For years parents have been warning their kids about the dangers of reading in the dark, and the strain that it could cause eyes. New studies suggest that in fact maybe a little more light is the answer. Researchers from the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany have recently found that, for those sixty and older, reading on a bright tablet actually reduces reading time.
The study was conducted comparing the time it took age-bracketed groups to read through text, first in print and then on Kindle e-readers and iPads. For those between the ages of 21 and 34, there weren’t actually any big differences. However, for the group containing people ages 60 through 77, the results were much different. On the iPad, set at the highest brightness, subjects were able to read a short page of text 2.5 seconds faster than in print. For those who read rarely or only in short sections this may not mean much of a difference, but for those bibliophiles glued to the latest best seller or those who sit to read the news daily, this could end up becoming a real time saver. The researcher’s conclusions were that the strong contrast caused by the iPad’s backlighting are the cause of the reading differences.
However, there are some risks to spending all that time with a blindingly bright screen. Computer Vision Syndrome is a group of eye and vision problems that may cause dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, and neck and shoulder pain. Ways to treat CVS include getting glasses that meet the visual demands of computer viewing, blinking often to keep the eye moist, and resting approximately every two hours of screen use. Age-related macular degeneration, a vision disorder that occurs most often on those 50 and up is another risk for those who use any backlit screen often. Phones, computer, and yes, even tablets give off a “blue light” that has been linked to age-related macular degeneration, as well as insomnia. The iPad can reduce emissions by adjusting to a lower brightness, and a white on black feature also helps and is offered by many tablets.
As far as the ramification for businesses, it means that employees could be able to work into old age. As eyesight becomes worse, the brightness of a backlit screen will compensate for it, possibly extending work for a few years. So while it may be negligible now, the long term benefits of tablets could be a big deal for businesses.