E-readers and visual fatigue

PLoS One. 2013 Dec 27;8(12):e83676. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083676. eCollection 2013.


The mass digitization of books is changing the way information is created, disseminated and displayed. Electronic book readers (e-readers) generally refer to two main display technologies: the electronic ink (E-ink) and the liquid crystal display (LCD). Both technologies have advantages and disadvantages, but the question whether one or the other triggers less visual fatigue is still open. The aim of the present research was to study the effects of the display technology on visual fatigue. To this end, participants performed a longitudinal study in which two last generation e-readers (LCD, E-ink) and paper book were tested in three different prolonged reading sessions separated by--on average--ten days. Results from both objective (Blinks per second) and subjective (Visual Fatigue Scale) measures suggested that reading on the LCD (Kindle Fire HD) triggers higher visual fatigue with respect to both the E-ink (Kindle Paperwhite) and the paper book. The absence of differences between E-ink and paper suggests that, concerning visual fatigue, the E-ink is indeed very similar to the paper.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthenopia*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reading*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult

Grant support

The authors have no support or funding to report.