Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Aching eyes

Aching eyes
You do not have to have anything wrong with your eyes for them to ache when you are reading.
Lots of schoolchildren will tell their teachers that
• ‘books do your head in!
• Often the parents of such children will agree.
• Sometimes the parent says it and the child has to agree.
o I remember one student who was doing A level Biology trying to explain why he never took home his text book or exercise books

He tried to tell me that if he did, that they would get burnt. I didn’t really believe it but he insisted that his dad hated reading so much because it made his head and eyes hurt, he was convinced that it was bad for you and didn’t want his children harmed!

So this guy took home his books…. And guess what? Yes his dad burnt them
I sort of understand now.
For many people, when they are reading on white, they get cramps in one or more of the muscles that control the eye movements. Glasses do not seem to solve it. Sometimes they seem to make it worse. One student in a south London College had had 14 pairs of glasses between the age of 11 and 16 because of his strategy to deal with it!
His mother used to nag him to take his glasses to school. When he did, he used to get severe eye aches after just a few minutes. His optician told him that they should solve his problem.
His teachers assumed that when he wore his glasses he would be able to read better and concentrate.

But he knew it just was not true. But nobody would believe him.
So what did he do?

Strategy 1….. Forget to take his glasses or at least tell his teachers that he had.
H e got the reputation for being forgetful/ stupid etc… but at least they had a ‘reason’ why he could not work/read...
He got into lots of trouble from his mother.

Strategy 2….. After a while the only way he could be ‘less got at’ was to break his glasses... he became known as clumsy as well as not very ‘clever’. But at least now, there was a decent time lag before he had another pair to break… 14 times!!!

At his further education college I worked out his best computer settings for him to work with.
Now he was happy to wear his glasses and get on. Result.

When you are reading, if you are a ‘good reader’… someone who finds it enjoyable, not tiring, can concentrate on and understand what you are reading, then your eyes will be working well together.
If not then what happens after a while, is one eye is sort of switched off. (Look at the distractibility blog). It moves away from the words. As it does so it seems to interfere with the eye which is carrying on with the reading. It is as if the ‘wandering eye’ is no longer glued to the words.
You can see this on my Eyetracker with large numbers of people who are diagnosed as ‘having reading difficulties’.
If you want to simulate this, you can do it by placing some thick but clear polythene sheet in front of one eye and then try reading. That eye will then after a while looking at the words and turn sideways as you read. The other eye may well then start to ache. You have effectively simulated a cataract in one eye!!!
Do not do this for too long it can get annoying.
It is a bit like when they patch the good eye of a child to try and force the brain to use a ‘lazy eye’... for the cognoscenti… an amblyopic eye’…

I will leave that for another day.

I have not covered the sicky/giddiness /nausea that some people feel when they read... Next time.

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