Blink Rate and Incomplete Blinks in Six Different Controlled Hard-Copy and Electronic Reading Conditions

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2015 Oct;56(11):6679-85. doi: 10.1167/iovs.15-16967.


Purpose: To evaluate spontaneous eye blink rate (SEBR) and percentage of incomplete blinks in different hard-copy and visual display terminal (VDT) reading conditions, compared with baseline conditions.

Methods: A sample of 50 participants (29 females, age range, 18-74 years) were recruited for this study. All participants had good ocular health and reported no symptoms of dry eye (OSDI score < 15). Face video recordings were captured while participants observed in silence a landscape picture at 2 m (baseline) and during six different, 6-minute controlled reading experimental conditions. Texts were presented in electronic (tablet and computer display at 100% and 330% zoom levels) and hard-copy (text in book position in silence and aloud and text pasted on the computer display) formats. Video analysis was subsequently conducted to assess blink parameters.

Results: All reading conditions resulted in a decrease in SEBR when compared with baseline conditions (all P < 0.001), with the least negative impact corresponding to reading in a 330% expanded display. The percentage of incomplete blinks was found to increase when reading was conducted on an electronic platform, in contrast to hard-copy text.

Conclusions: The high cognitive demands associated with a reading task led to a reduction in SEBR, irrespective of type of reading platform. However, only electronic reading resulted in an increase in the percentage of incomplete blinks, which may account for the symptoms experienced by VDT users. Spanish Abstract.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blinking / physiology*
  • Cognition
  • Computer Terminals*
  • Computers, Handheld
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reading*
  • Video Recording
  • Young Adult