OBJECTIVE. We sought to determine under what conditions brighter lighting improves reading performance.

METHOD. Thirteen participants with typical sight and 9 participants with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) read sentences ranging from 0.0 to 1.3 logMAR under luminance levels ranging from 3.5 to 696 cd/m2.

RESULTS. At the dimmest luminance level (3.5 cd/m2), reading speeds were slowest at the smaller letter sizes and reached an asymptote for larger sizes. When luminance was increased to 30 cd/m2, reading speed increased only for the smaller letter sizes. Additional lighting did not increase reading speeds for any letter size. Similar size-related effects of luminance were observed in participants with AMD.

CONCLUSION. In some instances, performance on acuity-limited tasks might be improved by brighter lighting. However, brighter lighting does not always improve reading; the magnitude of the effect depends on the text size and the relative changes in light level.

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