Natural 20-20 Vision Book (PDF)

May 14, 2016

Read or download the complete book: Relax, Smile, and Enjoy the View — Natural Relief for Eyestrain from Computer Use and Other Activities, self-published, 1997. Copyright 1997 Monica Pawlan. All Rights Reserved.

Most of the book is also available in the postings on this blog.

See also my posting on a vision game that can help improve vision:  ULTIMEYES: A Game to Improve Vision.


Game to Improve Your Vision

May 13, 2016

A long-time interest of mine is natural methods for improving vision. For many years my focus was on the methods of Dr. Bates (see my blog Better Vision, Naturally),  and vision exercises taught by local behavioral optometrists.

While age is certainly a factor in declining vision, I know that working at a computer full time for more than 30 years often fought against me in my effort to maintain healthy habits of seeing. No matter how hard I tried to fight it, electronic devices such as my work and home laptops and phone would suck me into a body-less stare where I would lose touch with everything around me in the physical world and become an unwitting citizen of cyberspace.

Now, in a few ways I have made my computer a friend to my vision. A few years ago, I read about how a computer-based game helped the baseball team at UC Riverside improve their vision. At the time, I could purchase a copy of the game (ULTIMEYES) from Carrot Technology for under $10 for unlimited use that never expires. So I did and started to play.

It seems to be working for me. What’s even more interesting is that the way it works supports many of the healthy vision habits described in my free book, Better Vision, Naturally.


ULTIMEYES monitors your reaction time, sensitivity to contrast, and speed as you look for and click primitive shapes. Based on its findings, the game adjusts and customizes the game to your personal needs.


Possible shapes. One screen displays a set of one type of shape. When you complete that, another screen displays with a different set of another type of shape.

To play, the game displays a set of the same type of primitive shape on the screen that you look for and click with the mouse as fast as you can (reaction time). The shapes are the same color as the background with several types of shading that makes them stand out a little on the screen (contrast).

As you get faster and more accurate at finding and clicking the shapes, the lessons advance and become more challenging. Every few sessions, you are given a vision assessment. The results of the assessment are added into the customization algorithm for an even more personal experience.

Healthy Habits of Seeing

The healthy habits of seeing covered in detail with exercises in Better Vision, Naturally, are supported by ULTIMEYES as described here.

Relaxed, Centralized, and Aware means to not focus on what you do not see, but on what you do see, and to not strain to see what you cannot see.


ULTIMEYES teaches you to scan the screen with your eyes to spot the shapes and click them. The better you are at identifying and picking out the shapes, the more you are focusing on what you are seeing. If the game detects that you are having trouble spotting the shapes (slow reaction time or inaccurate clicks), it increases the contrast so that your mind remains relaxed, centralized, and aware. Likewise, if you are keeping up and getting faster and more accurate, ULTIMEYES descreases the contrast to challenge you to see better.

Detailed Memory requires a completed relaxed state of mind. Memory techniques take the mind to a much deeper state of relaxation to refine the vision into sharp focus.

ULTIMEYES uses sound to indicate the presence and approximate location of primitive shapes on the screen. In some sessions, the shapes appear one by one with varying amounts of time between their appearance. Then, shapes shapes start to appear more and more quickly and you try to keep up with finding them. If you fall behind, you can try to catch up by using auditory memory to scan the areas on the screen where the sounds had indicated shapes were appearing. If you fall too far behind, the game pauses and waits for you catch up.

Eye and Mind Coordination means the mind is present and interested in what it is looking at. In this state, visual images flow through the eyes and mental thoughts flow through the mind without effort. Holding onto and grabbing at images and thoughts gets in the way of the natural workings of you eyes and mind and blurs your vision.

In ULTIMEYES scanning and clicking the shapes improves eye and mind coordination as you learn to find and click as quickly as you can. You also keep your mind clear of extraneous thoughts, because they only interfere with spotting the shapes and slow you down. Not holding onto and grabbing at the images is implicit in successfully playing the game. ULTIMEYES challenges you enough but not too much so that you maintain the healthy habits of seeing that are required to spot and click the shapes.

Shifting is the involuntary movement of the eyes that allows you to scan an entire scene and pick out the minutest details. The normal eye shifts 70 to 100 times per second to see all details in a scene clearly. With eyestrain and blurred vision, the shifting of the eyes has an erratic, sticking or jumping motion that causes details to be missed and indicates an unfocused state of mind. Shifting breaks the mental fixing and jumping of the mind.

As you learn to scan the screen looking for and clicking the shapes, your eyes and mind learn to shift. Over time as you play more and advance to higher levels, the shifting becomes faster and more even.

Motion is the perception of motion as you move through space. Your awareness and perception of motion is key to mental relaxation.

Shifting leads to a better perception of motion that stays with you after you stop playing and go about your daily business.

Awakening a Sense of Space means thinking of an object and where it is before you look at it so that your mind can shift scale before you look at the object with your eyes. Blurred vision occurs when you look up after focusing at one distance because the mind is still at the focus point while the eyes attempt to see at a different point. Shifting scale helps you maintain eye and mind coordination.

In ULTIMEYES, you are seeing everything at the same distance as you play, so you would expect to have blurred vision when you finish. But that is not the case. And honestly, I am not sure why. Perhaps it’s because the game uses the other healthy habits of seeing discussed above to such an extent that you have no trouble shifting scale when you stop playing and engage in other non-computer activities. If this is the case, that implies that the other habits are keys to unlocking a flexible state of mind that awakens a sense of space around you.

If anyone else has any theories about how this works, I would love to hear them!

Computer Eyestrain

I have noticed that even after playing ULTIMEYES that if I spend a lot of time on the computer doing regular work, that my eyes get blurry again. Of course playing nearly every day and following some of my own advice in my book, Better Vision, Naturally, help to keep my vision in a healthy active state.

Integration into Daily Life

November 17, 2009

You gain only temporary, short-term relief to eyestrain unless you learn to practice the relaxation and vision building techniques throughout the day and every day. In addition to practicing the techniques, you have to shift to the new mental state introduced by the techniques to truly and permanently relieve eyestrain and clear your vision. Remember, what you learn is based on what you believe you can learn, and the limitations you feel about improving your vision are purely mental.

While you will probably notice relief almost immediately, it takes about six months to a year to get solid and long-lasting results. Use your glasses only when you need them, and take them off when you do not need them.

  • Practice vision building and relaxation techniques for 1/2 hour every day.
  • Set aside at least a 1/2 hour every day to practice daily integration.
  • Do not make an effort with the techniques. Switch to another technique, and palm, shift, or swing frequently.
  • Avoid the mental habits that caused your vision to initially go bad.
  • Develop a curious interest in what you see by noticing motion, details, contrasts, color, and shapes and the near and far points.
  • Ask yourself where you find it easy to keep an awareness of motion at home or work and where you find it difficult. During these times at home or at work, set aside extra time to practice swinging, shifting, and dodging and keep the memory of the motion going as you perform the activities that make it hard for you to keep an awareness of motion.
    • Apply the same approach to centralization.
    • Apply the same approach to relaxation.
  • Do not test your vision by trying to see things more clearly. Instead, see how well you can maintain an easy manner, notice motion, see one part best, or try to keep the Universal swing going all day long. Testing your vision does not test the technique, it tests what happens when you test.
  • Learn to meet life in a relaxed manner instead of taking a mental grip on life. Swing the black dot when you are in a stressful situation.
  • Make a record of what causes your eyestrain and find ways to eliminate the problems by making unfavorable conditions more favorable.

Workplace, Computer, and Television Eyestrain

Working at a computer can be very absorbing and create a lot of eyestrain. You tend to concentrate on what is on the screen to the exclusion of all else, focus for long periods at the same distance, and try to take in the entire screen instead of shifting and seeing one part best. You might unconsciously try to make the characters on the screen solid when, in fact, they are flickering. All of these things result in eyestrain, and for many people, the eyestrain is severe.

Television screens can have similar effects to computer screens except you can sit further back, which relieves some of the tendency to become absorbed. Any detail-oriented or high-stress work can cause eyestrain in the ways described above whether or not you work at a computer.

Whenever you work, are at your computer, or watch television, keep the following points in mind:

  • Be aware of objects around you while you work.
  • Be aware of objects moving in your periphery.
  • Take frequent breaks so that you focus your eyes at different distances.
  • Practice central fixation on the computer or television screen, or on what you are working on at your desk.
  • Remember to dodge and shift while you work.
  • Scan the images on your desk or on your computer screen rather than staring into the middle.
  • If your chair swivels, turn from side-to-side in your chair to create a short swing. Remember the short swing after you stop turning in your chair.
  • Practice short swings when you are on the phone or driving in your car.
  • Leave yourself notes to remind you to blink, sun, palm, shift, swing, dodge, see halos, or practice healthy reading habits.
  • Decide to focus on one family of techniques for the week. Start with motion because developing a sense of motion is critical to improving your vision. You might as well focus on motion until it is a second nature.

Using Strong Points and Developing Weak Points

November 12, 2009

You need to work on your strong points first and develop your weaker points later. The following story about a severely nearsighted hairdresser shows how this approach can be very effective.

The hairdresser started with the Long swing and responded well to it because she loved the feeling it gave her. Her teacher worked with her on motion telling her remember to perceive motion during the day.

Later on, the teacher worked with her on remembering the feeling of seeing print perfectly on a fine print card. They did no more memory work because this woman did not have a good visual memory. The memory of motion and the memory of the feeling of seeing fine print clearly were worked on simultaneously, and over a long period of time the woman’s vision improved when she practiced the techniques, but she was unable to apply the memory techniques in her daily life.

The woman did not have a good visual memory because she was not seeing much detail. The woman was more interested in feeling than visuals. To get the woman to start thinking and seeing details, the teacher started her noticing detail, color, and shapes in objects.

The teacher had the woman look at a tree and imagine a tiny leaf on the tree, and the woman suddenly saw the leaf on the tree. The teacher instructed the woman to use this imagination technique on everything including the hairs on her beauty parlor clients. This woman liked details so much she made a lot of progress with improving her vision and waking up her visual memory.

With things she could not see in the distance clearly, she would imagine or guess what these things could be, not trying to make them out clearly, but seeing what she could without straining and with interest and curiosity. She would move around the object visually, look for the shape, and make comparisons. She had to learn to be content to not see an equal amount of detail in the distance as she would see close up because this is the way of normal sight. People with normal sight do not see details in the distance the same way they see them up close, and do not try to see something, but imagine with interest what something might be in the distance.

After this, the teacher had the woman practice the Universal swing and keep the memory of the Universal swing going all day. The Universal swing widened the woman’s sense of space and got her thinking far away, and that in combination with thinking details swaying in the distance and close up stabilized her eyesight to normal.


People who like music like motion. If you have a good sense of motion and enjoy music, practice swings to music as follows. Baroque music is particularly good for achieving a relaxed state of mind, but of course, it is important that you like what you listen to, so, play what you like.

  • Let small details swing with the whole to achieve a central fixation of motion.
  • Practice edging and letting your gaze drift over pictures. As you do this, pay particular attention to detail and color because your ability to see detail and color will greatly improve when you refine your sense of motion.
  • If your vision is not improving, it is probably because you are not present in your body while you practice the swings. You need to develop an interest in detail by practicing central fixation techniques.

Note: People who are interested in shapes usually work with motion last, and people who are interested in motion, usually work with shapes last.

Curious about Shapes

One woman with a keen interest in shapes improved her night vision by contrasting the lights and darks by looking for the darkest dark and lightest light. This way, he avoided the tendency to try to see the same level of detail at night that he would see in the day. When he became good at this, he looked for colors while contrasting lights and darks.

If you like to look at shapes, use interest to improve your vision as follows:

  • Contrast shapes using central fixation and keeping an awareness of shapes in relationship to other shapes around them (peripheral vision). Try to not label the shapes, but see them in terms of color, texture, and relatedness.
  • Be aware of color when you look at shapes or when your line of vision moves from one shape to another.
  • Let your line of sight move across shapes and color. Never to try make out a shape.


A young very artistic woman with a positive attitude began working with pictures. She started with bold contrasts of color in the picture. She could look at a picture up close for hours. When the picture was moved out 2 feet, she started to notice different colors. After a few seconds, the color suddenly became dull because she did not have central fixation at that distance.

After practicing central fixation with pictures, she could see much more subtlety in the colors and many more details in the pictures at greater and greater distances at home. She then needed to improve her vision at work.

People with a good color sense often also have a good sense of motion. So the woman started to practice keeping the Universal swing going at work where there is more opportunity for motion than for perceiving color. The final step was to keep the memory of colors she sees at home while she is at work. When she became proficient at these things, her vision improved dramatically.

If you have a keen interest in color, practice central fixation and edging on the outside environment or on photographs by focusing on the following:

  • Contrast colors.
    • Look for large contrasts.
    • Look for subtle contrasts.
  • Notice smaller details of color and the shapes formed when colors change within an object or when your line of vision moves from one object to another.
  • Develop a sense of motion while you see color.

When you look at color, see bold contrasts and move into subtle contrasts. Do not put a label on anything you see. For example, do not think of a bird as a bird or a tree as a tree, but think of them as shapes composed of color. Look at two similar areas of a color and ask yourself if you see more yellow in one than the other. Use objects that are obvious and close together so you can see the picture without strain. Focus on smaller and smaller areas of the picture.

Work with a partner and have the partner see colors and direct your attention to them by asking you what colors you see and if one part of the picture has more of one color than another.

Visual Memory

If you have a good visual memory, use it to improve your vision by concentrating on the following things:

  • Utilize central fixation when you remember an image.
  • Develop associated pictures in your mind. An associated picture is a visual image of something in your mind with all of the senses involved. Associated memories enable you to remember an image clearly and for a long time. Here is an example. Have a partner help by talking you through the picture.
    • Imagine someone you know in their apartment.
    • Place yourself in the picture with them.
    • Add motion by walking around in the picture.
    • Add smell by imagining flowers in a vase.
    • Add taste by imagining something in their kitchen.
    • Add other senses.

A disassociated memory is a picture of something in your mind with only the visual sense involved. For example, the memory of a letter floating in space without the memory of the feeling of looking at the letter. You can use associated memory to enhance the memory of positive experiences, and disassociated memory to reduce the impact of the memory of negative experiences.

If you have a good associated memory, remember a letter such as an o on a blank surface. Keep the memory going all day. Add motion to the memory by making the o a small dot moving around in your mind all day long. Add the Universal swing by connecting the dot to the first object you swing and keeping the dot there as you expand the objects in the swing.

Sensory Awareness

Develop a feeling of the difference between close and far vision by practicing the following:

  • Build your visual interest in objects near and far by noticing color, shapes, and motion.
  • Do the Universal swing.
  • If you are nearsighted, pretend you are looking close when looking far.
  • If you are farsighted, pretend you are looking far when looking close.
  • Notice how the face muscles feel different when looking different distances.
  • Remember the feeling of what you are doing. For example, remember the feeling of a person talking to you or of climbing stairs. Remembering feelings uses sensory awareness to keep you present in your environment.
  • Extend the sense of feeling into the world by creating an image of what it feels like to be in someone else’s shoes, to touch what they are touching, and to feel from where they are feeling.

Basic Practice

November 3, 2009

The following sections group the relaxation and vision building techniques into basic practice sessions. The groupings are suggestions to help you get started with your own practice plan. Because some techniques work better for some people than others, you will have to experiment to find the practice plan that works best for you. If you find you cannot stick to a program, you might want to find a teacher to assess your needs and customize a program for you, or work with a partner.

A partner or teacher can direct your attention to things you may not be aware of. For example, if you do not have a good sense of motion, you are probably not noticing enough details. A partner or teacher can help you pick out details. If you have a good sense of motion, but your eyesight is not improving, a partner or teacher can tell you to concentrate on other vision building techniques such as central fixation or memory.

If you wear glasses, you will find the first part of correcting your eyesight is overcoming the strain caused by the glasses. After that, you should concentrate on the mental state that caused your eyesight to weaken in the first place. To change your mental state, you have to awaken your interest at the distance where your vision is not normal.

Foundation Techniques

The foundation techniques provide the groundwork for techniques to come. The goal is to get a conscious experience of a different level of relaxation when you see.


Sun for 10 – 15 minutes with your eyes closed followed by 5 minutes of blinking into the light. The light relaxes your eyes and mind, and the heat soothes tight muscles.

  • The light should be comfortable. Get the correct distance from the lamp.
  • Sunning can be done several times a day.
  • You can sun with your eyes closed until you are accustomed to the light.
  • If your eyes are sticking on the light, follow along the shifter.
  • If you start to stare at any time during the session, sun some more.
  • Start keeping a record of things that affect your vision.


Palm for a few minutes. Visual purple is depleted by light and replenished by darkness. Light and dark contrasts stimulate the visual purple. Palming gives the mind a new opportunity to go into a relaxed state. It soothes and relaxes.

  • Play music while you palm.
  • Turn your head from side to side with your eyes closed while you palm. Imagine the sun moving from one ear to the other to get a short swing going. Sometimes moving your head up and down is better than turning it side to side.


Practice blinking for a few minutes to help break up the mental stare. Transfer the feeling of relaxation you achieved through palming to blinking. A restful blink is when you close your eyes for a few seconds and remember the restful state of palming. After awhile the blinking obtains a restful state on its own.

The mind is straining when the eyes are held open. Once you get flashes of better vision, you might tend to stare and not blink and lose the restful state of mind. Blinking is essential at times like this. Blinking keeps the state of relaxation all day.

  • Blink with one eye. Close your eyes for a moment and blink the other eye. In time, switch blinking from one eye to the other without closing the eyes.
  • Use the air cushion technique to start a blink. Cover one eye and bring the other hand over the other eye pushing and suctioning the eyelid open and closed. Do for 5 minutes at a time 6 or 7 times a day.
  • Start the morning with 3 – 5 minutes of blinking to get into the habit. When you notice yourself staring, blink for a minute or two to break up the stare.
  • Move your head from side to side or look from one point to another with a body sway.
  • See with your nose as if there is a paint brush or a pointer on the end of the nose. Extend your nose out with a brush at the end that brushes over every point on the way. Be careful to not go out on the pointer to see, instead of letting the images come in. Brush with your eyes closed and opened.
  • For close vision, close your eyes and use your finger to draw on a point between the eyes. The mind follows the movement of the fingers.

Motion Techniques

With enough practice, a sense of motion becomes natural because motion is integral to normal eyesight.

  • 10 – 15 minutes of foundation techniques.

– Sunning
– Palming
– Blinking
– Pressure points and massage
– Shifting

Vision Building for Nearsight

Nearsighted persons need to gain a sense of things moving when they move.

  • Finger swing.
  • Short swings, especially the sway. Keep the memory of the motion when you hold your body still.
  • Long swing to dynamic music for 15 to 20 minutes. Compare the long swing to the sway by going back to the sway. Notice the motion. Get a sense of the world moving by you rather than you moving through the world.
  • Edging

Vision Building for Farsight

Farsighted persons need to develop an interest in details at the near point.

  • Reading with memory of white between paragraphs
  • Finger swing.
  • Short swings, especially the sway.
  • Memory swing. Start with a sway, then keep the memory of the motion when you hold your body still.
  • Long swing with peaceful music for 15 to 20 minutes. Compare the long swing to the sway by going back to the sway. Notice the motion. Get a sense of the world moving by you rather than you moving through the world.

Nearsight and Farsight Techniques

The emphasis is on refining relaxation and vision building techniques.

  • Foundation techniques
  • Motion techniques

Vision Building for Nearsight

  • Swinging and edging.
  • Reading with very small print with an awareness of the thin white line. Move your head from side to side while you read to maintain involuntary shifting.

Vision Building for Farsight

Refine reading. Move the head from side to side while reading to get the involuntary shifting going. Direct attention towards the white and develop a sense of motion when you read.

Reading Techniques to Reduce Eyestrain

October 27, 2009

There are some techniques you can use to reduce eyestrain,  improve your reading comprehension, and make reading more pleasurable.


A halo is a thin white line perceived around black when black is placed against white. People with clear vision perceive halos. If you learn to see halos, you can relieve eyestrain and clear your vision.

Goal – Learn to perceive halos.

Steps – Place a white card against a piece of black felt.

  • Close your eyes, relax, take a deep breath, and open your eyes. Do you see a thin white line along the edge in the white area? Look along the top or bottom edge of a line of black type against a white background.
  • Close your eyes, relax, take a deep breath, and open your eyes. Do you see a thin white line along the bottom or top of the black letters of the card?
  • Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, relax, and open your eyes again. Do you see a thin white line around the black letters on the card?
  • Read by looking at the halo at the bottom or top of the line of type, or the halo around the letters.
    Practice seeing halos with different sizes of type.

Explanation – Your eyes see size, shape, and color by contrast, and the contrast creates the illusion of a halo. When you consciously perceive halos, your mind unconsciously follows the halo around the letter in a relaxed state free of eyestrain.

Hints – Coax your mind to think white. Close your eyes and imagine something brilliant and white or scan across the black print and notice the white behind the letters. If you cannot see the halo, do not strain. Practice other relaxation techniques and try this later when you are more relaxed.

If seeing halos is too difficult, scan across the middle of the print noticing the white background. The goal is to not hold onto or grab at the letters and words when you read, but to shift across the line and let the letters and words flow into your mind. After awhile, you can shift your focus to the bottom of the print and notice the white at the bottom. The white becomes brighter and looks like a thin halo with practice.

Reading Comprehension

You achieve reading comprehension by letting the words flow through your eyes and the meaning flow into your mind without holding onto or grabbing at the meaning.

Goal – Practice reading comprehension.

Steps – Let your eyes follow the thin white line or shift back and forth over two or three words at a time while you read.

Explanation – Shifting back and forth helps to keep your mind and eyes coordinated. When you lose eye and mind coordination, eyestrain and blurry vision result.

Hints – It sometimes helps break the strain if you read out loud while practicing this technique or have a partner read out loud while you read the print to yourself (you will both need a copy of the same page).

Do not let your eyes move on when your mind is staying on an idea. Make up pictures when you read to help you become more interested in the subject matter and gain greater comprehension. You can catch a glint of light on the edge of a bent card and mentally place it next to the line of print to help see the thin white line.

Make Up Pictures

Goal – Create pictures when you read.

Steps – Read short passages of text or have a partner read short passages of text to you and make up pictures as you go. If you are working with a partner, describe the pictures to each other.

Explanation – Not everyone makes up pictures when they read, but if you learn to, it can help you achieve a relaxed state of mind because it increases your interest in the material.

Hints – If you have trouble making pictures, do the following:

  • If you are right-handed, look to the left when you construct the picture and to the right when you retrieve it.
  • If you are left-handed, look to the right when you construct the picture and to the left when you retrieve it.

Impulse Reading

Impulse reading teaches you to accept visual images of letters and words as they occur and to be immediately ready for the images that follow without grabbing at or holding onto any one letter or word or its meaning.

Goal – Immediately see images on cards as they flash in front of you.

Steps – This technique is more easily practiced with a partner handling the cards.

  • Quickly place one card at a time face up in front of you.
  • Say the names of the cards as you see them.
  • Do not stop on a card you do not see, but go to the next card immediately.
  • Vary the distance by moving closer to the cards (for farsight) or farther away (for nearsight ).

Explanation – Impulse reading teaches you to rely more on your visual sense because there is no time to employ other senses.

Reading at the Computer

Adjust your monitor so the print is black against a white background. This provides the most contrast for reading. If your monitor has a lot dots per inch (dpi), the black lettering will not be very black and the white might have a slight tint making is unlikely you will be able to see halos on your computer screen. However, the other principles of reading apply.

  • Let your eyes travel along the bottom of the letters when you read.
  • Think of bright white.
  • Notice motion as your eye moves along the line.
  • Give your eyes rest by taking breaks, palming and swinging.
  • Make up pictures as you read.

Make sure your monitor has good resolution (dpi) and does not flicker. The flickering of a monitor can make your mind tired and create a tension in your eyes. Position the computer to minimize glare, and use full spectrum lighting in your work area if you do not sit near a window.

Healthy Reading Habits

October 19, 2009

Because your eyes are naturally interested in light, they are attracted to the white spaces between and around print. Black does not reflect light, and so your eyes naturally shift around and pick up the light reflected by the white. The reading techniques in this section use this natural tendency of the eyes to seek out light to relieve eyestrain and achieve relaxation when reading.

Do not practice reading until you are comfortable with the motion and central fixation techniques.

For reading practice, use black print against a bright white background (for maximum contrast) in the following sizes: Large (11 to 14 points, medium (9 to 11 points), small (7- 9 points), and very small (6 points and under). Once you learn the techniques in this section, practice them whenever you read. If you find you enjoy very small print, you might want to experience with points sizes even smaller than 6.

While the healthy reading habits described in this chapter relieve eyestrain and clear blurry vision for anyone who reads, farsighted persons respond very well and rather quickly to the reading techniques. This is because farsighted people have trouble reading small print up close while their vision in the distance is fairly clear. When farsighted persons learn and practice healthy reading habits, they not only become comfortable reading small print up close, but their distance vision becomes sharper too. When nearsighted persons learn and practice healthy reading habits, they can focus better in the distance because they do not acquire eyestrain and an inability to shift their focus to far points when they read.

One day at my day job in a software company, a coworker explained how he has trouble reading small print. I told him to remove his glasses, take a deep breath, and on the exhalation think of something bright and white. When he opened his eyes, he could easily read the print on a memorandum I had pinned to my bulletin board.

Looking at White Space

Because eyes are light reflectors, it is easy for eyes to see white reflected light. Because black absorbs light, fixing on black letters creates eyestrain.

Goal – Accustom your eyes to picking up the light reflected by the white space between black letters.

Steps – Use a white page or card with black print that you can see.


Here are ways to practice shifting when you look at black type and awaken your eyes’s natural tendency to seek out white.

  1. Without reading the type, look at the margin of a white page with black print against white and shift along the top of the black print. Your mind does not strain to see small print if you do not try to read the print.
  2. Turn the page upside down and shift below the bottom line. Notice the whiter white next to the black letters. Turning the card upside down prevents the distraction and resulting eyestrain of trying to read the print.
  3. Turn the page right side up and still without reading the type, zig-zag shift down the page.
  4. While you practice the three techniques above, pause and close your eyes at the end of each paragraph to relax your eyes and mind. Think of something very brilliant and white during the pause. Remember the brightness when you open your eyes and go on to the next paragraph.
    • Notice the whiter white next to the black letters.
    • Maintain a memory of the white with your eyes open.
    • If you have trouble remembering white, look at something white, close your eyes, remember it, and open your eyes again a few times. Alternately, swing the letters on the card by moving your head from side to side and remember the sense of motion with your eyes closed.
    • After you have made some progress, pause at the end of each page instead of each paragraph.
  5. Do the same shifting with the card, but now read as you shift. Maintain a memory of white as you read. Let your eyes follow your nose and brush back and forth along the line. Do not think about reading the letters, just let the words and the meanings of the words flow into your mind.
  6. Start with large print you can see easily and gradually move to smaller print. With print you do not see clearly, scan over the white space without paying too much attention to the print. Every now and then, you might catch a capital letter or notice where a paragraph begins or ends. These are flashes of telescopic vision. Everyone gets flashes of telescopic vision but most people are unaware of them. With practice, you can be more aware of telescopic flashes of vision. which produce greater centralization, motion, and relaxation.
  7. As your vision clears, move the card closer if you are farsighted or farther away if you are nearsighted to accustom your mind and eyes to reading at different distances.

Explanation – Your eyes are light finders and seek out the tiny bits of light between and around the lines, letters, and paragraphs on the printed page in tiny, unconscious shifts. The shifting increases centralization, motion, and relaxation, and improves your vision in all activities at all distances. Your attention has to come away from the black print to read without eyestrain.

Hints – Remember to relax and breathe. Take a deep breath at the end of each line. Be sure to shift your eyes over the white line when you return to the beginning of a line instead of jumping over this space. Use blinking to relax your mind and eyes.

If you tend to strain and try to read the letters, bring the card close to your face, or use a card with very small print and skim the page for the white.

Do not test your vision while you read by noticing how clear or unclear the type is because this causes eyestrain and blurred vision. Instead, notice motion as your eyes shift across the line or remember something brilliant and white.

You can shift and scan small and very small print whenever you have spare time – talking on the phone, waiting on hold, waiting for a ride, waiting in line, or during commercial breaks.