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iPad better than print for patients with macular degeneration

Preliminary results of a recent study conducted at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School showed that individuals with macular degeneration significantly increased their reading speed when presented with an iPad2 over printed materials. 100 patients with mild to moderate vision loss from macular degeneration were randomly assigned to different reading mediums, including actual print, an electronic printout from a website, a kindle, or an iPad2. Their reading speed was calculated and the patients were also asked which medium they favored. The results showed that regardless of the degree of vision loss, all patients improved their reading speed by at least 42 words-per-minute when exposed to 18 point font on the iPad compared to print. In fact, the patients with the poorest vision (20/40 or worse in both eyes) showed the greatest reading enhancement when using the iPad. By comparison, the same font setting on a kindle produced an average improvement of only 12 words-per-minute. Preference and the degree of vision loss were correlated. Those with the most severe vision loss preferred the iPad, whereas patients with modest vision loss (20/30 to 20/40) preferred the kindle and those with nearly flawless vision favored print. It appears that backlit digital tablets such as the iPad are highly effective reading mediums for patients with limited central vision. The contrast between the words and the background on these tablets seem to benefit patients with the visual deficits associated with macular degeneration.*

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