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Digital tablets improve speed and ease of reading for people with moderate vision loss
Date:11/11/2012

CHICAGO November 11, 2012 People who have eye diseases that damage their central vision can regain the ability to read quickly and comfortably by using digital tablets, according to a recent study. The research found that people with moderate vision loss could increase their reading speed by 15 words-per-minute, on average. Using a tablet with a back-lit screen resulted in the fastest reading speeds for all study participants, no matter what their level of visual acuity. The research is being presented today at the 116th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, jointly conducted this year with the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology.

Loss of central vision affects millions of people who have eye diseases such as macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy, which damage the light-sensitive cells of the eye's retina. The retina relays images to the optic nerve, which transmits them to the brain. When treatments such as eyeglasses, medications, or surgery are no longer effective, ophthalmologists eye medical doctors and surgeons help patients maximize their remaining sight by using low-vision aids. Before digital tablets came along, reading aids were limited to lighted magnifiers, which are cumbersome and inconvenient by comparison.

In the study, which was conducted at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey, researchers found that all of the 100 participants gained at least 42 words-per-minute (WPM) when using the iPad tablet on the 18-point font setting, compared with reading a print book or newspaper. A more modest gain of 12 WPM, on average, was achieved by all subjects when using the Kindle tablet set to 18-point font. Patients with the poorest vision − defined as 20/40 or worse in both eyes− showed the most improvement in speed when using an iPad or Kindle, compared with print.

The researchers believe the iPad's back-illuminated screen is the key to the significantly improved rea
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Contact: Mary Wade
mwade@aao.org
510-725-5677
American Academy of Ophthalmology
Source:Eurekalert  

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