Eye conditions & symptoms 2 min read

Eye-related reading problems

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When reading is a challenge, the issue may be eye-related - for example, impaired vision or an inability to focus properly.

Trouble tracking?

Some people’s eyes struggle with ‘tracking’ – moving along a page or screen to follow the text. Some possible reasons for tracking problems are outlined below.

Focusing

If a person’s vision system does not work properly, their sight may blur. This is also known as accommodative dysfunction. If so, the concentration required to focus on letters can be tiring, especially for children. Difficulty "tracking" may also be caused by hyperopia or presbyopia if this is the case the problem can be treated with prescription lenses.

Woman in supermarket struggling to read her phone screen due to issues with teaming

Teaming

The muscles around the eyes help them move in tandem. If they are not properly coordinated, a person may experience blurry vision, and struggle to follow the text. Lazy eye (amblyopia or strabismus) can result in teaming problems, and both conditions primarily affect children. But people with permanent strabismus, where one eye is constantly turned away, tend not to struggle with reading, as they only use the better eye to process text.

Peripheral vision 

Some people have a limited field of vision, and may not be able to process a whole word, phrase or sentence as a result. Prescription lenses can expand the field of view.

Related eye conditions

Besides tracking problems, difficulty reading could be a symptom of one of the following eye conditions.

Presbyopia

The ability to focus on nearby objects, such as reading material, can diminish with age. When you hit your 40s you might notice that you’re holding your phone further away, putting it into your distance vision as your eyes struggle to focus on close up objects, this may seem like an easy solution however starting with varifocal lenses earlier on in life can help with adaptation.

Man wearing varifocal lenses smiling when reading his newspaper

Astigmatism

Symptoms such as squinting and eyestrain are likely to be worse when concentrating on reading. Astigmatism is caused by the cornea of your eye being curved in more than one direction making it difficult for light to hit the right part of your retina. People with astigmatism will notice blurred vision, especially when trying to distinguish certain details that are key to reading.

Cataracts

Cataracts develop gradually and result in the cloudiness of your eye’s lens. This makes your lens less transparent and in turn, can lead to difficulties reading due to the lack of clarity. 

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

A symptom of AMD is blurred vision, especially when reading. Straight lines may appear curved, which will also cause problems when tracking.