Reading in the Car

An optometrist offers suggestions to help squelch queasiness when you read in the car.

Reading in the Car, illus. by William Duke

Feeling queasy when you read in the car? Try these tips and maybe you can pick up a book on your next road trip.

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If reading while moving makes you feel like launching your lunch, don't despair. Roderic Gillilan, a retired Eugene, Ore., optometrist who has advised hundreds of motion sickness sufferers in his 35 years of private practice, reports that simply experimenting with different postures has helped many of his patients find relief.

No one knows precisely why a mismatch of signals between the brain and the body's motion detectors causes queasiness in some passengers but not others, nor why more children are affected than adults. But Gillilan has found that blocking some of the confusing visual stimuli helps. Dedicated bookworms may want to try his tips when on the road:

  • Slouch below the windows and hold the book at eye level.
  • Rest the reading material on your lap and block side views with your hands.
  • Turn your back to the window on your side of the vehicle, rest the book in your lap, and avoid looking out the window on the other side.
  • Read at night, with a light. When it's dark outside you don't see as much motion.

Photo Illustration by William Duke

This article was first published in January 2005. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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