Featured In  Free Premium Anti-glare 30 Under 30 Europe 2024

Is Reading in the Dark Bad for Eyesight?

Is Reading in the Dark Bad for Eyesight?

As lives get busier and time crunch looms over our heads, it is quite common to get into the habit of reading or working on the laptop at night, under dim lights. As someone who works a 9-to-5, reading in the dark has become a go-to habit of mine. Just like any other common Britisher, I am constantly bugged by the question, ‘is reading in the dark bad for eyesight.’ Well, after thorough research and in-person consultation with expert optometrists, I can offer my two cents on the topic. So, without further ado, let us dive in!

What are the Effects of Reading in the Dark?

The crux of the matter remains that there is no convenient set of studies that have examined the long-term effects of reading in the dark. So, we have to depend on fragmented evidence and try to piece together a cohesive picture. To begin with, let us clear one thing - reading in the dark will not damage your eyesight permanently, but it might cause temporary harm.

According to an article published on the University of Arizona’s educational platform, the misconceptions about reading in the dark persists everywhere. And, most professionals agree on the fact that the act of reading in the dark does not damage the eyes, but can lead to eye fatigue. So, the age-old warnings from our parents when we used flashlights under the covers to read a storybook are a tad bit skewed.

Similarly, another British study found that close work, such as reading, using smartphones and laptops, etc., could influence the onset of short-sightedness in adults, but these elements are not nearly as important as birth weight, expectant mothers smoking during pregnancy, and more. Besides, a twin study on PubMed conducted in the UK reveals that 86 percent of the spread of people’s eyesight score could be explained by genetic factors.

For instance, if both your parents are short-sighted, there is a 40 percent chance that you also suffer from myopia. On the contrary, if both your parents have good vision, the risk plunges to 10 percent. So, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that reading in the dark can lead to long-term or permanent damage to our eyes or deteriorate our vision, causing myopia or near-sightedness But, the act can, in fact, lead to eye strain.

Difference between Eye Damage and Eye Strain

Eye damage happens when your eyesight is permanently harmed. On the contrary, eye strain is not permanent. It is a temporary discomfort or pain, which results from reading in the dark, driving for a long time, working on digital devices for a long time, or focusing on small prints under minimal lighting. Eye strain can cause headaches, sensitivity in the eyes, soreness, itching, and burning of the eyes. In addition, eye strain can also affect vision or sight temporarily, while you are experiencing the strain.

How Does Reading in the Dark Cause Eye Strain?

How Does Reading in the Dark Cause Eye Strain

Most humans, fortunately, are blessed with good vision. But, it is important to remember that we are not nocturnal beings - we don’t have the sharp night vision that owls, tigers, or even cats have. So, reading, writing, or focusing under dim lights is hard work for the eyes, and it is natural for them to get tired in the process.

As the name suggests, eye strain happens when our eyes are overworking. Our retina is inherently designed to adapt to different light conditions, but it needs time to adjust to new light situations. Moreover, the muscles in the eye that facilitate the focusing of light onto the retina also have to work extra hard when the lights are dim or low. Thus, resulting in the muscles fatiguing. Some of the other pertinent reasons why reading under dim lights causes eye strain are -

  • It is harder for the eyes to focus on low light
  • Other untreated conditions may accelerate eye strain
  • We blink more when reading in dim light, leading to dry eyes and aggravating the eye strain.
  • Myopia or astigmatism can also make reading under low light more challenging.

What about Reading on an iPad, Kindle or Phone in Dark?

To the untrained eye, reading in the dark from a phone, Kindle, or iPad might seem like a more feasible idea because of the embedded light source. But, unfortunately, reading on a digital device can also cause eye strain. According to the American Optometric Association, the letters on blue-light emitting devices are not as sharp as that of a book, thereby compromising on the contrast level. The culmination is eye strain.

In addition, looking at a bright screen in low lights is also difficult work for the eyes. It compels our eyes to adjust between the bright screen of a phone or Kindle and the dark room constantly. Thus, the result is a unique type of eye strain known as computer vision syndrome. Besides, few studies also hint to the fact that overindulgence in near-vision activities like reading from a blue-light device might cause myopia or other eye-related problems.

Tips and Tricks to Avoid Eye Strain Caused by Reading in the Dark

Tips and Tricks to Avoid Eye Strain Caused

Reading in the dark is an avoidable situation. So, the obvious and easiest way to avoid eye strain caused by reading under low light is to turn on the lights. But, the problem has other solutions, as well!

  • Consult a professional and ask for anti- blue light glasses

  • Remember to blink as much as possible to avoid dry eyes
  • Use eye drops for lubrication
  • You can also consult an optometrist and consider reading glasses

  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule - after every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at an object at least 20 feet away
  • Opt for eye tests and regularly visit your optometrist

Affix the best-quality anti blue-light filters onto your prescription or non-prescription glasses starting at just £15!

Comprehensive Vision Care Begins with Small Steps

Of course, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that reading in the dark causes permanent eye damage or deteriorates your vision. But, we cannot ignore the fact that reading in the dark does lead to eye strain, which has multiple uncomfortable repercussions.

So, taking small steps is important to ensure comprehensive care of your eyesight. At Specscart, we provide free eye tests, and are on a mission to make eyecare accessible to all. So, visit our store for a free eye checkup today.






Specscart Rocket
24Hr Dispatch

Fastest in the UK.
Largest prescription range.
Free next day delivery.

Learn More
Specscart Free Home Trial

Free Try At Home 2.0

4 Frames 3 Lenses 1 Laser For 7 Days

It’s an experience!

Try Now
Specscart Shop Online Mens Glasses Shop Men Specscart Shop Online Womens Glasses Shop Women
Specscart Shop Online Mens Sunlasses Shop Men Specscart Shop Online Womens Sunlasses Shop Women