Old Wives’ Tale: Dim Reading

If you are anything like me, you love to read. I used to wear cargo pants and carry a book around in one of the pockets; I was especially fond of Tolkien’s works. And since I loved reading so much, I would read whenever I found a few minutes of time, regardless of the light. Many of my family told me that I would hurt my eyes and need glasses if I kept reading in the dark, and now I need corrective lenses. Were they right, or was that just coincidence?

Coincidence. A quick google search will lead you to an article by the ever-helpful website WebMD that reassures us that there is no scientific evidence that  reading in dim light results in any long lasting effects; it only gives the reader eye fatigue or strain. Harvard also points out some other myths about eyesight, such as eating carrots to improve vision.

“No scientific evidence” could mean that it could actually contribute to poor eye health in the long run but no one has proved this yet, but that is a stretch. It is far more likely that those who have spent years studying the eye know what is harmful to the eye and what is not. I could not find any peer-reviewed journal articles supporting or rejecting the claim that dim light reading leads to worse vision, although I did find a study that you may find interesting. According to this study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), the use of light-emitting eReaders versus a printed book before bed can make it more difficult for you to sleep and impacts your circadian system as the light increases alertness when used immediately before attempting sleep.

So if you want super vision, put down the carrots and stop worrying about the light levels; the best thing for you is probably some form of exposure to massive levels of radiation. I kid! I kid!

Fare thee well, and thanks for reading!

Featured image from Unsplash.com’s Kate Williams.

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