dry eye savanah Are e-readers bad for your eyes?

If you’re a bookworm, you’re well aware there are plenty of ways to get your fix these days , with everything from paperbacks to Kindles.

Reading on a device, like a kindle or an iPad, has a very different effect on your eyes than does a good, old-fashioned book. But should you avoid them? We talked to an ophthalmologist to find out.

Folks usually feel pretty strongly about this one way or the other. Some love the feel of a book in their hands, while others swear by e-readers. Which one is the better for your eyes? The answer is not so easy. The two have more commonalities than differences.

Dr. Elizabeth Miller with the Georgia Eye Institute says overall, the words you see in a book aren’t much different than what you see in the electronic form, but when it comes to user preference…

“From the standpoint of user friendly, the eBooks, Kindles, iPads, and Nooks are much easier,” she said.

She says it is important though, to differentiate between the types of e-readers out there.

“E-Books are much more like real books. If you have a Nook or Kindle, it’s much more like a real book. Light is reflected. If you have a computer or iPad or Phone, those lights are projected; little pixels that all come together. Studies show when you use that type of device, it’s more tiring and stressful for your eyes,” Dr. Miller said.

feature-accessories._CB324779281_She says that eye stress is all too common, in the form of…

“I see dry-eye the most in my office. Studies show when you sit down to your computer, iPad or Nook, you blink one-quarter of the time you normally would, so your eyes get dried out.”

Does that sound familiar? If you’re wondering what you can do to prevent this, here’s some advice.

“If you read for 20 minutes, take a 20-second break from reading, and look at something 20 feet away, and if you’re worried about the long-term effects of e-readers on your eyes, Dr. Miller says, don’t be!

“Won’t cause cataracts or glaucoma earlier. Will cause surface issues, in terms of dryness or irritation. I wouldn’t suggest staying away from any of those. Choose your battles.”

Dr. Miller says if you start getting intermittent blurriness, discomfort or tearing while reading, visit your doctor right away.

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Posted on by Georgia Eye Institute in Eye Disease