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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Can reading in the dark cause vision loss?

    Growing up, my mother always advised me to make sure I had adequate reading light and that the text was not too small. Is it true that reading in dim light could lead to vision loss?
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  • Retina Australia (Queensland) provides peer support, information, awareness and advocacy to people with degenerating sight due to a retinal eye disease. Some examples of retinal … View Profile

    Reading in the dark, especially during childhood, has been shown to be linked with the development of myopia (short-sightedness).  Also, headaches and eye ache can occur.

    Whenever reading or performing any sort of concentrated near visual task e.g. sewing, computing, there are a few points of good ‘visual hygiene’ to adopt.  Firstly, ensure you have good background lighting ie daylight from a window or overhead room lighting.  Secondly, good localised lighting directed at the print or task you are performing, especially at night ie over the shoulder lamp or desk lamp.  In doing this, try to minimise glare as much as possible.  Ensure the distance of the print or visual task is no closer than about 40cm (16 inches) from your eyes.  Lastly, take regular rest breaks (e.g. 5minutes break for every hour of concentration).  During the rest break allow your eyes to relax and focus on a more distant scene (e.g. looking out the window across the street).

    This is the advice from Retina Australia based on broadly available research. Every case of retinitis pigmentosa is individual and it is always recommended to seek the advice of your optometrist and / or ophthalmologist.

    For further information, or to contact Retina Australia (Qld) go to the website at or the national organisation at

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