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  • Writer's pictureEsna van der Walt

The benefits of reading

In our fast-paced information age dominated by various other media sources, the art of reading seems to be fading into the background. With the allure of digital devices and the constant bombardment of information, sitting down with a good book may feel like a luxury reserved for a bygone era.

However, the benefits of reading extend far beyond knowledge acquisition. Reading fiction promotes our overall health by stimulating cognitive processes, and by improving eye movement, coordination and focus.

Reading stimulates cognitive processes

Reading fiction creates and strengthens new pathways in our brain. It forces us through books to view other people's perspectives, sympathising and empathising with one another.

According to science writer Rita Carter, in the TED talk Why reading matters, “your brain needs a workout as much as your body. And reading fiction seems to be one of the best workouts you can get. Not only is it good for you, but it's also good for society as a whole, because the brain is like a muscle: the more you force yourself through books to take other people's perspectives, to sympathise, to empathise with other people, the more empathetic a society we will have.”

Neurosience research has shown that reading fiction can lead to improved imagination, memory, and relationships. Compared to when we speak, reading forces us to use parts of our brain that are not typically utilised, making it a more mentally stimulating process. It also requires the brain to create new pathways and connections, which results in complicated networks being formed throughout the brain.

Furthermore, brain scans have shown that when people read about experiences, the brain patterns are very similar to those that occur when the person is actually having that experience. Experiencing a fictional scenario from the perspective of the narrator, has actually been proven to improve empathy and sympathy.

Reading improves eye movement and coordination

Apart from fostering and strengthening neural connections, reading promotes the development of healthy eye movement and coordination. When we read, our eyes engage in a pattern of movements, as they jump from word to word across the page. This dynamic activity exercises the eye muscles, enhancing their flexibility and coordination. Over time, this can contribute to improved eye function.

Reading as part a healthy eye routine

It's important to note that while reading can offer these advantages, it should be complemented by other eye-friendly practices. Regular eye check-ups, a balanced diet rich in nutrients essential for eye health, and breaks from extended periods of screen use are crucial components of maintaining optimal vision.


In conclusion, reading is not just a leisure activity or a means of acquiring knowledge; it is a holistic exercise for the mind and the eyes. By embracing the habit of reading, we not only open ourselves to new worlds and ideas but also nurture the health and well-being of our eyes. Remember that the next time you open up a book!

Book an appointment with us

If you have more questions about the benefits of reading, or have trouble seeing clearly, talk to Tomlinson Optometrists.

Get in touch with us on WhatsApp:

Book an appointment online:

Phone 021 797 7291, email or visit us at 278B Main Road, Kenilworth.

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