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Reading in Dim Light


WebMD the Magazine - Feature

Q: My daughter loves to read by a dim light at night. Isn’t it true that this could damage her eyes?

A: Conventional wisdom claims that reading in the dark wrecks the eyes. But children everywhere who love to read at night under the covers can rejoice, because this myth is FALSE.

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Your Eyes and Iritis

The iris is a circular, pigmented membrane that provides the eye its color and the opening in the center is the pupil of the eye. The iris is made up of muscular fibers that control the amount of light entering the pupil so that you can see clearly. The iris accomplishes this task by making the pupil smaller in bright light and larger in dim light. In some people, the iris can become inflamed. This is termed iritis.

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Dim light might make it difficult for the eyes to focus, which can cause short-term eye fatigue, says Richard Gans, MD, FACS, an ophthalmologist with the Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute. "But there is no scientific evidence that reading in the dark does any long-term harm to your eyes," Gans says.

Challenging visual work, such as reading in insufficient light, can also lead to short-term drying of eyes because you blink less often, Gans adds. Again, this is uncomfortable, but it doesn’t damage the structure or function of the eyes. You can use over-the-counter lubricating drops if dry eyes are a problem.

On the off chance that your next question is going to be, "What about sitting too close to the TV?" we have the same answer. Getting too close to the set for your favorite shows won’t harm your eyes -- "either from overfocusing or from radiation," Gans says.

 

 

 

Reviewed on May 01, 2008

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