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Reading in Dim Light

September 16, 2009

In this episode our new series Reality Check: Does reading in dim light ruin your eyes?


Saving your eyes. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

It’s time for another episode of our new series, Reality Check, where we investigate paranormal claims, weird phenomena and science folklore. Listener Corinna Wu’s parents used to warn her that reading in dim light would ruin her eyes, but she thinks this may have just been a ploy to get her to go to sleep. We consulted opthamologist Thomas Steinemann of Metrohealth Medical Center in Cleveland. He says muscles around the eye control the shape of the lens, bringing things into focus. In dim light, these muscles have to work harder, causing fatigue. But the effect is temporary.

THOMAS STEINEMANN (Metrohealth Medical Center):
It’s one of those things that’s been perpetuated by parents for generations, but // does not confer any damage to the eye.

So, kids, you can keep on reading under the covers. And if your favorite urban legend needs a reality check, give us a call at 1-800-why-isit. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.