Tips and Tools for Vision Challenges

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2023 issue of On The Level.

By Karen R. Mizrach

Our vision is a key component of our balance system. While it often helps us remain balanced, it can also be a part of the problem.

Some people have visual dysfunction that contributes to their vestibular disorder. Other people have strong eyes that work overtime trying to compensate for other vestibular weaknesses. The outcome of either situation can be a tremendous strain on the eyes, which affects various aspects of our vision.

Here are several tips and tools that can ease the burden on our eyes and make coping with balance disorders a bit easier.


A common complaint of those with vestibular challenges is light sensitivity, also called photophobia.

When it comes to light sensitivity, the culprit is often flickering fluorescent lighting in stores and offices. Bright sunlight can also be triggering. And of course, all of our screens; TVs, computers, and smartphones can all cause eye fatigue and strain.

Tips for Light Sensitivity

First, it’s worth investing in good quality sunglasses for outdoors and blue light blocking glasses with FL-41 lenses for indoor use. One well-reviewed brand to check out is Axon Optics. Indoor and outdoor options are available. Some patients swear by polarized sunglasses, but others say the slight “rainbowing effect” causes problems.

The right “fit” for you may take some experimenting. Keep in mind, it’s best not to wear sunglasses indoors, since that can lead to further sensitivity.

Another simple tip is to wear a baseball cap or visor when in challenging light conditions. The brim will block enough of the glare and overhead light to allow your eyes to relax. Just be sure not to tip your head back to see and risk irritating your neck.

If there is fluorescent or irritating overhead lighting in your workspace, try putting a small table lamp on the desk to counteract flickering and glare. If possible, position yourself so when you give your eyes a break from the computer, you can gaze out a window toward natural light. It’s good to make a habit of following the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes look at an object that is at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Finally, look for the option to change the colors, hues, and brightness on your computer, phone, and tablet. There are many apps, settings and filters that can help make the screens less troublesome. It’s easy to change the settings to “night mode” or “warmer.” Some people also find the “dark” setting on smartphones to be easier on their eyes.

Tired Eyes

Our eyes are working so hard to keep our bodies upright and balanced, they tire easily. Be aware of this during the day and give them a rest often. Make time during the day to close your eyes, put cold or warm compresses on them, and remember to blink frequently. When you close your eyes, relax and focus on the rest of your body, finding grounding and stability without your eyes open. This allows the brain to relearn that you can be still and safe without your eyes.

Apps and Digital Solutions

While you are taking care of your eyes and making modifications to ease their fatigue and sensitivity, you can also explore the many apps and extensions that are designed to make your devices easier on your eyes. Some that get good reviews are:

  • f.lux – changes the blue light hue to
    allow better sleep at night and rest
    for eyes.
  • Twilight also adjusts the color/blue light for relaxing the eyes in the evening.
  • Calise takes it a step further, using your camera to judge the best hue change for your environment.
  • EyeCare is a Chrome extension that prompts you to take breaks, gives eye exercises, and reminds you about the 20-20-20 rule.
  • Time Out fades your screen after a certain amount of time to allow your eyes to rest. It has options for music, scheduling the fade and even overriding it when necessary.
  • I-reader is an extension that removes all distractions, like talking ads, leaving just the text on a white page.

Another great digital tool are Text-to-Speech apps. They convert text to audio, so you can listen rather than read. A few of the highly rated ones include Natural Reader, Murf, Note Vibes,, and Voice Dream Reader (available on Mac and iOS). A free, easy to use option is From Text to Speech.

You might also want to try audiobooks rather than print books to give your eyes a rest. It’s a relaxing way to read if looking at a page or screen for long periods of time has become challenging.

Choosing the Right Font

Choosing an easy-on-the-eyes font on your devices is important. Larger, sans serif fonts (Arial, Verdana, Century Gothic) are the best. Avoid serif fonts which have little curly cues and other embellishments that force our eyes to focus harder to read. Find yourself a favorite sans serif and stick with it.

Visit a Specialist

Make sure to have your eyes examined, if possible, by a neuro-opthamologist/optometrist. There are situations where the eyes are not aligned correctly, are reacting incorrectly to focusing on near and far, and other issues that may worsen balance. Your regular eye doctor may not catch these conditions.

Be Kind to Your Eyes

Aways be kind to your eyes, which are working overtime to keep your body and brain upright and functional.

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