Is it bad to read in the dark?

Tina Patel Tina Patel
Tuesday, 06 September 2022 Share this blog: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Copy link Copy Link

Although it’s not always easy to read in the dark, sometimes it just happens. Reading in bed with the light off means you don’t have to get up and turn it off when you want to go to sleep, or if you end up falling asleep with your head in your book, at least you’ll already be in the dark. Is challenging visual work such as reading in the dark bad for your eye health? Well, the answer is yes and no. We will go into detail about how reading in the dark can affect your eyes.

is reading in the dark bad

Can you read in the dark?

If you’ve never tried reading in the dark, it’s definitely possible! Our eyes are brilliantly adaptable and can adjust to different light levels. Your pupil will dilate and constrict to allow more or less light to pass through to the retina. Although the adjustment isn’t instant, which explains why you are initially blinded when you turn a light on after spending some time in darkness.

Does reading in the dark harm your eyes?

Reading in dim light won’t necessarily hurt your eyes, but it will give you temporary eye strain. This can bring about some uncomfortable symptoms such as:

  • Tired or sore eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Headaches

Although eye fatigue is temporary and won't have any long-term effects, they can be prolonged the more you strain your eyes.

How can I avoid eye strain?

If you find yourself reading in the dark a lot and your eyes are suffering as a result, there are some things you can do.

Reading next to a bedside lamp

A lamp will give you enough light to read in comfortably with the bonus of turning the lamp off easily without having to get up.

Use a clip-on lamp

A clip-on lamp can be very handy because you can use it at home or on your travels. The small lamp easily clips onto your e-reading device, you could clip it onto your physical books.

Take regular breaks from the screen

If you’re staring at digital screens for most of the day and then reading in low light conditions on top of that, you’ll have tired eyes by the end of the day. Whether you are reading from a digital device in the daytime or the dark, it’s important to give your eyes regular breaks. This is what you can do - every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet into the distance for at least 20 seconds. This will give your eyes enough time to take a break from focusing on something at such a close distance for such a long time.

Blink more often

When reading, our blink-rate can naturally reduce because we are concentrating. Make an effort to blink more regularly when you are reading. Blinking helps the eyes replenish moisture and feel more refreshed, which can help you avoid getting dry eye.

Is reading in dark mode bad for eyes?

You may have noticed that your phone has something called ‘dark mode’. This feature turns your phone display darker and essentially reverse the colour palette, making the background black and the text displayed as white. Using your phone in this mode can feel a little easier on your eyes because the amount of light emitted is reduced.

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