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.