Travelling on a train can be especially boring if you do not have company or if it’s a long trip. So it is not uncommon to find people catching up on reading or watching videos or movies during their commute. Although this might be one of the most common ways to pass the time for a countless number of travellers, could reading or watching something while travelling on the train be bad for your eyes?
The short answer is no, as reading or looking at something on the train does not cause any severe damage to the eye (Of course, only whilst following good eye care habits, as). However, reading or looking at something on a train can induce motion sickness. Although this does not apply to everyone, people prone to motion sickness, people with migraine problems, the elderly, children aged 2—12, and pregnant women are at a greater risk.
The main reason behind the onset of motion sickness while reading when travelling is the conflict of stimulus signals between one’s eyes and ears that triggers the symptoms of motion sickness like nausea, headache, dizziness, and sweating among others.
In simple terms, when you are reading while on a train or other transportation, your eyes are focussing on a page with static words at a fixed distance from your face. This makes the eyes signal steadiness to your brain. While this is happening, your inner ear highly attuned to body movements feels the vibrations of the transportation you’re in and it signals movement.
This conflict of stimulus signals confuses the brain, making it believe that you might have consumed some kind of toxic food that’s making you hallucinate. Thus, this triggers nausea, to get the ‘food’ out of your system.
Though there is no cure for motion sickness, the best thing you can do to avoid motion sickness while reading on a train is to take regular breaks and look outside the window to regain your visual perspective of motion.
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