The impact of light on human health has long been acknowledged, with even ancient civilisations proclaiming the importance of daylight on our happiness and wellbeing.
While much of this was forgotten during the Dark Ages, humankind saw the light once again as we began to understand more about the role of sunlight in the release of serotonin, the mood-boosting hormone. Without enough sun exposure, serotonin levels can dip, creating an increased risk of depression.
But exposure to adequate sunlight is about so much more than mood. Our physical wellbeing also depends on it, with exposure to daylight also linked to building strong bones, healing skin conditions and even preventing some cancers.
What’s more, research suggests that access to daylight can play an important role in hospital patients, providing a reduction in the average length of a hospital stay, a quicker post-operative recovery, and a reduced need for pain relief. A 2006 study of myocardial infarction patients in a cardiac intensive-care unit found that female patients stayed a shorter time in sunny rooms than those in dull rooms, with mortality in both sexes consistently higher in darker environments.
Raising the curtain
With the need to accommodate as many patients as a ward will allow, many hospitals make use of curtains between beds to provide privacy. But not only can these restrict access to sunlight, they aren’t always the most hygienic option. “These curtains can remain in place for months before they are eventually washed or disposed of which requires resources and raises questions around sustainability,” says Natalie Carrick, business development director and head of sales at Eyrise, a leading manufacturer of innovative privacy glazing.
In fact, UK hospitals are only required to clean privacy curtains every six months, despite studies showing that they are swarming with bacteria.
But privacy in a clinical setting is essential, so what’s the alternative? According to Carrick, there has never been a better time for hospitals to implement smart glass. “Privacy glazing removes the need to compromise between one state or the other. In the past, wherever you had walls, you can now have glass that offers both privacy and complete transparency to allow daylight to flow from the outside of a building.
“For patients, hospital stays can be very stressful, which can negatively affect their mental and emotional health and, as research suggests, with a possible impact upon their recovery time. Having the option to watch some element of the world going on outside of you, or to be able to choose when you want to interact and feel some sort of social proximity to others, and when you just want to retreat and rest, could be a real benefit for patients.”
And when it comes to hygiene, privacy glass provides further benefits, with the ability to disinfect and control the spread of disease in the same way you would a normal piece of glass.
Leaders in liquid crystal technology since 1904, Eyrise B.V., an affiliate of Merck KGaA Darmstadt, Germany, has developed dynamic glass that encourage wellbeing by maximising the full benefits of natural light, while offering the option of instant privacy.
In fact, Eyrise®’s new i350 privacy glass has the potential to revolutionise the hospital experience. Unlike other products available on the market, this dynamic glass provides complete transparency, and can switch from translucent to clear instantaneously.
“Eyrise® offers an exceptionally clear state and with minimal residual haze in all different viewing directions,” explains Carrick. “While the features we offer are particularly important in clinical settings, they are beneficial in any environment where light, access to daylight, and the ability to interact is present alongside the ability to have a private, confidential space. Essentially, we’re bringing innovation to an existing market, but until now there wasn’t a product available that lived up to promised levels of performance and user experience
“This product, though, is a game changer, and it’s one that has exceptional performance, delivering the benefits of interchangeable privacy and complete transparency at the flick of a switch.”
For more information about Merck and Eyrise® i350 invisible privacy glazing, please view the documentary below.