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Reading in the Digital Age: Tips for Easing Eye Strain


Enjoying books on digital devices has expanded our reading horizons, but it can strain our eyes. Ophthalmologist Stephanie Pisano explains why that is and how we can ease the discomfort. 

Digital vs. Print: Which is Tougher on the Eyes?

Digital content can be more strenuous on the eyes. They affect our blink rate and can cause dry eye symptoms, making reading less comfortable. 

Understanding the Blink Rate Problem

When we read digitally, our blink rate drops by 30% to 50% compared to face-to-face conversations. This affects our eye surface and tear layer, leading to problems such as blurred vision, burning, irritation, and redness. Insufficient blinking can further dry out our eyes.

Digital Devices: Advantages and Challenges

Digital devices offer advantages such as adjustable font size and contrast, which can be especially helpful for people with visual impairments. However, specific color contrasts in digital content can be challenging compared to traditional black text on white paper.

Long-Term Damage from Excessive Reading?

Extensive reading doesn’t usually cause long-term damage, but it can be uncomfortable, especially if you have dry eyes, incorrect visual acuity, or an imbalance of eye muscles.

Give Your Eyes a Break

The 20/20/20 rule can help relieve eye fatigue. Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes by looking at something 20 feet (6 meters) away to relax your focusing system.

Improve Your Digital Reading Experience

  • Keep a distance of 40-70 cm from your screen to protect your eyes.
  • Position your screen about 12-15 cm below eye level for a natural reading posture.
  • Adjust the font size on your screen so that you can read comfortably.
  • Minimize glare from the screen, especially from windows or overhead lighting.
  • Avoid extensive digital reading before bed to maintain a healthy sleep schedule.
  • If dryness persists, consider artificial tears. Avoid “redness drops” as they can worsen dryness.

Consult an Ophthalmologist

Visit your eye doctor to determine if you need glasses or special reading glasses to relieve digitally related symptoms.

Audiobooks vs. Reading

Audiobooks are an option if your eyes are limited when reading. However, studies suggest that people, including those with visual impairments, understand better when reading than when listening. 

If you’re comfortable with digital reading, you can research 10 books worth reading about gambling. It’s an invitation to explore the fascinating world of gambling, strategy, and thrills through the written word.

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