Eighty percent of learning is visual. As information increases, so does the demand on our visual system. Vision problems make it harder and slower to process information and so contribute to information overload.
You can take some simple steps to make the most of your vision:
- Use good lighting. As we get older, the lenses in our eyes become less transparent, and pupils tend to be smaller. So we need more light as we age.
- The human visual system is designed to be most relaxed when looking at a distance. We’re designed to be hunter/gathers who gaze into the distance, not office workers who stare at a computer screen for hours and hours. It takes effort to focus up close. Follow the 20/20/20 rule—every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. That will give your eyes a break from focusing. Blink a few times as well. We tend to blink less often when looking at a computer screen, which can lead to dry eyes.
- Get an eye exam once a year to be sure your prescription is correct and to catch any signs of disease early. Some eye diseases, such as chronic glaucoma, don’t manifest symptoms until far advanced, when vision loss has already occurred. Systemic problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure can also affect your eyes.
- Tell your eye doctor about your normal working distance for near work. The standard distance is 16 inches (40 cm), but your distance may be different if you are short or tall, spend more time reading from a computer screen than reading print materials, or have a job that requires clear near vision at a specific distance. Your near prescription can be adjusted to your typical working distance.
- Losing your place frequently while reading or words running together may indicate that your eyes don’t work together as well as they could. Eye exercises (vision therapy) may help. If your eye doctor doesn’t do vision therapy, ask for a referral to a behavioral optometrist. You can also find out more about vision therapy and locate an optometrist through the Optometric Extension Program Foundation and the College of Optometrists in Vision Development.
Making the most of your vision will help you beat information overload by processing visual information more quickly, easily, and comfortably.