Nose getting in the way of reading.
September 4, 2006 4:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm am having trouble reading because my nose keeps getting in the way.

I know this sounds stupid, but for the last couple of years, I have had a hard time reading, because I am distracted by many things, particularly the tip of my nose. I've tried all sorts of book positions, seating arrangements, distances, and nothing seems to work. I'm having trouble getting any thing out of my readings because of this. Could it be my eyes? I've always had good vision, but this development over the last couple of years worries me.
posted by corpse to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
IANAnOptician, but have you considered lying less to Gepetto?

Or (more likely) you need glasses - happens to us all. I had the same problem pre-LASIK.
posted by TrashyRambo at 5:17 PM on September 4, 2006 [4 favorites]

mention it to your doctor. he might be able to do a casual asessment to be able to tell if you need to be referred to an optician or a psychologist...
posted by GleepGlop at 5:28 PM on September 4, 2006

I close one eye when I read for long periods. I have done this since I was a little kid, unconsciously at first. Sometimes left, sometimes right. I think I may do this because neither eye is very dominant, so I get this weird shifting sometimes between eyes when I am reading.

I relate this because I think that this shifting-back-and-forth issue can make the tip of your nose more distracting, because you aren't sure which side of the nose you're looking at.

Also, my nose is large.
posted by Mid at 5:32 PM on September 4, 2006

To remedy this sometimes, I put my finger along the side of my nose, up between my eyes. Someone this slight visual distraction keeps me somewhat focused. I can't hold it for an extended amount of time though.
posted by corpse at 5:38 PM on September 4, 2006

I have the same one-eyed tactic as Mid, and the same confusion about which side of the nose I'm looking at. That is, I did until I wrote a big L and R on each side. No more problem!
posted by drewbeck at 5:39 PM on September 4, 2006

Hardy har har. I didn't mean that I couldn't tell which side of my nose I was looking at literally, but that the image of my nose would shift back and forth and kind of muddle together in a weird way. And my nose would kick your ass.
posted by Mid at 5:42 PM on September 4, 2006

I don't think my nose is too big. Many other problems, yes, but the nose seems to be okay.
posted by corpse at 5:47 PM on September 4, 2006

Could you just hold the book further from your head?
posted by fshgrl at 8:25 PM on September 4, 2006

That is indeed a very strange problem. This reminds me of a very similar problem Ive read about, and I wonder if your problem could be helped by vision excercises. I should point out that what follows is complete and utter speculation, but maybe there is something of potential use in it.

The way I understand that your eyes are supposed to work is that each eye has a different field of view. There is a fair degree of overlap in what each eye sees, and in most people, the mind will effortlessly fuse these two slightly different images into a single image with the perception of depth added for items nearby.

Depth perception comes from parallax shift-- an apparent shift of the location of something when viewed from one eye as opposed to the other. Things that are over 15 feet away do not have enough parallax to contribute to the illusion of distance, and things closer than, say, a foot or so have so much shift that the visual cortex cannot appropriately fuse them. (if you hold your finger 4 inches in front of your face, you should see it twice).

Most people are either 'right-eyed' or 'left-eyed' where one or the other of the eyes is chosen as a preferred input in the case of information that cannot be well-integrated. Holding my finger in the same place, and rapidly alternating the eye that looks at it produces one view that looks much more like when both eyes are open.

From what you mention, it seems as if you cannot stick to one view or the other, but instead you have a bistable percept of an alternation between these two positions. This might be a problem in itself, or a symptom of your eyes not quite fixating on the same spot as each other.

In any case, it sounds like it could be a problem for a neuroophthamologist to look at. I understand that many of these problems can be fixed with excersizes that help your eyes and/or brain integrate these images better.

For a little more about this sort of thing, there is an excellent Oliver Sacks article in a recent New Yorker (excerpt here.)

Sacks, Oliver. Stereo Sue. The New Yorker, June 19, 2006, pp. 64-73.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 10:11 PM on September 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

All of these rather detailed explanations scare me a bit. Why not just hold the book higher in relation to your eyes? Sure, it might be a bit more awkward at first, but being able to see your nose while reading tells me that your eyes are looking much further south than they really need to be.

You're probably trying to save neck strain from bending your head down or saving from arm strain by keeping the book lower. Why not just use your stomach/abs as support for your elbows/forearm, stick the book up and out a bit more, and read from an angle that's more level face (and eyes)?
posted by SeizeTheDay at 10:21 PM on September 4, 2006

I can't see my nose when I have my glasses on - perhaps, if you don't wear glasses normally, you could get some with plain (non-corrective) lenses?
posted by altolinguistic at 5:27 AM on September 5, 2006

then again, I have a very small nose.
posted by altolinguistic at 5:27 AM on September 5, 2006

I've made an appointment for an eye examination. I'll consult my general doctor as well, especially if it continues.
posted by corpse at 7:40 AM on September 5, 2006

Vision therapy was recommended. I still have perfect vision, but I nearly cross my eyes everytime I read, resulting in almost having double vision. So no quick and easy fix.
posted by corpse at 12:16 PM on September 6, 2006

He also said the only glasses that would help would be prisim glasses, but they would only make my eyes even lazier.
posted by corpse at 12:16 PM on September 6, 2006

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