Harvard Women's Health Watch

Digital tablets make reading easier

Do you have to squint or reach for your reading glasses every time you pick up a book? Switching to an iPad, Kindle, or other digital tablet could help you read more quickly and easily, according to a study presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology Annual Meeting in November 2012.

In the study, 62 participants (more than half of whom had macular disease, which damages central vision) were given text to read in newspaper, print, and iPad versions. Participants read text on an iPad or Kindle more quickly than in either newspaper or print, gaining at least 42 words per minute when the font was magnified to 18 points. Those with the poorest vision (20/50 or worse) preferred digital tablets for readability. People at all levels of vision loss improved their speed by reading on a backlit device. The authors say this is a result of improved contrast sensitivity, which is often lost in people with poor vision.

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