For years mothers have told their children not to read in the dark because it will ruin their eyes. Were our mothers right when they told us this? Do people wear glasses because they read in the dark too much? Does this claim contain any truth?

The ability to see well is called resolution. Resolution is the ability of an optical system, such as our eye, to detect detail. The resolution of our eyes depends on the amount of light. The more light the better the ability of our eye to resolve fine detail. So it is true that we do not see as well in the dark.

Low light conditions make it more difficult to read in the dark because our ability to see fine detail is diminished. Difficulty reading will cause eye fatigue or eyestrain but this is only a temporary discomfort. However, while it is more difficult to read in the dark, reading in the dark will not damage the eye in any way. You should still listen to your mother though.

Conclusion: Myth Busted

Do you have an eye question you have always wondered the answer to? Have you ever heard someone say something about eyes and wanted to know if it was true? Then email the Eye Mythbusters, Dr. Patty and Dr. Benfield at to find out the answer. A new myth will be examined every month.

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