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What are Reading Lamps?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Reading lamps are lamps which have been designed specifically for reading, to make reading easier and more comfortable while reducing eye strain. These lamps can also be used more generally for task lighting at a desk or workbench, since the same traits needed in a task light are present in a reading lamp. Many home supply and lighting stores carry reading lamps, along with lighting products which can be used for reading.

When people read, they are best served by bright, indirect light with minimal glare. Many reading lamps are designed with flexible necks so that the lamp can be adjusted to achieve the perfect angle, casting the reading area into bright light without creating shadows or causing glare. Reading lights also tend to have shades which direct and focus the light into a small zone which will be brightly lit for reading.

In addition to using a reading lamp, it is also a good idea to have other lights on in the room as well. A room with a great deal of contrast will strain the eyes every time the reader looks up, as the eyes will try to adjust to the difference. It is better to have a medium light level throughout the room, and a high light level around the reading area. Reading lamps must also be positioned carefully to ensure that they do not reflect from objects like mirrors, pictures, and highly-polished furniture in the room.

There are a number of different styles of reading lamps. Some people like to use book lights which clip directly onto a book or a book tray. These lights are typically battery powered, and they are often marketed to people who do not want to disturb others while they are reading. However, the low light level of such reading lights can be a problem, especially for older readers. Other reading lamps are meant to be placed or mounted on a table or nightstand, and it is also possible to find reading floor lamps.

When positioning reading lamps, people should sit in the area where they will be reading with a book and maneuver the light until it casts a bright, even light across the book. To check for glare, a mirror can be placed on the book to see if any bright reflected light hits the eyes. If glare is present, the light should be adjusted, as glare can strain the eyes over a prolonged period of reading. In a household with multiple readers, the settings for reading lamps may be slightly different, and it can be a good idea for people to adopt specific places to read, such as a particular reading chair, so that lamps can be adjusted once and then left alone.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon357664 — On Dec 05, 2013

Where can I buy a reading floor lamp that is battery operated?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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