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According to the results of a new study, people with low vision can read faster on iPads. The findings of the study will be presented at the annual American Academy of Ophthalmology Meeting in Chicago. While only the iPad 2 and Kindle were used in the study, the results concluded that tablets with backlit screens can improve the vision of people suffering from macular diseases.

“Low vision” refers to people who have trouble watching TV, reading or doing other basic daily tasks despite using medication, contact lenses, glasses or even undergoing surgery. For a long time, such people have had to rely on magnifying glasses, which are often quite bulky.
The Study

Two experiments were conducted during the study. In the first experiment, 62 volunteers participated, and more than 30 of them were suffering from a form of macular eye disease. The volunteers were given 3 articles to read on an iPad 2 and as computer printouts. The articles were from The New York Times.

The participants read the iPad articles than they did the computer printouts. The improvement was more evident among people with low vision.

The next experiment involved 100 participants reading a book chapter on an iPad 2 and over a Kindle.  Doctors set the iPad background brightness to maximum levels. The Kindle used in the study was the older version that has no backlight. The volunteers read the chapter on the iPad and Kindle both at 12 points and 18 points.

The result of the study was as follows:

All participants read the articles faster on the iPad than the Kindle
When font size was increased to 18 points, the reading gap increased between the iPad and Kindle increased.
When the font was set to 18 points on the iPad, participants read 42 WPM more than they did the book.
The average WPM read on the Kindle at point 18 was 12.

Brightness Improves Vision for Low Vision People
Tablets with a backlight boost contrast sensitivity making it easy for the eye to distinguish an object against its background. Daniel Roth, MD, a clinical professor at Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, says that people who suffer from low vision have poor ability to contrast objects from their background. A magnified background light magnifies the object on focus, thus improving a person’s vision on finer detail. This explains why the iPad helps people with low vision read better.: