Trouble reading, watching TV, or working on a computer, even while wearing glasses? An iPad, Kindle, or other backlit tablet could help end your frustrations, according to new research. For people suffering with what's dubbed "low vision," meaning difficulty with sight despite glasses, contact lenses, medication, or even surgery, backlit tablets have been found to aid faster, more comfortable reading.
Researchers from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey in the US enlisted 62 subjects with vision problems to read three articles from The New York Times -- one in the print version of the newspaper, another as computer printouts, and a third on an iPad 2. All subjects were found to read faster using the iPad 2, but particularly those with low vision in both eyes.
In a second experiment, 100 subjects read a book chapter in original book form, on an iPad 2, and on an Amazon Kindle (although note, it was a Kindle that didn't have a backlighting feature -- the new Kindle Fire does). Again, the iPad 2 was the frontrunner, with people reading an average of 42 more words per minute than when reading the book. Compared to the Kindle, subjects read 12 words per minute faster on the iPad.
Researchers say the new study can offer some hope for tech-savvy baby boomers who worry they may have to give up reading, or have to rely on magnifying glasses.
"Reading is a simple pleasure that we often take for granted until vision loss makes it difficult," says Dr. Daniel Roth, an associate clinical professor at Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine and study author. "Our findings show that at a relatively low cost, digital tablets can improve the lives of people with vision loss and help them reconnect with the larger world."
Roth presented his team's findings at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, November 10-13, in Chicago.