Is Reading in the Dark Bad for Your Eyes?

Published on October 29, 2015

As a child it often seems rather exciting to read in the dark with nothing more than a torch to light up the pages of the book you are reading. It can be even more fun to pull the covers up over your head and read under the blankets, as this makes it even darker and more thrilling. However, there are some people who continue to read in relative darkness even as adults, with nothing more than a subdued table lamp or other limited lighting by which to see.

Of course, many of us have heard the various myths, old wives’ tales and stories about how reading in the dark can damage your eyesight and leave you with limited vision if you continue doing it. But just how much truth is in these – is reading in the dark bad for your eyes? Well, it is important to look at research and proven information if you are wondering ‘is it bad to read in the dark?’


Is reading in the dark bad according to medical evidence?

While our parents and grandparents may have frightened us as kids by telling us how reading in the dark would ruin our vision, medical evidence shows that although reading in the dark can cause eye strain it does not actually weaken your eyes or affect your eyesight. However, what may happen is that you start to get a headache or your eyes start to feel very tired because you are having to strain to see the words on the pages.

It is also worth noting that you can suffer from strain and headaches if you are reading in very bright light as well, whether this is natural light such as bright sunshine or artificial light. It is therefore well worth looking at getting the lighting just right if you are planning to settle down and enjoy a few hours of reading. This means not having the lights on full but also making sure that the lighting is not too subdued, as either way you could end up feeling the strain.

So, in answer to the question ‘is reading in the dark bad for your eyes?’ the conclusion would be that it isn’t bad for your eyes but it may result in discomfort, eye strain and headaches. It also makes it more difficult to see the words on the pages, which could adversely affect the pleasure that comes with immersing yourself in your favourite book or reading material.

Eye experts state that the best way to benefit from the light level and positioning of lighting for a comfortable read with minimal eye strain is to opt for a relatively bright light but one that comes over the shoulder rather than in front of you or right above your head. This could be something along the lines of a goose neck lamp, which will enable you to enjoy adequate lighting levels for a comfortable read without the glare of a light that is right in your face.        

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