The Halo effect and Glare from Sports lighting

All athletes have experience with the halo effect from glare when competing.

When the contrast between the light source and its background are exaggerated the eye struggles to adjust causing scattering in the eye.

If the light source is simply too strong (example: the sun in a clear sky) we suffer the same issues


Typical Stadium lighting from the last 20 years

Athletes cannot be satisfied with less than the clearest and most accurate vision.

How to manage the problem?

Outdoor sports played during the day, we very often see sunglasses in use. The sunglasses industry have made huge steps forward in eliminating glare from sunlight.

The lighting industry faces many more obstacles. Let’s address a few of them.

Stadium lighting against the night sky. Recently, the World Cup soccer stadiums installed the lighting within the stand to reduce the conflict of light against the dark sky and eliminated light pollution to the outside of the stadium. Yankee stadium introduced narrow beam reflector LED’s with zero flicker to control glare.

Indoor lighting Sports lighting. Needless to say, this encompasses many sports. Let’s take the smallest ball – Squash. The largest ball – Basketball.

Squash The game of Squash must use indirect lighting, we want to create a whiteboard effect in the background to illuminate the ball. Using direct lighting will only increase the contrast to a glare level, very often causing the halo effect in the eye. The introduction of the LED is somewhat of a problem, an LED chip is a very concentrated light and must be used in the correct setup. Very often we see the fluorescent tubes being exchanged for LED tubes, this will brighten up the court but cause eye strain and glare discomfort. The introduction of Edge-Lit LED fixtures will solve the problem. Also used on LED tv’s, the indirect light offers visual comfort for the eye. As seen in the image below, the LED light source is directed from the fixture edge with a diffusion plate to further assist. To improve the experience we recommend a white ceiling to eliminate contrast.

Basketball Although played with a larger ball visual clarity is essential. Being able to pick out your fellow teammate in high-speed action can be assisted by having great light uniformity. In the past, many gyms have opted for underlit facilities because the lighting on offer was far too bright and direct. This would also create unwanted shadows making dribbling more difficult. The positioning of lighting is as important, lighting must be high enough not to hinder vision when shooting a 3-pointer.

In Summary

Athletes have grown accustomed to dealing with poor lighting conditions over the last half-century. Today it’s a different story, lighting technology is allowing athletes to play at the highest levels. In sports details matter,  the lighting industry is eliminating the halo from glare, one less thing to think about.

All sports must follow the UNE-EN12193 lighting standard for Sports.