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Eye Health Center

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Reading in Dim Light

WebMD 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.

Recommended Related to Eye Health

Eye Fatigue

Eye fatigue or eye strain is a common and annoying condition. The symptoms include tired, itching, and burning eyes. Eye fatigue is rarely a serious condition. Common sense precautions at home, work, and outdoors may help prevent or reduce eye fatigue. But sometimes eye fatigue is a sign of an underlying condition that may need medical treatment. If eyefatigue persists despite taking simple precautions, see your doctor. This is especially important if your eye fatigue is associated wit...

Read the Eye Fatigue article > >

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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