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.