The Relationship Between Vision and Reading

Most of us understand the concept of vision clarity or visual acuity. It is intuitive that one needs sharp vision to see small print. What can be confusing is the concept that a bright individual, blessed with clear vision better than 20/20, can have difficulty with reading. Symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty in keeping print clear after several minutes of reading
  • Fatiguing quickly when reading (students may show signs of frustration)
  • Print moving around and sometimes appearing to “float” or even going double
  • Losing your place or skipping words
  • Headaches associated with reading activities
  • Poor reading comprehension – needing to read and re-read until it finally “sticks”’
  • Loss of interest in reading – “Reading is boring!”

The physical act of reading includes a complex association of accommodation (focusing), convergence (turning the eyes inward to lock in on a near target such as print), and tracking (following a string of words within a sentence). These skills work separately and together. An initial examination will determine a patient’s eye health and refractive error (i.e. glasses prescription).

It is often the case that reading difficulties are due entirely to changes in eye health and/or prescription. If the reading issues cannot be explained by these changes, then we will make a special appointment to measure and address the individual reading skills. After the assessments of eye health and reading skills, we will make treatment recommendations. Students living with reading and near-point difficulties are at risk of not performing to potential and developing avoidance behaviors.