Is Reading in the Dark Bad for Your Eyes?

Submitted by abhowmick on Mon, 05/02/2022 - 16:48

Growing up, you were probably scolded not to read in the dark or else you’ll end up with bad eyesight or have to wear glasses, but how much of that is true? Most ophthalmologists would agree that reading in the dark won’t actually damage your eyesight, but it can lead to eyestrain. Overworking the muscles in your eyes can make them tired faster and cause headaches, blurred vision, and become more sensitive to light.

There haven’t been any studies focusing on the long term effects of reading in the dark, according to the BBC article, “Is reading in the dark bad for your eyesight?,” by Claudia Hammond, but she describes other possible factors that could piece together the effects of low light reading.

Genetics is a potent factor in the quality of the child’s eyesight. If both parents have myopia, then the child has a 40% chance of also being short-sighted, but if neither of them do, then the child only has a 10% chance.   

Environmental factors such as exposure to sunlight also illustrated to have an effect on eyesight. There is a high percentage of students in parts of East and SouthEast Asia (80-90%) that have myopia (shortsightedness) and this could be due to the long hours children there spend studying inside compared to other parts of the world. 

The Sydney Myopia Study found that the more time kids spend outside, the less likely they were to develop myopia. It was hypothesized (not tested yet) that daylight increases dopamine levels which could affect eye growth. 

Link to the study:

In essence, it would be beneficial for children to spend some time outside and try not to strain your eyes while reading in the dark by having more light exposure, eye exercises, using the 20-20-20 rule which is looking away at something 20 feet away for 20 second after spending 20 minutes on screen time, and blinking to keep your eyes from drying. 




Submitted by eeggers on Fri, 05/06/2022 - 11:22


This sounds good.  My only suggestion is that you either define the 20-20-20 rule or link to an article about it.