How The Eyes Work During Speed Reading

How The Eyes Work During Speed Reading

If you’ve ever been witness to someone speed reading the sight can be remarkable. They turn the pages of a book at breakneck speed and often their hand is skimming the length of the pages very quickly. It’s difficult to imagine that they are absorbing everything that they are reading. After all, a person reading at normal speed can sometimes even have trouble remembering what they just read. However, it is possible to read and retain all of the information in a book or magazine even when you are reading it much faster than a normal person does.

Photographer: Joel Muniz | Source: Unsplash

It’s obvious that one of the keys to speed reading is the eyes. It’s the eyes that are scanning the page and soaking up the information for the brain. The people who are able to speed read don’t have special “bionic” type eyes. Their eyesight is just the same as anyone else’s.

The first step to speed reading is found with the eyes. In order to read properly at all, regardless of speed, a person has to be able to see to the best of their ability. This involves getting a regular eye examination. Once you have a thumbs-up from the eye doctor or a new set of glasses or contact lenses, you are all set to learn some of the basics regarding your eyes in relation to speed reading.

Picking Out Eye Wear
Photographer: Scott Van Daalen | Source: Unsplash

It’s easier to read under a dim light than a very bright light. Many people have been led to believe the opposite and have spent years sitting next to a lamp that is almost blinding them, as they read. The eyes adjust better to dimmer light and so if you are going to practice your speed reading techniques, invest in a reading lamp which generally features a softer type light bulb, so that it’s easier on the eyes.

Photographer: Jakob Owens | Source: Unsplash

For years it was strongly believed that speed reading was done by using peripheral vision. When someone refers to peripheral vision, they are referring to the line of sight that you see out of the corner of your eye. The idea was that the eyes scanned the page and the words that were caught in the peripheral vision were the words that stuck. This doesn’t seem to be the case though, as people who read using peripheral vision would ultimately be missing much of the text. This would lead to a misunderstanding of the material.

Instead, it’s important when you are attempting to speed read that your eyes scan the entire text. The techniques that are suggested for speed reading utilize this approach. That way the person reading isn’t missing entire words or phrases as they would be with the peripheral vision approach.

Getting things in focus
Photographer: David Travis | Source: Unsplash

Your eyes are essential to your success in speed reading. Having the proper prescription eyewear and using a dim light will give you the foundation you need to begin the process. By using your entire field of view, you can quickly and efficiently absorb the material you are reading.

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