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  • Writer's pictureEngage PT, OT, SLP Therapy and Wellness

Vision changes and PD: Strategies for Reading

Updated: Nov 20, 2021

Vision changes that may occur in Parkinson’s can have a big impact on everyday activities like reading. Slow or delayed eye movements (saccades) can reduce reading speed. Difficulty focusing the eyes (convergence insufficiency) can result in double vision when reading. Decreased contrast sensitivity (the ability to distinguish between areas of light versus dark) is thought to be common in people with PD and can reduce ability to read low contrast print materials like newspapers and packaging.

Although some changes in vision can be addressed with medication adjustments, trying other strategies to make reading easier on the eyes can help:

Difficulty focusing the eyes (double vision)

  • Wear single vision reading glasses instead of bifocals

  • Cover or close one eye while reading

  • Ask your eye doctor if you would benefit from wearing glasses fitted with prisms

  • Choose books with large print type

  • Adjust computer and e-reader device accessibility settings to use large text fonts and double line spacing

  • Stick to the “20/20/20 rule” —every 20 minutes spent using a computer or device screen, you should try to look away at something that is 20 feet away from you for a total of 20 seconds

Decreased contrast sensitivity

Slow or delayed eye movements when reading

  • Use a ruler or a typoscope to block out extra text and help the eyes focus on scanning a line of words at a time

  • Try out a speed reading app which uses serial presentation (one word at a time) of text so that no eye movement/scanning is necessary — the rate of presentation (words per minute) and font size can be easily adjusted

Want to give serial presentation reading a try without downloading an app? Click here to access Readsy (a free, web-based speed reading application)

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