Parental Myths #4: Eyesight and Dim Light

Parental Myth #4 : You Will Ruin Your Eyesight By Reading in Dim Light

No. No. No. And again, I say "No."  You may ask yourself, "Why is Fletch so adamant about this seemingly harmless myth?"  Well, if you were raised in my house, you could understand my need to educate the world about adequate indoor lighting levels.  You see, I have a father, whom upon entering a room and finding the current occupant of that room performing an activity in which he judges to be "low light," would begin to flick every switch he could find in order to flood the room with enough light to warm food.  At the same time, he would quip, "Hey, let me turn some lights on, so you don't hurt your eyes."  I'm not kidding.  If available, I think my dad would have purchased stadium lights from Candlestick Park (for those who don't remember, this was the original SF 49er/Giant playing field).  For most of my childhood, I felt like a Big Mac sitting under a heat lamp whenever I attempted to study.

Maybe some of you cannot relate to this myth and maybe this is specific to my father.  He has a lighting fixation.  I don't think he needs to get counseling or anything, but almost every area of my parent's house (inside and outside) is controlled by motion sensor light switches.  He looks like a wounded seagull flapping his arms as he walks around the house trying to get the "sensor" to notice him.

And, for those of you who wish to challenge this point about light quantity and visual pathology, this month I found an actual medical source.  My neighbor, an ophthalmologist, offers the following, "...reading in low light will in no way harm your vision, but instead may cause eye strain...."

Before concluding, I am including two funny stories that will finish my discussion of "low light eye damage."  Here they are :  First, from my sis-in-law, "I was so excited to hear of your most recent myth-buster, because my dad actually had this one right and always said that reading in low light was as bad for your eyes as listening to soft music is bad for your ears."  (my comment: ...and eating bland food is bad for your tongue?).  Second, from a friend in Chico, CA who was also plagued by a father that dedicated portions of his life to illumination.  When told to turn a light on during reading...."my standard surly teenage remark was, "I don't believe Abe Lincoln went blind"  (you know the grade school story of him reading by candle light when everyone else had gone to bed)."

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Quietly making noise,