Reading in the dark won’t damage your eyes. That is, it won’t affect your vision permanently. And if you’ve heard that reading in dim light can cause nearsightedness—well, that’s not true, either.
But does reading in the dark hurt your eyes temporarily? Yes, it can—reading in the dark or in dim light can cause eye strain. And this can sometimes “hurt,” meaning it can cause soreness or other uncomfortable symptoms. Eye strain can also affect your sight while you’re experiencing it.
Fortunately, eye strain is temporary and won’t injure your eyes in any lasting way. (If you like to read under the covers late at night, go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief.)
We’re here to shed some light on how reading in the dark can affect your eyes. Read on for some helpful tips on how to avoid eye strain from late-night reading.
How Reading in the Dark Can Cause Eye Strain
Even if you consider yourself a night owl, you’re still only human—you don’t have the sharp night vision that owls have. For human eyes, reading in low light is hard work. And like other parts of our body, our eyes get tired if they work hard. This eye fatigue is also known as eye strain.
If you have eye strain, you might get a feeling of heavy, overworked eyes. Other common symptoms of eye strain are headaches, irritated eyes, shoulder or neck pain, blurry vision, and double vision.
Here are some reasons low light can strain your eyes:
- In low light, it’s harder for your eyes to focus.
- As we age, our vision naturally declines, sometimes more noticeably in low light. This is a condition called presbyopia.
- Nearsightedness and astigmatism could make reading in dim lighting more challenging.
- Other untreated eye conditions could aggravate eye strain.
- People may blink less when the lighting is dim. This can lead to dry eye syndrome and eye strain.