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Visual consequences of electronic reader use: a pilot study



With the increasing prevalence of electronic readers (e-readers) for vocational and professional uses, it is important to discover if there are visual consequences in the use of these products. There are no studies in the literature quantifying the incidence or severity of eyestrain, nor are there clinical characteristics that may predispose to these symptoms with e-reader use.


The primary objective of this pilot study was to assess the degree of eyestrain associated with e-reader use compared to traditional paper format. The secondary outcomes of this study were to assess the rate of eyestrain associated with e-reader use and identify any clinical characteristics that may be associated with the development of eyestrain.


Forty-four students were randomly assigned to study (e-reader iPAD) and control (print) groups. Participant posture, luminosity of the room, and reading distance from reading device were measured during a 1-h session for both groups. At the end of the session, questionnaires were administered to determine symptoms.


Significantly higher rates of eyestrain (p = 0.008) and irritation (p = 0.011) were found among the iPAD study group as compared to the print ‘control’ group. The study group was also 4.9 times more likely to report severe eyestrain (95 % CI [1.4, 16.9]). No clinical characteristics predisposing to eyestrain could be identified.


These findings conclude that reading on e-readers may induce increased levels of irritation and eyestrain. Predisposing factors, etiology, and potential remedial interventions remain to be determined.

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This project was supported by grants from the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, Department of Ophthamology and the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Partial funding for this project was provided by grant UL1 TR000153 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through the Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design Unit of University of California, Irvine Institute for Clinical Translational Science.

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Correspondence to Robert W. Crow.

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The authors report no conflicts of interest and have no proprietary interest in any of the materials mentioned in this article.

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Marlon M. Maducdoc and Asghar Haider are contributed equally.

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Maducdoc, M.M., Haider, A., Nalbandian, A. et al. Visual consequences of electronic reader use: a pilot study. Int Ophthalmol 37, 433–439 (2017).

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  • Eyestrain
  • Asthenopia
  • Computer vision syndrome
  • Ocular complaints
  • Electronic readers and tablets