Are E-Readers Right for You?

Everyone loves a good story. Now that fall is here, it’s time to brew a cup of coffee or tea, grab your favorite blanket and curl up with a new book. The only question is: which one? Will you choose an action-packed suspense novel, an informative how-to book or an inspiring biography? The choices are truly endless.

There is one more decision that you need to make, and that is, what type of medium you will use to read your book. You have the choice of a traditional printed book, an audio book or an e-reader like the Amazon Kindle or the Barnes and Noble Nook.

You have likely heard differing opinions on e-readers. Some people rave about e-readers because such a small, portable device can hold the equivalent of a huge stack of novels. What convenience! Others warn that digital reading devices such as Kindles and Nooks are bad for your vision and can cause eye strain.

It’s true that digital devices are getting a bad reputation these days, but the problem is not so much with the device itself as with overuse of the device. Smart phones, tablets, televisions and computer screens emit blue light — high-frequency light waves that penetrate deep into the eyes and can cause eye damage over time. Kindles and Nooks are digital devices, but they differ from smartphones and tablets in two ways:

  • Backlighting: An e-reader is sensitive to the amount of light in the environment and it will increase contrast accordingly.
  • eInk: This special display mimics the look of printed paper.

These two features can minimize eye strain, especially for individuals with poor vision. If you suffer from eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration, an e-reader can make a significant difference in the clarity of letters and words. Ultimately, it will be your decision whether you prefer to read a book the old-fashioned way or with an e-reader. No matter what you choose, remember the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something at least 20 feet away. That will help keep your eyes comfortable in any reading situation.