Best Reading Light for Eyes; 27 Questions

This is a comprehensive guide on selecting the reading light that is best for you for reading in bed.The way this article is structured is that I will answer the common concerns related to this question: “How to get the Best Reading Light for Eyes?”.

I have divided the questions into three main things affect the reading experience. These, in order of importance, are as follows. 

  1. Brightness of the light
  2. Color of the light
  3. Type of light bulb

How to get the Best Reading Light for Eyes?

Brightness of the light

Brightness is indicated by lumens. More lumens = Brighter Light

What is the best reading light for eyes? Which light is better for studying?

More than the color, the watts, or the type of bulb, what matters most is the amount of light that is lighting the page. If you have a page that is brightly lit up that your eyes can easily read through them, then this is a good light.

The best light is the one which lights up the page evenly and with enough brightness that your eyes does not strain due to low light. Plus, It should be dimmable.

Brighter starker light

If you worry too much about the color of the light, but the light is not enough and your eyes have to struggle to read then you are unnecessarily straining your eyes which is harmful in the long term, the first thing that you should make sure while getting a book reading light is that the light is bright enough for you to read.

Mostly, lights that are available in the market produces enough light to light up the pages, but the problem arises when the light is too much that it is leaking out of the desired area and disturbing your partner who might be sleeping beside you, or the light creates some hot-spots which are discussed in the next heading.

Evenly distributed light, without any glare

The light should also be projected softly onto the paper so that it does not create any hotspot or glare that are poking into your eyes. This also causes stress when reading for longer sessions or even the shorter ones.

This problem can easily be avoided by choosing a light that has a soft filter on it. That will disperse light evenly on the page.

Dimmable Light

The light should also be adjustable so that you can adjust the brightness on the spot. Usually, the lights that are built for reading have enough brightness to read but sometimes when you are feeling sleepy you may want to dim the light a bit. This is when this function will come handy.

Moreover, you might need a different amount of light than the standard, so there must be some room to play with. Whenever you are buying book reading light considered the one which has the ability to increase or decrease the brightness.

How many lumens do you need for reading at night?

There is a standard of 20 lumens per square feet. This standard is used to measure how much light is needed to properly light up the room.

For example, if you have a 250 square feet room you need 250 x 20 = 5000 lumens.

But in our case we just need to light one book which is around 1 square feet, so we will need a light which mentions 20 lumens on it.

But keep in mind that this is just a commercially used standard and your individual needs might vary. Even if, you are comfortable with one light, you might need to change the brightness some other time.

So…

A light with 40 lumens with the ability to dim the light is the best choice for reading.

Lumens VS Watts?

Watts is a measure of how much power a bulb needs to run? More Watts would simply mean a brighter light. So, Watts is also used to measure the brightness of the lights. But that was used back in the past when the incandescent bulbs were the main thing. So, you’d have like 40 watt, 60 watts, or 100-watt bulbs.

But now the same brightness can be achieved by fairly low watts. Here is a chart for you:

Brightness in lumens chart
Source: Brightness in Lumens chart by Thelightbulb.co.uk

Which means that if you want the brightness equivalent to a 100-watt Standard incandescent bulb, you need to get an 18 watt LED. Each of them will have a brightness of more than 1300 lumens.

So, you should be thinking in terms of Lumens whenever buying a new light for reading or any other purpose.

Color of the light

This is the Second most important factor after brightness, whenever you are buying a book reading light.

What is Color Temperature?

The color temperature of the light indicates the warmth in the light. The lower range of color temperature would have more red light making it warmer. The higher color temperature will have more Blue light making it look cooler.

How color temperature affects you?

Color temperature has an effect on our sleep cycles. Here is why?

Our body clock determines when we feel sleepy or active. And the light has a direct impact on our body clock. When at daytime a lot of blue light hits our eyes, it gives our brain a signal that it’s daytime, and we need to wake up.

There is a hormone called Melatonin which controls whether we feel sleepy or alert. More melatonin is generated when there is less light, specifically less blue light. Red light has comparatively less impact on production of this hormone. It is our body’s way of knowing when to sleep and when to be attentive. Doesn’t it sound so natural? Definitely.

To put it shortly:

Blue light is good in Daylight.

&

Red colored light is good in the nighttime as it helps you sleep.

Which color is easier on eyes at night?

Due to the same reason explained earlier, Red color is easier on eyes as compared to Blue. More details can be read here.

What is the best color temperature for reading?

It depends on which time of the day you’re reading. If you are reading at night, then a warm color light is preferred. But in daytime cool white or daylight color light is good for you.

There is a range of color temperature

Source: http://www.westinghouselighting.com/color-temperature.aspx

What is the 6500K bulb?

It is a bulb that produces light which is of color when the sun shines at noon. This is the time when there is the most amount of blue light. This type of light makes you feel alert and active. You should use this light three to 4 hours before sleeping.

What is Under 4000K light?

It is a light that has a Kelvin temperature of 4000, 3000, or even lesser than that. This light color mimics the sunset which tells your body to go to sleep. So, in evenings, try to use this color of light to get a good night sleep.

Lower the color temperature the warmer the light will be.

If you are reading at night, then you should select the light with the color temperature from 1850 to 3000k

And if you slightly move forward on the Kelvin scale you will have

Ecologic mart eye care warm book light.

This light has a color temperature of 3000K

Then there is a light which has a color temperature in the range 2800K-7000K

It is Atmoko Rechargeable Reading Lamp

Then there are daylight white lights with the color temperature of more than 5000K. For example Might Bright rechargeable light

Is yellow light good for reading?

Yes, if you are reading at night. Yellowish warmer light has more Red and less Blue light that is why it does not disturb your cardiac rhythm and helps you get more deep sleep.

But if you are reading at daytime, then the yellow color is not a necessity, you just need to have a good light that lights up the page evenly. But at night it suppresses your melatonin production which in turn result in lower quality sleep.

What is the best color light to sleep with?

The best choice is complete darkness… But if you must read, then the best light is the one with warmer color tone, that is Under 4000K.

Type of light bulbs

What type of bulb should you use? Are LEDs really good? Are there any Disadvantages of using them?

There are three types of bulbs that are usually available in the market, that is, halogen or incandescent, CFL and LED. But LEDs are the best choice as they are efficient and safer than any other.

What are the advantages of LEDs? Are there any Disadvantages of using them?

To put it simply… there are virtually no disadvantages of LEDs. These are the most advanced high-efficiency lights, that do not get hot (compared to other types) and they are rugged as well.

How safe are LED lights?

First I thought that LED lights are so safe that this question seems a bit irrelevant. But no one can stop a question from being asked. Anyway, after doing some research I got to know that

The short answer to this question is: LEDs are safe, but blue light is not.

Most of the LEDs emit a shorter wavelength of light, which is bluish. Research shows if our eyes are exposed to this colored light for a longer period, it may have a bad effect on our eyes.

But this was a problem when the LEDs available in the market has only blue light spectrum. That is above 5000k. But now with the awareness among the consumers, market leaders like Philips have a Range of LEDs is available with lesser blue light, or even the warmer 3000K Light which solves the problem.

Whenever there’s an invention, there is always going to be some critics which eventually help make the product better by identifying the weak points. Like, CFL was also an energy efficient bulb, but they were criticized for having mercury and emitting ultraviolet light. Same happened with the LEDs. But now, with the awareness, a demand for warmer colored light is there. So, you can easily buy a warmer color light.

Get a light on lower Kelvin scale; you can buy one below 5000K, and even below 4000K which would be an even better choice.

What is the safest type of light bulb?

There are myths about Energy efficient light bulbs, especially CFLs, that they have mercury in them, they do not light up properly in extremely cold temperature, they are not dimmable, and they emit ultraviolet radiations.

Let’s not talk about the CFLs anyway, because, in this advanced era, LED is the way to go. LED is free of these concerns whether they are myths or even facts.

LEDs are the safest most energy efficient type of lights available today.

Can LED light give you cancer?

(Haha. This is the where I started to think about this question. Because, I think, concrete reasons for cancer are still unknown, so people, out of fear, draw conclusions very quickly. Every other thing is responsible for cancer. One research comes with a positive answer and the other research slams that down. But anyways, my thinking does not change the reality, so let us see what the latest research has to say? Because the cancer is no joke, and we should know the best and latest knowledge in this case)

According to an eye care research conducted under the supervision of Dr. Celia Sánchez-Ramos, there are bad effects of a large amount of blue light for long periods of time. Here are the other researches on vision, done by the same doctor.

Another research done by Richard G. Stevens who has been studying effects of artificial lighting on human physiology for more than three decades has concluded that exposure to blue light before sleeping suppresses melatonin production, a necessary hormone for the human body. Its reduction reduces the quality of sleep. This increases the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, decreased immunity, and even in some cases, cancer, especially breast cancer (although, the link is not proven).

Zoltan Koltai, EMEA Technology Director, GE Lighting clears some myths about the relation between blue light and cancer in this latest GE blog entry. He, basically, emphasis that same point that we are saying. Blue lights in the evening, or before sleep is not good. But in any way, it is NOT been proved that it causes cancer. LED being a new technology has become an easy target for criticism due to the hype and at the same time the lack of understanding.

The same point is being emphasized in this Harvard study: Keep yourself away from the blue light in the evening. If you subject yourself to blue light for 6.5 hours, it will keep you awake for 3 more hours, even after you have turned off the lights completely.

Do LED Light cause blindness?

Not really the blindness, but long exposure to short wavelengths of lights, like blue light, does do irreparable damage to your eyes.

It depends on two things:

  • The total amount of light your eyes have to absorb, that is, How intense the light was? And how long your eyes are placed in front of that?
  • The color of light. Blue light (shorter in wavelength) does more damage than the longer wavelengths of light spectrum, like Red light.

To prevent any harm you should:

Get warm colored light if you plan to use three to four hours before sleeping, Or you can simply use a blue light filter on your existing LEDs. This would be a cheaper and an instant solution, and when you are ready to replace those Daylight white LEDs, get the one with warmer color tone.

Are LED lights harmful to your skin?

This question is usually asked in the context of manicure or pedicure where UV lights are used to quickly dry the skin. They are called nail lamps. These lamps produce UVA rays, on which Skin Cancer foundation officially says that these are in the bearable range. And bearable in this case means far lower to cause any adverse effect. Again, these are nail lamps and the effect is extremely minute to be considered as dangerous.

But the LED lights in your room, and book reading lights we are talking about, these lights, according to the research conducted by STONY BROOK University, do NOT harm your skin.

CFLs in comparison can cause harm to your skin, when these bulbs emit UVA and UVC radiations from the cracks in the phosphorus coating, according to another research conducted by Stony Brook New York and State University New York. CFLs are especially harmful when placed near to your skin, that is less than 25 cm, for a longer period.

Are LED bulbs are a fire Risk?

LEDs poses least or no amount of fire risk, due to the way these are made and how they produce light.

A bulb can be a fire risk due to two reasons. Explosion and overheating.

Incandescent bulbs have a vacuum in them and CFLs contain a gas. But LEDs are made of solid parts which can not cause an explosion.

Secondly, LEDs utilize the electricity very efficiently and do not dissipate a lot of heat. This makes them relatively cooler than other types of bulbs.

It does not mean that they do not get hot. They get hot but the heat that is generated is dissipated through a heat sink which is located at the base of LED. Hence, the efficient design, and the ability to dissipate heat evenly ensure that the LEDs do not overheat, avoiding any kind of fire risk.

There is an article by David Lee on LinkedIn, which discuss this matter in further detail.

Why are LEDs better than CFLs?

LEDs are safer and more cost-effective than CFL bulbs.

  1. CFL bulbs have mercury in them which is not safe to dispose of, while LEDs don’t have that.
  2. CFs pose a risk of explosion as there’s a gas filled in them. But LEDs are solid state lights and there is no such risk of explosion, plus LEDs lasts longer, saving your replacement cost.
  3. CFLs are lesser energy efficient than LEDs, as they waste a lot of electricity in terms of heat. LED efficiently utilize energy to give you the same amount of light by using less electricity. LED can save up to $30 per year which makes them highly cost-effective.
  4. CFLs emit UVA and UVC radiations which are harmful to your skin. LEDs do not harm your skin.
  5. CFLs are not dimmable, while LEDs can be dimmed to adapt to your needs. This makes them ideal for table lamps and nighttime reading lights.
  6. CFLs flicker with the fluctuation of AC frequency, while LEDs run on DC current making them run smoothly without causing any harm to your eye.

Read more:

How healthy are LED lights?

What happens if an LED light breaks?

LEDs usually do not break, as these do not explode or break by falling on the ground. But if you intentionally exert a large amount of force, they may break.

And when they break, a care should be taken to dispose of them safely.

LEDs do not have mercury in them, but they have some other elements including lead, arsenic, Nickel, and Copper, that can be toxic in large quantities. Again, only in LARGE quantities.

Red LEDs has the most amount of Lead, while the white LEDs contain nickel.

But keep in mind that these quantities are far less than your car battery, a item that you use on daily basis.

So the point is that you should be aware of the fact that if LEDs breaks you should handle it with care and dispose of properly.

Use latex gloves and a mask, pick up all the debris with a broom, fill the waste in a sealed jar and then throw away any things that came in contact with the waste, like the bed sheet, even the broom.

Scientific American has an article on the Dark Side of LED. But if you read that article I would encourage you to read the comment section as well because that is really awesome.

SFGate also has an article that also mentions how to clean up broken LEDs.

Both of these articles mentions a research, as the bases for their articles. You can read that to get firsthand knowledge.

After all that, I have concluded, LED mostly do not break. And the toxic metals in there are in glass of LED, so treat it just like a glass waste. The information here is not to create a fear, but to give awareness about the latest research on this topic. LEDs are not a new killer 🙂

Do LED light bulbs get hot?

LED do get hot, but it is nowhere near the hotness of CFLs and Incandescent bulbs. It is because they use energy very efficiently. They light up the room brightly without wasting a lot of electricity into heat energy. Even though these lights still get a bit warm to touch, but the heat is safely dispersed into the environment using a heat sink, that is usually placed in the back of LEDs.

Do LED lights disrupt sleep?

LEDs do not disrupt sleep. It is the Blue and the Green color of the light that has some effect on the sleep quality. Red is observed to have the least amount of impact on sleep quality.

The shorter wavelength of light like blue light, suppress the production of a hormone called Melatonin, which is responsible for our sleep. In other words, a person who is subjected to blue light before sleeping will shift his cardiac rhythm 3 to 4 hours. That means, he will feel sleepy 3 to 4 hours after the normal time he goes to sleep. Plus, he will not get stage 4, deep sleep which is crucial for a healthy body.

When are LEDs bad?

This is a right question as compared to “ Are LEDs bad?”

Because objectively, LEDs are better than any other type of bulbs available in the market. But, if you are not using them correctly, they might harm you.

  1. When LEDs are directly glaring at your eyes.

Our eyes are comfortable to see in the reflected light. But when there is a light glaring directly into your eyes, it will cause harm to your eyes. So, you should use a light that projects a soft even light onto the book, so that there are no glares while you’re reading.

  1. When you subject yourself to blue light LED, before sleeping.

If you are reading before sleeping then choose the lights that are yellowish warm, as this color has longer wavelengths and lesser energy, so it does not affect your sleep cycles.

  1. When the brightness is too high.

You can see the sky but you cannot see the sun directly. It is not natural and it may damage your eyes. Avoid the light that is very high in brightness. Excessive light put stress on the retina and may also cause a headache.

  1. When the brightness is too dim.

In low light conditions, it is difficult to read and focus which causes stress; Avoid that as well.

Conclusion

The best book light you can use to read at night is the one that is bright enough so that your book is evenly lit up, without causing any glare. But it should not be too bright to cause unnecessary stress to your eyes.

It is recommended to use a warm color light in the evening and before going to sleep.

So, to read in bed, you should get a book light which is warmer and is dimmable so that you can decrease the brightness as you feel sleepy.

You should get the light with an LED bulb in it, as it is the most energy efficient, cost effective and safest lighting solution available on the market right now. Small LEDs are capable to produce enough light to lit up your book, which makes LED book lights highly portable and easy to carry.

Thank you for reading this guide, If you have any further questions or suggestions then feel free to ask them in the comment section.

Stay tuned for more helpful articles like this to make your reading better and easier.