tend to be older, and as people age, their lighting needs change. According to the Lighting Research Center, older eyes have:

  • Reduced retinal illuminance - The retina receives less light as one ages because pupil size becomes smaller (senile miosis) and the crystalline lens becomes thicker and more absorptive. It is estimated that for the same light level, a typical 60-year old receives about one-third the retinal illuminance of a 20-year old.
  • Reduced contrast and color saturation - The crystalline lens becomes less clear and, as a result, begins to scatter more light as one ages. This scattered light reduces the contrast of the retinal image. This effect also adds a "luminous veil" over colored images on the retina, thus reducing their vividness (saturation). Reds begin to look like pinks, for example.
  • Reduced ability to discriminate blue colors - The older eye loses some sensitivity to short wavelengths ("blue light") due to progressive yellowing of the crystalline lens.

LED lights have been a revolution, a gift for older eyes. People whose eyes are changing with age can pump up the output without cooking from the heat, and you can pump up the color temperature, the blue light, that older eyes need. You can put more lights in more places, which older eyes also need; according to the Lighting Research Center,

Because the older visual system cannot completely adapt to dim conditions, light levels in transitional spaces such as hallways and entrance foyers should be balanced with those of the adjacent spaces. Create intermediate light levels in transitional spaces that lead from bright to dim areas. This will enable older adults to adapt more completely as they move [through] the different spaces.

Because of his vanity, the President is encouraging his voters to live with less light of the wrong color. They are more likely to trip or fall because they don't have lighting everywhere they need it. Perhaps he doesn't want them to be able to read.