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UNDERSTANDING READING FATIGUE AND HOW TO PREVENT IT

Have you ever encountered a time when trying to read something was a huge chore? We’re not talking about deciphering the small print on a prescription bottle or trying to figure out what something says from across the room, but rather the simple act of reading words on a page. It sounds unusual since reading is such a natural part of our daily lives, but for some individuals, it can present challenges that make day to day tasks difficult.

When it comes to reading a book for hours on end or looking at text on the computer screen for a large portion of the day, our eyes naturally feel fatigued. In some ways, you can consider extended periods of reading to be like running for long distances - it’s possible, but the body isn’t quite equipped to perform that function for such a long time. Yet when reading for shorter periods of time become problematic, is there anything that can be done?

It’s important to understand the varying elements that contribute to reading fatigue, as some of them are environmental and others have to do with the natural aging process. Let’s explore exactly how our eyes work when we read, why reading can be tiring for some people, and what you can do to keep your eyes relaxed and refreshed even when looking at text for long periods of time.

Eyesight 101

Just like breathing or hearing, we see everything around us without even thinking about it. Our eyes are incredible parts of our body and function with machine-like precision, yet over time, they can begin to deteriorate. On a very basic level, we’re able to see when light enters our eyes and reaches the lens. This is a clear portion of the eye that works to focus light on the back of the eye, called the retina. The lens is flexible and can adapt so that we can see images both near and far, but as we age, the lens becomes more rigid and cloudy.

Eventually, most adults in the later stages of life can undergo surgery to replace their lens, but until then, they often have to deal with wearing glasses in order to see more clearly. It’s likely that some people end up using a vision correction to see far away, but sooner or later, most adults will require reading glasses once they reach age 40. Some are lucky enough to go well into their 50’s without having to adjust to this change, but more often than not, everyone will eventually need the help of this tool.

If you find that reading is difficult and your eyes become tired after trying to view text for a short period of time, it’s worthwhile to consider using reading glasses, particularly if you’re over 40. Reading glasses can help to magnify what you’re looking at and reduce the strain you feel when trying to look at smaller print, but they aren’t necessarily the only way to address true reading fatigue.  

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A Condition At Any Age

Much like the running analogy we used earlier, reading for extended periods of time can take its toll on your eyes. Even if you don’t require reading glasses in order to see clearly, the eyes are actively focusing on what’s in front of you in order to correctly translate the image through your lens and onto the retina, and these muscles can become tired over time. Reading fatigue doesn’t necessarily set in only after hours upon hours of reading, but it does include some pretty specific symptoms.

In most cases, those who are dealing with reading fatigue encounter more than just a tired feeling in their eyes. A dull headache can accompany this condition, as well as blurred vision or even a sensation of dry eyes. Some individuals find that additional symptoms including shoulder tension, an inability to focus, or even itchy eyes occur when reading for longer periods of time. Tiredness can occur with ease, as well as the sensation of a foreign object in the eye, excessive tearing, and more. Often times people don’t attribute their symptoms to reading specifically, as it seems odd that such a natural action would result in these changes.

Although reading fatigue is a fairly common and benign issue for people to experience, if your symptoms are severe it may be worth visiting your local eye doctor to make sure there aren’t any other underlying conditions contributing to what’s going on. Reading fatigue is easily treatable, but if your symptoms are actually caused by another ailment, it’s important to address it sooner rather than later.

Prevention Is The Best Medicine


Understanding reading fatigue and knowing the symptoms to look for is only half the battle, as individuals can take a proactive approach to easing their eye issues. In some cases, a person who experiences reading fatigue could actually benefit from using reading glasses, but we’ll touch on that more later. Vision corrections aside, one of the most important factors in making sure you’re comfortable during long periods of time is assessing the environment you’re in. Work areas should be well-lit but at the same time, lighting shouldn’t be so bright that it becomes problematic. Many like to use indirect light or a bulb with a frosted globe to help provide just enough lighting so that the eyes don’t have to work as hard.

Those who find themselves experiencing reading fatigue when on a digital device may want to consider adjusting the contrast settings on their screen as well as the brightness, as both can play a huge role in just how difficult it is to decipher the text. Take your ambient lighting into consideration and keep in mind that you may have to change these settings sometimes based upon what you’re looking at. It may also help to take more frequent breaks, even if it’s for short periods of time, to give your eyes a bit of a rest.

A range of other considerations can also help to reduce instances of reading fatigue, including making sure you’re sitting comfortably with appropriate posture, staying hydrated as the eyes need moisture to function properly, and getting an adequate amount of sleep the night before. While reading fatigue may seem like an isolated issue, it can truly be influenced by a variety of factors. 

Opting For Reading Glasses

Whether your reading fatigue is caused by the natural aging process, thus making it more difficult to see clearly up close, or you’re succumbing to a number of environmental factors, there is one thing you can do to help ease the strain that your eyes feel - grab some reading glasses. If you’re nearing or are over the age of 40, there’s a high chance that your eye’s internal lens isn’t able to decipher what you’re reading quite as clearly, resulting in your eyes having to work harder and tiring out faster.

Those who are far from needing an up-close vision correction can still benefit from the use of reading glasses as a slight magnification power is all that’s needed to help reduce strain and fatigue. In general, reading glasses are available in a wide range of strengths, and your specific symptoms, along with the type of material you’re reading and the environment you’re in, will dictate which power is right for you. Sometimes it can take a few days to fully adjust to reading with glasses, but more often than not, people experience a huge sigh of relief once they put them on and crack open a book!

Again, it’s important to keep in mind that adverse symptoms you experience when reading for long periods of time may or may not be directly related to reading fatigue, but either way, opting for a pair of reading glasses is a great way to help your eyes relax. Combining the use of reading glasses along with making environmental changes and taking breaks more often when doing close work is the ultimate combination for fighting this common condition.

What To Look For

There are countless options on the market when it comes to selecting a pair of reading glasses, and it may be tempting to go with the least expensive option out there. However, as with many things in life, you truly get what you pay for, and when it comes to your eyes, it’s best to invest in a pair that will actually help rather than harm.

Before you head out to your local convenience store to explore their reading glasses, take a look at the options from Gamma Ray. Reading glasses should be comfortable, stylish, and above all else, effective, and the selection we have available offers something for everyone. From modern styles that will help you look fashionable while pouring through pages of text to more classic looks that impart an air of professionalism with ease, Gamma Ray’s reading glasses will help you to battle reading fatigue even if you’re far from 40.

If you’ve been struggling with reading fatigue for too long, or simply need a little boost with your near vision, it’s time to go shopping for high-quality and affordable reading glasses from Gamma Ray. 

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