Will Reading In Dim Light Hurt My Child's Eyes?

Dr. Jim Martin 08/31/2016

girl-reading-at-night.pngA human being's eyes are particularly sensitive until he reaches 18 years of age. Once he reaches this age, his eyes are fully grown and much less likely to change. Ample reading light will help prevent damage in these delicate years. Though kids can certainly read under dim light, they will be at a heightened risk for eye strain.

Eye Strain In Children

Reading under a dim light forces the eyes to work hard. Though your child might have 20/20 vision at his young age, he is sabotaging his eyesight by reading beneath a weak light. If he reads long enough under dim light, his eyes might become strained.

The science behind the perils of reading in low light are as follows. When reading beneath a dim light, the visual muscles receive conflicting signals. They relax in order to gather ample light and contract to allow for a sharply focused image. However, dim light makes focusing extremely challenging as there is a lack of contrast between the printed words and the surrounding page. As a result, the eye struggles to discern visual details. The eye is forced to work hard to decipher the words from the page, causing a strain of the eye muscles.

Mind The Lighting

Though overhead lighting is excellent for general illumination, it is not ideal for reading. Rather, task lighting is necessary to brighten the space where children read. However, this does not mean that general illumination should be removed from the reading space. General illumination is also necessary as the eyes will eventually tire if there is a strong contrast between a room's dark background and the task light. This contrast can be avoided by providing both types of light in a reading space.

A Medical Myth?

Some people argue that the dangers of reading in dim lights are a medical myth. Study results printed in a 2007 edition of the British medical Journal indicated that reading beneath low light does not damage eyes. However, the study also found that reading beneath weak light does cause eye strain.

If you are concerned with the health of your eyes or your child's eyes, be proactive by reaching out to Broome Optical. We can educate you about the nuances of eye health and fit you or your child with a new pair of contact lenses/glasses.

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