Macular degeneration causes damage to central vision which can make looking at small print books and magazines a real challenge. And for those who have spent the majority of their lives reading the daily paper, suddenly being unable to do so can be quite distressing. But while reading can be challenging for AMD sufferers, it is not impossible. In fact, there are plenty of vision aids including e-readers that can help individuals with low vision read more easily.
Electronic devices such as tablets and e-readers are great tools for those with AMD. Studies have shown that digital tablets help boost reading speed in people who have the degenerative eye disease. If you’re looking to buy a tablet for a loved one with AMD, or looking to purchase one for yourself, the following is a list of “low vision” considerations to keep in mind while shopping:
Screen size: It sounds obvious, but be sure to note which tablet/e-reader has the largest screen. For example, the original Kindle has a 6 inch screen while the Kindle DX has a 9.7 inch screen.
Adjustable light/contrast: Most tablets and e-readers have built-in lighting which adds that all-important contrast necessary for those with AMD. Also, opt for a new model if possible! Many new devices, (like the Kindle Paperwhite) have 25% more contrast than older models. Great contrast ensures that text appears sharper and darker.
Font magnification: One of the most convenient features about an e-reader or tablet is the ability to enlarge font size. As many AMD patients know, font size can make a substantial difference in the quality of reading. A quality tablet may even make using a magnifier for reading obsolete! Some devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy and Apple Ipad, offer zoom text; simply pinch or expand your fingers on text to enlarge it to any size.
E-Ink: Some devices use a special “e-ink” technology that copies regular print on paper. This prevents a lot of the eye fatigue that computer screens cause. It also makes it easier for AMD patients to spend more time enjoying a good read.
Anti-glare screen: For those with low vision, glare can be very irritating and uncomfortable. Some devices are better at controlling glare than others, so choose wisely. Alternatively, it is possible to find anti-glare film to stick over your screen to help reduce glare, but results with this tend to vary.
Simple navigation: Simple navigation is extremely important when considering which device may be best. Some devices use a touch screen while others have small buttons. If you’ll be using the device primarily for reading, ensure you purchase one that offers touch navigation. Hard to see buttons can make turning pages more of a challenge. However, some find that buttons have the advantage of feel and reliable response for less steady fingers. It’s also argued that touch screens demand adequate vision and better manual skills.
Deciding which e-reader/tablet is right for you can be confusing as there are many different models on the market today. So, before making a purchase, be sure to spend time testing each product out in the store. If possible, take the device outside to examine how it handles glare.
There is no surefire way to restore lost vision, but there is plenty of technology available to help make life with low vision less complicated.
What type of tablet/e-reader do you use? Would you consider buying it for someone with AMD? Share your suggestions and thoughts with us!