How to Use Peripheral Vision in Reading (Explained for Beginners)
You can use your peripheral vision to improve reading speed by training yourself to look at the space between two words rather than the specific word you want to read. With some practice, you will soon be able to read both words, jump to the next pair, and improve your reading speed drastically.
Undoubtedly, reading broadens your intellectual horizons and helps you improve every facet of your life. While there is no shortage of reading material, from books and articles to blog posts, you might struggle to find the time to read.
So, what can you do if you want to read more without having to devote more time? The most straightforward answer to this question is to improve your reading speed. If you can read faster, you can go through more material.
Training your peripheral vision can help you tremendously to improve your reading speed. The goal is to use your peripheral vision to gather more information and read faster. Want to know how you can train your peripheral vision and read faster? Read on!
What is peripheral vision, and how does it work?
Before we can talk about how you can use your peripheral vision to read faster, we must understand what peripheral vision is and what role it plays.
Peripheral or indirect vision is our ability to see things away from the point of fixation or focus. When you read something, for example, you focus on the word you are about to read with your central vision while the peripheral vision gathers information around the word.
Let’s try understanding the concept of peripheral vision using a simple example.
Our eyes tend to fixate on moving objects. If I was standing in front of the room talking to you, and someone threw a baseball across the room, no matter how compelling of a speaker I was, you’d automatically look at the baseball as it shot its way through the room. That’s because of one core reason.
The baseball poses a potential risk to you, and as a survival mechanism, you will pick it up with your eyes, allowing you to take the next action to get out of harm’s way.
As you can see from this example, peripheral vision is a tool built into your anatomy that you can use in other situations. You can use the same principle of peripheral vision to gather more information and ‘scan’ text as you read anything to improve your reading speed.
Let’s see how you can improve your reading speed by following simple tips and techniques.
How to train peripheral vision for reading?
While focusing on a specific object, your peripheral vision is designed to pick up relevant information within your eyesight range. So, how can we use this information to our advantage?
You can use your peripheral vision to read multiple words at a time. That way, instead of reading just one word at a time like most readers, you can read two, three, four, or even more words simultaneously.
Here are a few ways to train your peripheral vision to help you read faster.
Learn to reset your fixation points
Fixation points are the centers of your gaze or the focal points of your sight. When most people read anything, they focus on the word they are trying to read, and once they have read it, they shift their focus to the next term.
As you can imagine, doing this allows them to read one word before moving on to the next. In other words, most people read one word at a time.
In contrast, when you use your peripheral vision to read, you look in the space between two words instead of looking at the specific word, trying to read both terms and then moving your eyes to the next pair of words.
You are resetting your fixation point from one word to the space between the two words. Doing this allows you to read multiple terms simultaneously rather than being stuck on a single word.
As you improve with practice, you can fixate on one word and read both, the word to the left and the word to the right. So, try this out. Instead of looking at one word at a time, try looking at the space in between the two words, forcing yourself to read the word to the left of the space and the word to the right.
It might seem a little weird at first, but after a while, you’ll get used to it and find it quite easy. Most importantly, you’ll also notice that you’ll be reading much faster!
Remember, practice is the key to success. The more you practice, the better your peripheral vision and the faster you read.
Use your finger as a guide to training your peripheral vision
Have you noticed how little children are taught to read? The teachers use their index fingers and point the finger at the word they are trying to make the child read. You can use a similar technique to train your peripheral vision.
Our eyes fixate on moving objects and we can use this to our advantage to help us read faster.
How? By using our finger as a guide!
You see, it isn’t enough to just tell yourself to read faster. That won’t work. When you run your finger under each line of text from start to finish at a pace about 25% faster than when you read, your eyes will do two things.
First, you will follow the tip of your finger subconsciously.
Second, you will read the words at that speed.
The next time you read, use your finger as a guide by running it under each line of text about 25% faster than you normally read, looking just above the tip of your finger where to read the words.
It might seem a little weird initially, but soon you will get used to it, and your eyes will acclimate to both following the tip of your finger and reading the words. The more you practice, the better you will get at it.
Exercise your eye muscles to improve your peripheral vision
Exercising your eye muscles has many benefits, including enhancing your peripheral vision. Here is a simple eye exercise routine that will help strengthen your eye muscles and improve your reading speed.
Sit comfortably in a well-lit area and pick a spot on the wall directly in front of you.
While focussing on the spot, bring your index fingers of both hands to the side of your head while keeping your head still.
Wiggle your fingers, and you should be able to sense the movement with your eyes. Now, move your arms slowly backward until the fingers go out of your visual range. Bring them forward till the fingers reappear.
Repeat the exercise three to four times.
Make sure that when you do this exercise, you shouldn’t lose focus on the spot you picked on the wall in step 1.
With regular practice, you will soon start seeing improvement in your peripheral vision while speed reading, and your eyes won’t get too tired either.
Use AccelaReader.com to increase your reading speed
How would you like to increase your reading speed by 50% without any formal speed-reading training? Well, now you can do just that with AccelaReader.com!
Check out the video below on how to use this free tool works and enjoy blazing fast speeds while you read all your computer documents and blog posts!
In a world where information is more abundant than ever, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could read your material 2 to 3 times faster?
By training your peripheral vision, you can tremendously improve your reading speed and read more in less time, so you can go out and do all the other stuff you want besides reading!
Check out Iris Reading’s speed reading courses!
Paul is the founder of Iris Reading, the largest provider of speed-reading and memory courses. His workshops have been taught to thousands of students and professionals worldwide at institutions that include: NASA, Google, HSBC and many Fortune 500 companies.
I’m always staggered by how efficient the hand pacing tool is, particularly since I have been using it for quite a while now. Great technique and so easy to learn. I haven’t tried to focus on spaces between words yet, which is an interesting variation of reading groups of words. I’ll try that. Thx for this tip, Mark