Nightlight Blindness

On one of those annoying sell-mercials, some Australian guy is promoting little stick-on touch lights. (“If you order now you get 6 for the incredibly low price of $19.95!”)

One of his selling points is that nightlights in babies’ rooms cause nearsightedness. Is that true?

Anything you learn from an annoying sell-mercials is always true. The more annoying the truer it is. Honest.

But if there is any connection between nearsightedness and baby’s night light it probably is that nearsighted (hereditary) parents are more likely to use nightlights for their children.

Is that true? Yep.

There was a study a few months ago that made the wire services that showed a link between night lights in babies’ rooms and nearsightedness later in life. It seemed kind of shaky to me but I’m sure there will be other studies on it.

“Hope is not a method”

The current concensus in the medical profession seems to be that nearsightedness is genetic. If the kid is born predisposed to it, s/he’ll find an “excuse” for triggering it, otherwise s/he won’t.

I do recall some studies showing that kids used to sleeping with the light on (regular bright light, not nightlight) were on the average measurably more tired and sleepy than the ones who slept in the dark.

I recall the study DoctorDec mentioned and IIRC, the study described a very small effect in highly variable circumstances. And, as the good doctor pointed out, no single study is ever a good basis for drawing solid conclusions.

It wasn’t so much a case of junk science as the news media blowing things way out of proportion. But their job is to sell “news” so why let the truth get in the way of some good old-fashioned sensationalism and fear-mongering.

And of course advertisers, being the only form of life with lower standards than the media, jumped all over it.

“If ignorance were corn flakes, you’d be General Mills.”
Cecil Adams
The Straight Dope

This might be a good one for the Cecilmeister.

I figured it was way down on the list of indicators, but I can’t even think of a mechanism to cause it! Does the kid stare at the light all night?

IIRC, the effect was surprisingly large. With a nightlight, there was something like a 30 percent greater chance of nearsightedness compared with sleeping in a dark room. With the light on overnight, it was even worse.

I think they were looking at the effects later in life due to the amunt of nighttime light in the first 2 or 3 years.

It is too clear, and so it is hard to see.