October 19, 2018
Are you having a hard time reading something in front of you? The blurry reading vision you experience when focusing on far away objects after working on something close-up (such as needlework, studying, working on a computer, or reading) might not be as serious an issue as you think. Poor lighting, weak eye muscles, and fatigue could be the culprit. However, in some cases, they could be an early indication of the age-related vision condition, presbyopia, which affects the ability to change focus in order to see things clearly at varying distances.
The eyes go through an automatic, rapid-fire process of refocusing when we look from near to far and back again. At reading vision distance, in particular, the pupils grow small and the eyes come together slightly. When looking at something far away, the pupils grow larger and the eyes become parallel. This process is called the accommodation reflex.
If there is poor lighting, the lens of the eye may have a more difficult time adjusting when switching focus to from reading distance to an object far away and vice versa. Plus, the ability to focus wanes with age, as the elasticity of the eye’s lens weakens. Prescription glasses or bifocals are an easy fix, however, there are a few other remedies to try in order to prevent a more serious eye issue from occurring.
The muscles surrounding the eye and the muscle that controls the lens’ ability to focus work in accordance. Therefore, strengthening the eye muscles via eye exercises can reduce the amount of time it takes to switch focus from near objects to far. One such exercise is to take a pen and bring it toward the nose until the eyes register the pen as one image. Then, turn your gaze to an object far away and try to relax the eyes. Do this for a few seconds before returning to look at the pen. Hold for a few seconds there and repeat for several rounds.
Conversely, making a conscious effort to rest the eyes can also be effective. While working, close the eyes for a few seconds every ten or fifteen minutes. Or perhaps, dry eyes are a contributing factor. As you read, your blink rate slows and dry eyes and irritation can result. This, too, can influence the ability to focus, and artificial tears could be all you need to alleviate the problem.
Sometimes, a change in prescription may be all you need to compensate for a lagging accommodation reflex. As always, however, if you are concerned your focusing issues may be due to a more serious issue, make an appointment with your eye doctor.
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