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Books or Ereaders? Which are Better For Your Eyes?

December 29, 2015

Here’s what you need to know about ereaders and your eyesight health.

If you liked to read books when you were growing up, you probably heard the same warning from your mother that we all did—stop reading in low light, or you’ll damage your eyes and wind up with glasses. While there are fates worse than glasses, the message is clear. You should protect your eyes, because eyesight is the most important sense we have.

Fast-forward to today, and we’ve begun to hear similar warnings, but not about paper books this time. No, now the culprits are ereaders, the electronic devices that more and more people are using to flip through their favorite novels. With the popularity of ereaders, and the pushback from traditional book lovers, we thought we’d weigh in and decide which is better for your eyesight, and maybe debunk a few myths along the way.

First, let’s take a look at that warning from your mother about reading in the dark. Will it ruin your eyesight? Well, no, it turns out you aren’t going to damage your eyesight reading in low light, but it can cause some serious eye strain and you might get a headache. So that’s a point for books, right?

Well, it seems that the same warning about reading from screens is also overblown. While normal television and computer screens can also cause eye strain if stared at too long, most ereaders use more eye friendly technology to produce their images. There is the black and white E Ink technology found in the Kindle, as well as the full color IPS LCD that comes in Apple’s iPad. Both of these technologies offer an impressive reading experience for users, although the E Ink struggles in lower light, and LCD users may experience reflection issues in brightly lit situations.

But are they better or worse for your eyes than traditional paper books? The answer is… there really isn’t much difference in terms of eyesight health. The new screens that are being used on ereaders are so improved from earlier versions that our eyes can’t detect their movement. So the real issue is the same as reading a paper book. Reading, whether on paper or on a screen, is a hugely demanding task for your eyes, and in either case you should be taking a break every twenty minutes. Give your eyes a chance to rest, and you’ll reduce eye strain and avoid headaches and muscle aches that can keep you from the latest bestseller on your reading list.

In the end, the choice of reading device is up to each individual. Some people like the convenience of carrying multiple books around in a small lightweight device, while others still love the feel and smell of a good paperback. It really just depends on which medium you’re most comfortable with.

If you have more questions about eyesight health, and how you can drastically improve your vision, contact OCLI today.

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