OPHTHALMIC SURGEON
Specialist in Glaucoma, Cataract, Pediatrics

Discover the link between reading and vision

Nowadays, our eyes are constantly solicited by screens, with unlimited access to texts and numerous messages. You must be wondering: how can I protect my eyes, those of my children and my parents? Discover the link between reading and vision, learn more about how your eyesight works. But above all: what are the signs that should alert you, for you and your loved ones, to ensure good visual acuity when reading!

reading and vision
Reading and vision

Reading and vision: understanding the basics of oculomotor function

Reading is an activity that will stimulate the oculomotor function. It depends on the visual perception of your eyeball.

The information captured by your eyes is directed to the retina. But the latter does not have an identical capacity of discriminiation in all its parts.

The retina is thus composed of a zone of foveal vision:

  • a less efficient peripheral zone ;
  • a central area with strong discriminatory power.

When you read a text, the link between reading and vision is made thanks to your eye which will move along the lines. The phenomena of pursuit, fixation and saccade are then realized. What are these three eye movements? We invite you to read our article already available!

To better understand the relationship between reading and vision, we will be more precise. There are two main families of saccades:

  • Saccades of progression (from left to right);
  • Saccades of regression (from right to left, return to line, etc.).

To go deeper into the subject of reading and vision: how does the eye process information?

The light rays present in the environment are captured by the eye. They allow the various components of the eye to launch the mechanism of perception of the light in the context of a link between reading and vision.

  • The pupil adapts according to the luminous flux captured.
  • The light passes through the lens and the vitreous body.
  • The retina and the photoreceptor cells (cones and rods) are affected.
  • The whole is transformed into electrical signals sent to the brain via the optic nerve.

The photoreceptor cells mentioned above are the cones, which take care of the vision of colors, shapes and details, and the rods, for the contours and the movements.

The lens and the vitreous body must be transparent in order to correctly transmit information between reading and vision. Any opacification can make reading difficult. We mentioned ocular floaters in this article, don’t hesitate to consult it!

If, during reading, you notice an abnormality or eye fatigue, do not hesitate to consult your ophthalmologist and make an appointment.

Visual span: a key element in the link between reading and vision! 

To further explore the connection between reading and vision, do you know how many letters on average the eye can see when reading? It’s seven letters in a row! This is called the visual span: it is the maximum distance your eyes can cover when looking at a word.

How does the visual span work?

  • Words such as “from”, “one”, “the”, are read with a single fixation. The visual span is small because there are only a few contiguous letters;
  • Words like “finally”, ” definitively”, “remarkably”, require several fixations because the number of letters exceeds the maximum visual span. Here you make several fixations: two, three or more!

Making an appointment at an eye clinic is important to ensure that you have no visual defects thanks to eye exams. You will then be able to enjoy the best visual acuity and make the most of reading for as long as possible!

Reading and vision: how to take care of your eyes?

Now that you know how the eyes work in a reading and vision context, discover how to take good care of them!

If you observe, during reading on paper or on a screen, any anomaly such as :

  • have to read while squinting;
  • blurred or double vision;
  • eye fatigue;
  • headaches;
  • a veil in front of your eyes;
  • a distortion of the letters when reading (blurring) ;
  • accommodation disorders (see our article for all the symptoms).

Your cornea is to be monitored: it is exposed to light radiation, to the microenvironment and is prone to aging and pathologies such as keratoconus.

Difficulty in reading can have many ophthalmological reasons: blurred distance vision can indicate myopia, near vision can correspond to hyperopia or presbyopia with aging. If both are difficult, it may be astigmatism. So think about getting screened even if you had no previous vision problems!

Cataracts, macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma can also cause vision problems with age.

We invite you to go to your ophthalmologist for a screening to find a correction for the disorder: lenses, glasses, orthoptic sessions, surgical solution…

By making an appointment with an orthoptist, you will be oriented towards an optical correction in order to determine what can interfere with the visual field, work towards a corrected vision and reduce visual fatigue and headaches.

In conclusion, anything that might interfere with your vision while reading should be taken care of by professionals: your eye health is important!

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