Reading in bed is dangerous, warns Lancet
Baku, October 20 (AZERTAC). The “Lancet” returns to its warnings against reading in bed. Dr. Hugo Feilchenfeld, of Berlin, has recently published the results of an investigation into the effects of the practice, and he finds that the chief danger is to the eyes, for the familiar reasons, first, that it is difficult to arrange the lighting so that it is sufficient and yet does not fall directly on the eyes, and, secondly, that it is difficult to hold the book in an optically correct position.
There is certainly a tendency to trust to a distant light, the position of which is rarely suitable for a person lying on one side. Then the reader, intent on his book and careless of his eyesight, will continue reading with one eye fixed on the book and the other buried in the pillow; that is the commonest mistake of all.
These things tend to produce short sight and to aggravate it where it exists. Young people, therefore, whose eyes are not yet set hard, as in adult life, should avoid reading in bed if they can, and the “Lancet” deprecates it in all. Probably most bed-readers will continue to indulge the vice, whether its object is to weary the resistance of the wakeful mind by severely exercising its attention, or to pass pleasantly into the extinction of slumber – which many people instinctively shrink from – amid the diversions of an imaginary world.
These hardened sinners should make careful arrangements for the indulgence. It is not really difficult or expensive to fix a light candle, gas, or electric lamp, of sufficient brilliancy, well above the head and behind it. To keep both eyes on the book (a practical hint not given in the “Lancet”), rest the head at the end of a hard pillow, and, as it were, look from the edge of it clear of the page. Perhaps some day publishers will issue bed-books – not the kind of books one ought to read in bed; one can only choose those oneself – but books suitable in typography and binding.
The ideal bed-book must open quite flat; it must have stiff covers to prevent the page from bending, and small pages for the same reason; it must be of very light paper so as not to fatigue the hand; the type must be large; the margin must be very wide, especially on the outer sides, on one or other of which the book rests according to the side one lies on. Perhaps most of these requirements are not undesirable in a book for daylight reading.