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Does Reading Harm Your Eyes? A Closer Look

Does reading harm your eyes?

Does reading harm your eyes?

Bookworms and students alike have often be warned by parents, teachers, and various sources to, “Be careful- reading too much can harm your eyes!”  Does excessive reading harm your eyes and where does that warning come from?  For anyone in the academic world or to the lover of the world of books we’re going to have a look at those claims.   And the results may surprise you!

The Dry Spell

If you’ve ever spent hours pouring over a new book or studying material for an upcoming test you’ve probably experienced the following.  You look up from your book and begin blinking or rubbing your eyes.  Why?  Because they’re itchy, scratchy and uncomfortable.  This is no reason to be alarmed since your eyes typically dry out while you’re reading.  This happens because you tend to blink less while reading causing your eyes to dry out.  Dry eyes are nothing to be alarmed by as you can easily pick up an over the counter eye drop to help soothe occasional dry eyes.  If the problem persists and carries over beyond reading it’s advised that you consult with your doctor.

Too Tired

While dry eyes are a typical result of reading in excess another common side effect is a little harder to diagnose.  Have you ever set your book down because you couldn’t seem to focus on another word?  Has this been accompanied by a dull headache?  Chances are your eyes are too tired or are experiencing fatigue.  If you’ve ever begun a new physical activity like hiking, biking or swimming you’ve likely experienced fatigue in your muscles including soreness.  Just like other muscles, tendons and ligaments your eyes can become fatigued after too much work.  This typically can be remedied by rest.  For more on eye fatigue, reading in dim light have a look at what Richard Gans, MD, FACS, an ophthalmologist with the Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute had to say in this article about reading in dim light.

Does Reading Harm Your Eyes? Read On, Book Lovers!

Bookworms and students can read in peace knowing that reading doesn’t harm your eyes.  The myth that it does is just that, a myth.  And the symptoms that are commonly claimed to be harming your eyes, like dryness and fatigue, can typically be remedied with no long term effects.  Just remember to keep your eyes well lubricated and give your eyes a break if you feel fatigue coming on.  Happy reading!