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Can Reading in Low Light Hurt My Eyes?

For decades our mothers and fathers have been chiding children everywhere for reading under the covers at night. However, to the joy of book lovers everywhere, the old belief that reading in dim light will damage your eyes is a myth. However, just as your legs hurt after a long run but still function your eyes may become strained or fatigued from various activities, including reading in low light.

Our eyes are truly wondrous mechanisms, and can automatically adjust to different light levels. When the light is bright your pupils contract, limiting the amount of light that is let into your eye. When you are in dim light your pupils dilate, allowing as much light as possible into your eye. Both extremes cause your eyes to work harder than normal, which can cause fatigue. However, there is no scientific evidence that reading in the dark causes any long term harm to your eyes.

However, reading in insufficient light can make your eyes dry out because you tend blink less often. Though this can make your eyes uncomfortable it has no effect on the function or structure of your eyes, and can be easily fixed by taking a break or by using over-the-counter eye drops.

What puts the most stress on your eyes is staring at a screen, either at your desk or in your hand, for prolonged periods of time. Though your vision will not be harmed, your eyes may get extremely dry and you may suffer from blurry vision, fatigue or headaches.

Whether you are reading in the dark before bed or staring at a screen it is still a good idea to take a break every so often, especially if your eyes feel dry or fatigued.

For more information about your eyes and what you can do to keep them healthy visit and call 403.286.4884 to book your appointment at Market Mall Optometry.

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