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Sharp Health News

Does reading in the dark really hurt your eyes?

Aug. 2, 2018

Does reading in the dark really hurt your eyes?

Don’t read in the dark; you’ll hurt your eyes!

Avid childhood readers may remember this parental admonition. You wondered then and you wonder now: Does reading in the dark really hurt your eyes?

“Mom was mostly right on this one,” says Jim Ostermann, an optician with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Centers.

While reading in low light won’t cause lasting damage to your vision, it can cause eyestrain. Just like any muscle in the body, the eyes can get weak if overworked. Challenging visual work, like reading in dim light, causes the eyes to become tired faster.

“Tired eyes can lead to headaches, itchy eyes, blurred vision and light sensitivity,” says Ostermann. “So Mom, thanks for the warning.”

According to Ostermann, the best light for reading is natural light. “Position your desk or reading location near a window during the day, if possible. Not only is this lighting the best for your eyes, but the natural sunshine will also help boost your mood. You shouldn’t have to worry about the UV rays from the sunlight, since most office buildings and homes have UV-resistant glass installed,” he says.

Investing in specialized glasses is another way to protect your eyes. UV-protecting sunglasses are a must for when you are outside, whether or not you are reading. There are specialized lenses and coatings you can purchase that block UV and blue light rays for both inside and outside use.

The need for good lighting increases as we get older. Just like the rest of our body, our eyes often don’t work quite as well with age. Stronger lighting and good prescription eyeglasses will optimize your reading experience. Ostermann also recommends replacing fluorescent light bulbs with LED bulbs, which can save money, energy and protect your eyes. He also recommends regular eye exams.

“Just like seeing your primary care doctor, having your eyes examined at the intervals your eye doctor recommends is essential in maintaining your eyesight and eye health,” he says.

Sharp Rees-Stealy offers a range of optical services at eight convenient locations around San Diego — from comprehensive eye examinations to eyewear and contact lens service.

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