Is One E-Reader Better for Your Eyes Than Another?

Ryan Whitwam

It’s a brave new frontier in reading. Gone are the days when people hauled around bits of dead trees with words written on them in ink. Okay, maybe those days aren’t over quite yet, but more people than ever are using e-readers of some sort. The question is can your eyes take it ?

The consensus overall is that whatever you’re reading on, real damage to your vision is unlikely. Eink screens like the one found on the Kindle and Nook are considered nearly as good as paper in bright light. However, the contrast ratio is still not as high as paper making them harder to read in low light. Without a backlight there’s little to be done.

Low light settings are just where an LCD based e-reader like the upcoming iPad could shine. Thanks to the backlight, an LCD should be useful in settings with low ambient light. However, in brighter areas the reflectivity of the screen may cause strain. As for the notion that the flickering refresh of an LCD will eventually cause eye strain, Carl Taussig of HP says not so much. “Today’s screens update every eight milliseconds, whereas the human eye is moving at a speed between 10 and 30 milliseconds,” said Taussig.

All the experts agree on this: use the reading surface that works best for you. They all have their strengths, so the choice is yours.

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