The power of reading

OT 's Emily McCormick reveals how she didn't let her vision get in the way of her passion for reading, and neither should you


My love of books began as a young child after successfully making my way out of a ‘supportive’ reading group around the age of six. Determined to maintain and build on my so-called ‘average’ reading skills, over the next few years when I got home from school, rather than turn on the TV, I would greedily read anything I could get my hands on, including the books my teacher left in my book bag. 

By the time my reading skills had progressed to match, and maybe even exceed, that of my classroom colleagues, my passion for all things literary was fully ignited. During these years, I became so enthralled with the imaginary worlds on my page that when my mum called me to dinner or demanded that I brush my teeth and get ready for bed, I didn’t hear a sound. Up to this day, she still doesn’t believe that when she entered my room, after a third non-responsive call, I really hadn’t heard her. 
Reading was for me, and still is, both a creative outlet and a learning tool that helped me progress in my school career. 
But, when I hit my teens, my passion began to waiver. Not because I was entering that awkward life stage where hanging out with friends and learning the lyrics to every Spice Girls tune become top priority. Not even the lyrical genius of Wannabe could contend. My interest diminished because I began to find it difficult to focus and follow a line to the end of the page. 

As the number of books that I borrowed from the local library began to dwindle, and the time that I spent in front of the television rose – my mum suspected that something was wrong. Questioning me about my faltering interest, I admitted that I was struggling read for more than half an hour without the lines becoming blurry. That weekend I was marched off to the optometrists for my first-ever eye test. I was 13 years old. 
I was lucky that my mum noticed my problem and took action, understanding the integral link between vision, reading and learning. After that, without fail, she would ensure that my sisters and I had regular sight tests when we were recalled to our local optometrists. 
My problem was simple, and nothing that a pair of glasses couldn’t solve. However, had it happened when I was younger and it went unnoticed, it could have certainly hindered my education.  
As we celebrate World Book Day (3 March), I don’t mind admitting that I certainly don’t read as much as I’d like to, but I have my sight tested regularly to ensure that when I do find the time to reach to my bookshelf, my vision will not get in the way. Don’t let yours. 

Emily McCormickEmily McCormick is the AOP’s Deputy Editor and Web Editor. When she's not seeking out the latest news in optics, you'll most likely find her doing one of two things – reading the latest Paige Toon chick lit or run-commuting around London (258 days and counting...).