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Jennifer Hue, Gianinna Saá, Mark Rosenfield; Reading From Electronic Reading Devices Versus Hardcopy Text. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2012;53(14):5446.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The use of electronic reading devices has become more prevalent. Previous work in our laboratory has demonstrated that symptoms when reading from a computer screen are significantly greater than those experienced when reading printed text. The aim of the present study was to examine symptoms and task performance when reading from two types of hand-held electronic devices.
Two studies will be described. The first compared reading from a Kindle electronic reader versus hardcopy printed text. 20 young, visually-normal subjects read a series of random words aloud at a viewing distance of 50 cm for a continuous 12 minute period. Both reading rate and accuracy were monitored. Immediately after each session, subjects completed a written questionnaire concerning the level of ocular discomfort experienced during the task, as well as the Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) questionnaire. A second study compared reading from an Apple I-Pod versus hardcopy printed text in a separate group of 20 subjects for a 9 min task performed at a distance of 33cm. In addition to the parameters described above, the accommodative response for the I-pod and hardcopy text was measured objectively using an open-field, infra-red optometer.
In comparing the Kindle with printed text, no significant difference in the total symptom score was observed, although the mean score for the symptom of tired eyes following the task for the Kindle and hardcopy was 1.33 and 0.75, respectively (p=0.05). Similarly, the mean score for the symptom of eye discomfort for the Kindle and hardcopy was 2.17 and 1.33, respectively (p=0.04). A higher score indicates an increase in symptoms. No significant differences in reading rate or reading accuracy were seen between the Kindle and hardcopy. When comparing the I-pod with printed text, no significant differences in total symptom score or reading accuracy were found. However, the reading rate with the I-pod (95.9 words per min) was significantly slower than for hardcopy (mean = 109.4 words per min; p=0.001). Further, the mean lag of accommodation was significantly larger for the I-pod compared with the printed material (1.08D v 0.88D; p=0.002). No significant differences in OSDI score between hardcopy and either of the electronic devices were observed.
A significant increase in ocular symptoms was observed with the Kindle, when compared with reading similar material from hardcopy printed text. Further, a larger lag of accommodation and reduced reading rate was seen with the I-pod. Thus reading from modern electronic devices is not equivalent to hardcopy printed materials.
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