Popular Health Myths and Beliefs - Debunked
Scientific research takes on common wisdom. Guess which one wins (again).
By Corrie Pikul
Original Content | February 27, 2012
While your new e-reader is saving your back (the hardcover in your purse was throwing you off balance), you worry about its effect on your eyes. Good news, says Alan Hedge, PhD, director of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory at Cornell University: You'll be as tired after reading David Foster Wallace on your e-reader as you would be if you'd skimmed Infinite Jest in paperback. People tend to think of e-readers as computers, says Hedge, and tablets and laptops are known to cause eyestrain after long-term use. But those screens are illuminated from behind and constantly refresh, while new-generation e-reader screens with electronic ink reflect light like paper.
Your e-reading guide: Because e-reader screens aren't quite as white as the pages in most books and so may reflect 10 to 15 percent less light, Hedge suggests sitting closer to a lamp. Also, try looking away from the screen every couple of chapters, and when your eyes get tired, consider increasing the text size (an e-reader advantage that has been shown to reduce strain).