Does Reading in the Dark Hurt Your Eyes?

As a child, we all heard it one too many times, “Reading in the dark will hurt your eyes.” But how much of this is true? Is reading in the dark really bad for your eyes?

Reading in the dark won’t cause permanent damage to your eyes, but it can lead to headaches and eye strain. Whether you’re reading a paperback book, a tablet or mobile smartphone, you should understand how reading with proper lighting helps avoid eye strain.

Adjusting Your Workspace to Reduce Eye Strain

The best way to benefit from the light level and positioning of lighting for a comfortable read with minimal eye strain is to choose a relatively bright light that comes over the shoulder rather than in front of you or right above your head. One such example is a goose neck lamp, which provides adequate lighting levels without the glare of a light that is right in your face.

To properly adjust your workspace to reduce eye strain, here are some tips:

  • Reduce interior lighting- Most offices have harsh interior lighting that can contribute to eyestrain. If possible, use fewer light bulbs and fluorescent tubes.
  • Minimize glare- If there is a window directly in front or behind you, the glare and reflection on your computer screen increases eye strain. You can move or adjust your workstation, close the blinds or get an anti-reflective coating on your glasses to reduce glare.
  • Adjust screen brightness- The blue light from the computer also contributes to eye strain. Adjust the brightness of your screen so it’s approximately the same as your surrounding workstation can help.

Improve the Lighting in Your Home

While reading in the dark won’t do any long-term damage, it can give you a nasty headache and cause eye strain. Reduce the labor on your eyes by taking advantage of task lighting around your home. Task lighting can help reduce your risk of eye strain when you’re doing near-work for longer amounts of time. Consider using:

  • Desk lamps
  • Reading lamps
  • Under-cabinet lighting

Task lighting also refers to any artificial light that increases illumination for activities such as reading. Using a desk lamp with a bendable neck can help you read more comfortably as it will allow you to angle the light to exactly where you need it while reducing any glare.

Task lighting should be 100-watts for lamps but if it feels uncomfortable to you, ask your doctor what might work better.

How to Choose Brightness of Reading Area?

Whether it is at home or workplace, many people have switched from reading physical books to reading on digital devices. This includes academic textbooks and work manuals. It’s important to be mindful of the brightness of a digital screen versus the lighting of the area you’re reading in. A good rule of thumb is the lighting of the area you’re reading in should be as bright as or brighter than the light on your digital device.

Avoid reading in dark rooms because it can cause eye discomfort and that can lead to a lower concentration and disorientation. This causes your eyes to work constantly, adjusting between the brightness of the screen and the dimly lit surroundings. Also, avoid reading in harsh lights like florescent lighting because some people suffer from migraines and this problem can worsen over time.

What About LED Lighting?

LED lighting is becoming more popular because they last longer than conventional lights and many people use them as reading lamps for their homes or workspace. They come in different strengths so you will need to find out which strength works best for you. LED lights may also gradually fade over time so you’ll need to replace the batteries when the light starts to grow dimmer, to avoid eye strain.

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