To investigate the influence of nocturnal ambient light on visual function and ocular fatigue.
Sixty healthy subjects (30 males and 30 females) aged 19 through 29 years with no history of ocular disease were recruited. All subjects spent 3 consecutive nights in the sleep laboratory. During the first and second nights, the subjects were not exposed to light during sleep, but during the third night, they were exposed to ambient light, measuring 5 or 10 lux at the eye level, which was randomly allocated with 30 subjects each. The visual function and ocular fatigue were assessed at 7 a.m. on the 3rd and 4th mornings, using best-corrected visual acuity, refractive error, conjunctival hyperemia, tear break-up time, maximal blinking interval, ocular surface temperature, and subjective symptoms reported on a questionnaire.
Three male and three female subjects failed to complete the study (4 in the 5 lux; 2 from the 10 lux). For the entire 54 subjects, tear break-up time and maximal blinking interval decreased (P = 0.015; 0.010, respectively), and nasal and temporal conjunctival hyperemia increased significantly after sleep under any ambient light (P < 0.001; 0.021, respectively). Eye tiredness and soreness also increased (P = 0.004; 0.024, respectively). After sleep under 5 lux light, only nasal conjunctival hyperemia increased significantly (P = 0.008). After sleep under 10 lux light, nasal and temporal conjunctival hyperemia, eye tiredness, soreness, difficulty in focusing, and ocular discomfort increased significantly (P < 0.05).
Nocturnal ambient light exposure increases ocular fatigue. Avoiding ambient light during sleep could be recommended to prevent ocular fatigue.