How to avoid eye strain when reading

Why proper light is important while reading

We’ve all heard (perhaps even from our parents) that reading in dim light will damage our eyesight. Telling children this may be an effective way for parents to get their children to do what they should. Of course, the idea that low light damages your eyes isn’t, strictly speaking, true. As with most things, the reality is much more complex.

At Dr. Bishop & Associates, we offer vision care at our eye clinics in Calgary. Beyond a simple eye exam, however, we also like to be sure that our patients are protecting their eyesight, even when they’re not with the optometrist. That’s why we like to give helpful tips to the whole Calgary community about how they can do the things they love while keeping their eyes healthy.

We should point out that there’s nothing about reading in low light that is inherently harmful to your vision. Sorry for spoiling your tactic, parents. At the same time, reading in low light for extended periods can lead to eye strain, which can have an effect on your vision. Long reading sessions, binge-watching a television show, and staring at a computer screen at work are all examples of what researchers call “close work,” where your attention (and therefore eyes) are fixed on a relatively immobile object for long periods of time. As with any other part of the body, if your eyes are doing the same thing for a long time, they’re bound to get fatigued; which can lead to wear and tear on the mechanics of your vision.

How can I protect my eyes while reading?

Fortunately, there are many ways to do the things you love while protecting your eyesight. Just a few include:

    • Keeping sufficient, even light trained on the object you’re looking at. If you’re eyes are constantly having to expand and contract their pupils to account for different levels of light, the action may strain your eyes. A sufficiently bright desk lamp with an opaque shade to focus the light on your book rather than in your eyes is perfect for the job.
    • Taking a few minutes break at least once an hour. Focusing on something else at a different distance from your eyes for a while will relax your eye muscles.
    • Making sure your eyes don’t dry out. Whenever we are focused on intense visual tasks, such as reading, tablets etc. our blink rate decreases by about two thirds, resulting in significantly drier eyes.Dry eyes can’t refresh themselves with essential liquids and mucus your eye needs to do its job. Artificial tears as well as taking a break from whatever you’re doing can help relieve the irritation. Here are some tips if you struggle with dry eyes in the winter.
    • Avoiding any draughts of cold air. Cold air is another easy way to dry your eyes out. Avoid sitting directly under vents or air conditioning units.

If you’d like to know more about vision care from a trained optometrist, contact us at the eye clinic of Dr. Bishop & Associates. We can offer you an eye exam or a more extensive consultation. We’ll do whatever we can to give you the tools to keep your eyes healthy.

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