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Old 05-03-2007, 11:26 AM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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Avoid glare and you won't go blind reading e-books

Interesting read over at TeleRead on whether reading e-books could harm your eyes. The good news: according to a doctor who was asked by the person writing the article, reading e-books (from a backlit device) does not harm your eyes as long as you don't read in a "totally dark room". So all you Sony Reader, iRex iLiad, HanLin, Starebook etc. geeks using an external light source, you should be fine. The bad news: My eye sight has definitely deteriorated over time, and I don't know what else to blame but the e-book.

Link to full article
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Old 05-03-2007, 02:45 PM   #2
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Huh... almost 6 years now and it's never adversly affected my eyesight. Then again I tone down the brightness to the lowest setting possible. Interesting article.
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Old 05-03-2007, 04:29 PM   #3
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Interesting. My eyesight is going downhill fast also. Of course I stare all day at a computer screen (with plenty of glare) also.

And I'm sure it has nothing to do with getting old.

Reminds me of how suit coats, shirts and pants all seem to shrink in the closet if I don't wear them for a few years. It's a great mystery. Must be a reaction caused by stagnant air and darkness. But, oddly enough, socks don't seem to be susceptible!
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Old 05-03-2007, 05:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Turcic
Interesting read over at TeleRead on whether reading e-books could harm your eyes. The good news: according to a doctor who was asked by the person writing the article, reading e-books (from a backlit device) does not harm your eyes as long as you don't read in a "totally dark room". So all you Sony Reader, iRex iLiad, HanLin, Starebook etc. geeks using an external light source, you should be fine. The bad news: My eye sight has definitely deteriorated over time, and I don't know what else to blame but the e-book.
The future of e-books is e-paper, there's no doubt about it!
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Old 05-03-2007, 11:56 PM   #5
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My eyesight was getting steadily worse, until I switched from CRT screens to LCDs. Now, I'm replacing glass frames faster than I'm replacing lenses. Superior screens make all the difference. (Making them larger, so you don't need to be so close, is even better.)
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Old 05-04-2007, 04:31 AM   #6
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It hasn't been proved that eyestrain causes vision loss.

Folk wisdom (and early optologists) vehemently claim it does, but their common-sense thinking of "if it hurts you a little, it'll damage you over time" runs rather counter to the way the body typically works.

By that thinking, excercise that leaves your body aching and your lungs burning should be very bad for you. Indeed, it's obviously the other way around. Eyestrain is just as much excercise for your eyes as is sprinting a mile.

The factor that really determines whether a stressor on your body causes harm or benefit is mostly how steady and consistent it is. If you work your body at the same rate for hours a day and for years, your body will indeed deteriorate faster. But if you stress it irregularly, the benefits will far outweight the costs.

It's all about the body being lazy and not taking care of itself when it feels like it doesn't really have to. Don't encourage that laziness by "protecting" your eyes like a bad mother.

So, if you want strong eyes, sometimes take breaks and sometimes really strain them.
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Old 05-04-2007, 02:22 PM   #7
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If you want strong bones, break them every once in a while.

I'm not sure your eyes are so similiar to muscles. Eat your carrots.
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Old 05-04-2007, 10:37 PM   #8
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Bones heal stronger than they were before a break. (but please don't compare eyestrain to breaking bones.) This principle applies to every organ. Also, the primary component of the eye's focusing system is indeed muscles.
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Old 05-05-2007, 12:53 AM   #9
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From what I've read, if you're going to be looking at something close to your face for long periods of times, you should take a break every now and then to alleviate the strain on your eyes. An recommended exercise is to focus on something far away, then something close, something at a distant, something close, etc.; doing this for a about a minute to help exercise the focusing mechanism of the eye. While I don't practise what I preach, there for a while I'd have significant eyestrain from focusing too close to my face for an extended period; you know, looking at a computer monitor 18" away for hours at a time, and I'd end up having really blurred vision at a distance for a few minutes after long sessions.

I've since upgraded to a MCPC hooked up to my 60" HD-TV, but the damage was done from too many years of close focus, so now I'm just a little near-sighted (have to wear glasses to surf the Internet on my TV or if I want the details to come out). Ah well, what's the use having them if you don't use & abuse them?

BTW I like the closet analogy, I had been wondering why some of my clothes have shrunk so much. Now I know it's just because they've been in there for a few years with little illumination & lack of air circulation!
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Old 05-05-2007, 12:55 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alex_d
Bones heal stronger than they were before a break. (but please don't compare eyestrain to breaking bones.) This principle applies to every organ. Also, the primary component of the eye's focusing system is indeed muscles.
I don't think I want to test the bone hypothesis either, though thanks for the tip!
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Old 05-06-2007, 03:41 AM   #11
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Yeah, the look-close-look-far sounds like good advice. My point was that the "eyestrain is bad for you" line of thinking is wrong and baseless. For example, I just tried the look-at-your-hand-look-at-a-building exercise for a little bit and it made my eyes hurt pretty bad.

p.s. if you wear near-sightedness glasses when looking at your hdtv, the glasses change the way the light bends to make it equivalent, in terms of physics, to the hdtv being close to your face.

p.p.s i just want to make it clear that I think looking at something close for 1/2 of your waking day _will_ cause nearsightedness. Not because your eyes feel strained afterward (in fact, I think most people's eyes don't tire from doing that every day), but because you're not exercising the focus. Things that cause eye damage don't strain your eyes, they lull them.

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Old 05-06-2007, 05:53 PM   #12
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Reading device setting tips

I had the same problem some years ago.
I was a computer professional and for one year or so I used to work more then 10 hours a day using 14" crt standard monitor and, after that, I had to adjust the power of my glasses from "-6" to "-7".
After that I kept using the same crt monitor for an average of 4 hours a day without any further damage.

I am still aware of problems related to long working time using computer monitors so I tried to set my e-book reader devices to minimize eyes stress.

This is my choice:

1) Black white 100% light reflecting screen: I use an old black/white hpc (ericcson mc16) with 6" 640x240 pixel display; I switch off the backlight so screen works 100% with reflected light. The room lihgt has to be very good but eyes comfort is the same as if you were reading a paper book; maybe a little better because you can choice font type and dimension (I set it as big as possible) and line thickness. The result is ugly (the screen background colour is light grey/green - not really white) but you can use it for several hours and keep feeling comfortable.

2) Colour screen: I use a nokia 6630 phone with a 2" 208x186 colour screen. I set DARK BACKGROUND and WHITE TEXT to minimize the light emitted by the device; because of the high resolution I use small characters. I keep the same room light as if I were reading from paper. The comfort is good but not as the reflecting light screen.

Last edited by ebook_fan; 05-06-2007 at 06:01 PM.
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Old 05-08-2007, 08:57 AM   #13
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I don't have any scientific support but I believe that the best solution for your eyes would be eInk reading device. Any other type of reading device that requires backlight to make things visible on the screen, like LCD monitors have a lamp behind the screen, would damage your eyes to a certain degree. I think Nokia's screens fall into the same category as TFT/LCD monitors.

Last edited by astra; 05-09-2007 at 07:23 AM. Reason: grammar...
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Old 05-08-2007, 09:51 AM   #14
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Photons are photons, right? (In the visible range, anyway.) If you have a screen that emits a comparable amount of light (measured in lumens) to that reflected by a white page in a well-lit room, the effect on your eyes should be similar.

I've been nearsighted since I was 12, probably in part from reading a lot, but some of it is likely to be hereditary. When I read for any length of time (paper or a dedicated reader), I don't wear my glasses. This seems to help my overall vision, as the lens muscles in my eyes get more exercise in focusing farther away. If I leave my glasses on and read, then look up at something at a distance, it can take a while to be able to focus.

My computer screens tend to be nearly a meter away from my face, so I leave my glasses on when working with the computer. When I use my laptop, however, the distance is just far enough that it's uncomfortable to read without glasses, but tends to affect my distance vision if I wear them. This seems like the worst combination.
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Old 05-10-2007, 02:33 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astra_lestat
ebook_fan
...I believe that the best solution for your eyes would be eInk reading device.
Of course it is, I am just waiting for a cost-effective and format-free device to be available. Using an obsolete b/w display with backlight switched off is only the closest solution to e-paper.


Quote:
Originally Posted by astra_lestat
ebook_fan
Any other type of reading device that requires backlight to make things visible on the screen, like LCD monitors have a lamp behind the screen, would damage your eyes to a certain degree. I think Nokia's screens fall into the same category as TFT/LCD monitors.

Setting the e-book's backgroung to "black" (on ANY lcd/tft display) is a trick to obtain the least light emission from the screen. The result is not so bad and using a mobile phone as a reading device is maybe the best way to have always your library with you.
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