Prescriptions for reading? Using vision science to get you to read faster, better

The new technology surrounding prescriptions specifically for reading.

You’ve heard of prescriptions for glasses, but have you heard of prescriptions for reading? Find out how researchers are using vision science to get you to read faster and better.

When you have vision problems, you get a prescription to help you see better. Now, there may be a prescription for you to read better. Scientists are using advanced technology to boost your reading skills.

From computer screens to tablets to your phone, digital reading is embedded into every aspect of our lives.

“How well you read is really your ability to perform in the world,” explains Ben D. Sawyer, the Director of Virtual Readability Lab at the University of Central Florida.

And how you see the words on the screen can make a difference.

“I was walking through my career reading in a format that slows me down by, personally, about 15, 20 percent,” Sawyer said.

But now, researchers are using vision science to find your best reading format.

“What our research is showing is that when it comes to digital reading, there are formats in which people can read more proficiently,” said Stephanie Day, a research scientist at UCF.

Using a test that is similar to an eye vision exam, researchers had participants read passages in different fonts, font sizes, and line spacing. Then the participants answered reading comprehension questions.

“By looking at speed and comprehension, we’re able to identify which format actually helped them the most,” Sawyer said.

Early results show creating an individual text format can speed up some adults’ reading by more than 25 percent and could cut reading times in half. Right now, the researchers are using this test on a trial with elementary school students.

“We’re hoping that we can see even greater boosts for kids who are struggling readers or who have things like dyslexia,” Day said.

Once the best format is determined, the goal is to automatically carry that reading prescription with you to all digital devices. The researchers at UCF are partnering with Google, Adobe, and Readability Matters on this individual reading prescription project. To learn more about reading prescriptions and to find your best text format, visit