Reading in Dim Light

Submitted by GemStateEyes on Tue, 07/19/2022 - 15:28
woman holding coffee and reading by a window

Have you ever found yourself reading in a dimly lit room? Or, have you realized that it’s harder to read in poorly lit conditions? Maybe you thought it might damage your eyes or cause short-sightedness. The good news is that it will not damage your eyes, but reading in poorly lit conditions can put a strain on your system. Therefore, you will want to give yourself enough eye care with helpful tools and self-care techniques.

Eye Strain and Symptoms

When reading in dim light, your eyes have to focus harder which can cause eye strain. Your pupils will naturally dilate in order to take in more light, which goes through the lens onto your retina.

The cells in your retina, also known as rods and cones, will use this light to send information to the brain about how much you can see in the dim light. Either way, when you switch the light on or off, your pupils will adjust to the lighting conditions in the room. In the case of reading in dim light, your eyes adjust accordingly, but it may come with some side effects.

Here are some symptoms of eye strain:

  • Eye fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Sensitivity to light

Eye Care Solutions

Here are some solutions and tools you can use to take care of your eyes.

Turn the light on.

If you are straining your eyes too much in the dim light, reach for the lamp and turn it on to instantly give your eyes a rest. You also may want to experiment with reading outside in the daylight. The natural light can help you focus as well as give you a better depth of field.

Give your eyes a break.

If you are staring at a computer screen or reading a book in the dim light, practice giving your eyes a break every 20 minutes by looking off into the distance for about 20 seconds. You can also get up from your desk once an hour and do an activity that isn’t at your desk.

Do eye exercises.

When taking a break, you could also massage the muscles around your eyes. You can try some exercises like moving your eyes up and down and side to side to increase flexibility.

Use eye drops.

When you’re reading in dim light and trying to focus, you may not blink as often as you should. This could cause dry eyes. You should find some over-the-counter lubricating eye drops as a remedy.

Use blue light glasses.

Blue light glasses are a common solution when staring at computer screens all day, or when you have sensitivity to light. Blue light, or the high-energy visible light (HEV), from electronic devices can pass through the eye to the retina, and it can create some of the same side effects when reading in dim light, such as eye fatigue and blurred vision. Therefore, a pair of blue light glasses can protect your eyes long-term whether you’re reading a screen in dim light or bright light.


If you have experienced some of these symptoms from reading in dim light, the solutions in the article can help you on a short-term basis. However, if you continue to experience blurred vision and sensitivity to light, for example, you should consult with a Gem State Eyecare physician. Contact us today to schedule your next eye exam!