Is Reading in Dim Light Bad for Your Eyes?

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Whether you are trying to read a map when your torch has died on your travels, or simply too lazy to switch your light on at night, sometimes, it’s simply more convenient to read in the dark.

Although you may not think too much into it, when reading, we use the muscles in our eyes a lot. This is pretty much like how we use any other part of the body. The amount of light our eyes receive has an effect on those muscles and the way they work.

Is reading in dim light bad for your eyes? You may have heard this a thousand times, but is there any truth in it?

Is Reading in Dim Light Bad for Your Eyes?

In this article, we take a closer look into this myth and how it affects the eyes. We will also talk about alternatives you can consider when trying to improve your nighttime reading for the better!

The Myth

From our grandparents to our friends, we’ve all heard it before: Reading in dim light will worsen your vision. The thinking behind this belief is that, obviously, without enough light, the eyes will have to work harder to focus in on the words.

Then again, the fact of the matter is that reading in dim light doesn’t necessarily mean that your eyes will suffer. The eyes will probably have to work a little harder, but this will not leave you with bad eyesight. Definitely, however, your vision will get a little blurry over time.

The Truth

Reading in dim light will not worsen your eyesight. Instead, it will tire your eyes out quicker. This is because, as mentioned earlier, your eyes will have to work overtime to try and read every word with as less light as possible.

When you have the correct amount of light when reading or doing any other activity, your eye muscles will be in a relaxed state and will not have to focus in on the words as much to try and see them. This is also known as eye-straining.

If you keep reading in the dark every night, your eyes will strain more and more, eventually leaving you with a very tired look during the day. Eyestrain happens when your visual muscles receive mixed signals due to tiredness.

Techniques to Improve Nighttime Reading

If you want to avoid the strained-eye look, then there are a few things you can consider to do in order to improve your nighttime reading experience. We take a look at some of them below.

Use a Book Light

Book lights are probably the best option you can do to help stop your eyes from straining when reading at night. These can be a great little addition to your bedside, and depending on the design you get, it can even be clipped on to your book!

Book lights have been around for a while. They have simple, small flexible structures that can be adjusted to your liking and clipped onto an edge with their strong clip. Of course, they feature a mini light bulb, and some designs allow the option to select the exact brightness to your preferred level.

There are many different book lights available on the market, and the majority aren’t too expensive, which means that you should be able to find one pretty easily. They also come in varying styles, so you can choose the one that suits your preferences the most.

Use a Daylight Lamp

When it comes to the choice of lamps for your bedroom, or wherever the reading takes place, daylight lamps can be a good option. These are beneficial for the eyes because they tend to lower the risks of eye strain. How so? These bulbs are known to cause less glare than any other type of lighting.

Therefore, if you are deciding which bulbs to choose, natural daylight bulbs may be the way to go if you want to help your eyes. Not only will you be helping your eyes but also the environment as these bulbs can come in energy efficient versions that last up to 10,000 hours!

Wear Reading Glasses

If you don’t wear glasses, then you might not think glasses can help you out. When it involves eye strain, however, there are special reading glasses you can buy that will help eliminate the problem altogether.

Reading glasses do this through their anti-reflective coating, which helps stop eye strain, as the eyes can rely on the lenses to do the extra work. The best way to get a pair would be to see an optician first to find out your exact eye prescription needed, and then look for pairs based on that.

Custom-made reading glasses are also available. These suit your eyes better than the easy-to-find, ready-made styles at the pharmacy or dollar store, and these will be suited to your eyes better.

Best Reading Practice

If you have decided to purchase a book light, then the best way to position it is to have it shine directly on the page, rather than over the shoulder. If, instead, you have a desk lamp, regardless if it has a natural light bulb or not, the best way would be to point it directly at the book.

Any light that shines over your shoulder will create a slight glare, and this makes it more difficult to read the material.


So is reading in dim light bad for your eyes? Well, we think that this is just a slight myth. Why? looking back into history, throughout the centuries, all reading and sewing were done by simple candlelight, gas, or kerosene lamps.

Good lighting, however, does make reading a lot easier, and definitely prevents eye strain and fatigue. So if you want to have better eyes to read, then we highly recommend looking for some nice lights to help you out.

To finish, we hope this article has shed some light on reading in dim light, and how this myth is just that—a myth! Hopefully, you will be able to understand what your eyes need, whether it be a new book light, a daylight lamp, or even reading glasses.

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