What Are the Best Lights for Reading?

Updated July 19, 2017

Reading in poor light can cause tired eyes and headaches, as well as making it more difficult to see the words and concentrate on them. The best light will change depending on what it is being used for. Choosing the right reading light for your needs can mean the difference between a pleasant evening curled up with your favourite book or a night spent trying to alleviate a migraine.

Clip-On Reading Lights

These tiny clip-on lights attach either straight onto your book or onto the edge of a bed or shelf. The type that clips onto a book is ideal for couples, since they beam light directly onto the pages with very little reflected light to keep the non-reading partner awake. However, this direct beam can sometimes only illuminate the part of the page it is pointing at, leaving the furthest edge in darkness and meaning that it constantly needs adjusting. The slightly larger lights that clip onto furniture are perfect for people who share rooms and especially for those in bunk beds. The light casts a larger beam but it is still very directed and so less intrusive for the sleeping roommate.

Anglepoise Lamps

Anglepoise lamps are jointed so that the light beam can be directed to where it is needed. They are ideal for desk use since they cast a wide beam of bright light that is perfect for reading documents. Larger anglepoise floor lamps are great for armchair or bedtime reading as they illuminate the area in which they are directed very effectively, without affecting the light levels in the rest of the room too much.

Overhead Lighting

Overhead lighting can be a very effective form of reading light. However, most overhead lighting, except in kitchens and bathrooms, is not bright enough for comfortable reading. There is no generally accepted watt value ideal for reading by, but the light should be bright enough to easily illuminate the words on the page. Conversely, lights that are too bright create glare and can actually make reading just as difficult as lights that are too dim.

Computer and Television Screens

While the idea that reading from a computer or television screen will damage your eyes is a myth, solely using the ambient light that issues from the screen can make you more liable to eye strain and headaches. To prevent this, it is a good idea to use a second light source, such as a reading light, in conjunction with the screen. Taking regular breaks will also help to prevent or at least delay the onset of eye strain..

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About the Author

Sophie Batin began writing professionally online in 2010 and enjoys the opportunity to write about a variety of intriguing subjects. She graduated from the University of Leeds with an honors degree in biology and several electives in creative writing, poetry and philosophy.