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.


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.