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How Does Reading in the Dark Affect Your Eyes?

It’s a common belief that reading in the dark will ruin your eyes—after all, mother always said so, right? Were you the type to curl up in bed with only the soft beam of a flashlight to guide your reading? Well, good news! Most experts agree that reading in the dark is safe, as far as eyesight is concerned.

The eye care professionals at The Eyewear Place in Fort McMurray and Lloydminster, Alberta have debunked the myth for your peace of mind.


Ah, the golden question! There is in fact no obvious correlation between reading in low light conditions and permanent eye damage. Rather, genetic research shows that family history is what largely determines a person’s long-term visual health, regardless of whether or not they read in the dark. So, does that mean you should grab your flashlight or huddle close to your nightstand to get a few riveting pages in before bed every night? We wouldn’t recommend it.


Dim lighting makes it more difficult to read in the dark because your eyes’ ability to see fine detail is diminished. While reading in the dark won’t necessarily weaken your eyesight, it will most likely cause temporary discomfort related to eyestrains, which includes ocular fatigue, gnawing headaches, itchy eyes, blurred vision and an increased sensitivity to light.


To avoid overworking your eyes when reading, your trusted optometrists at The Eyewear Place have shared a few valuable tips below:

  • Read in a sunny or well-lit area whenever possible. Remember, your eyes are better at detecting fine detail in bright spaces.

  • Improve your eye muscle flexibility by moving your eyes up and down, side to side or in a figure eight.

  • Don’t forget to blink! Blinking moistens your eyes and keeps them refreshed so that they don’t dry out.

  • When reading on a tablet or other electronic device, follow the 20/20/20 rule. The concept is simple: after every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and focus on something approximately 20 feet away.

  • Gently massage the muscles around your eyes to alleviate any discomfort.

Your eyes naturally weaken with time, regardless of whether or not you’re an avid reader. Regular visits to your trusted optometrist in Central Alberta are necessary to detect eyesight issues or early signs of ocular disease (glaucoma, cataracts, etc.). At The Eyewear Place in Fort McMurray and Lloydminster, Alberta, we do more than measure your eyesight!

If you have an eye question that you want answered, contact The Eyewear Place today! We love helping patients make their eye health a priority.



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