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Looking for a Gift for Someone with Low Vision - How about a Digital Tablet?

Do you have an older parent whose vision isn't quite what it used to be. A digital tablet might be the perfect Christmas gift this year.

This year you have an opportunity to return the joy of reading to a loved one with low vision. A study presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s 2012 Annual Meeting reportedly revealed that people who have eye diseases that damage their central vision can again read quickly and comfortably by using digital tablets. So if Mom or Dad haven't been able to do as much reading as they would like to in recent years, a digital tablet may be the perfect gift.

According to American Academy of Ophthalmology, on average, patients with moderate vision loss significantly increased their reading speed and comfort using an iPad™ digital tablet. The researchers think that other tablets that feature back-lit screens and font-enlargement capabilities would offer similar benefits. 

Millions of people with diseases such as macular degeneration  or diabetic retinopathy struggle with the loss of their central vision. These diseases reportedly damage the light-sensitive cells of the eye’s retina, which relays images to the optic nerve for transmission to the brain. When treatments like eyeglasses, medications, or surgery are no longer effective, ophthalmologists – eye medical doctors and surgeons – help patients make the most of their remaining sight by using low-vision aids. Before digital tablets came along, reading aids were limited to lighted magnifiers, which are cumbersome and inconvenient by comparison.

“Reading is a simple pleasure that we often take for granted until vision loss makes it difficult,” said Daniel Roth, M.D., who led of the study. “Our findings show that at a relatively low cost, digital tablets can improve the lives of people with vision loss and help them reconnect with the larger world.”

All of the 100 participants in the study, conducted at Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, gained at least 42 words-per-minute (WPM) when using the iPad set to 18-point font, compared with reading a print book or newspaper. People with the poorest vision showed the most improvement in speed when using an iPad or Kindle™, compared with print.

To see if you or a loved one age 65 and older qualifies for a no out-of-pocket cost eye exam, visit www.eyecareamerica.org. For more information on vision loss and visual aids, or other eye health topics, visit www.geteyesmart.org.

(Editor's Note: This was submitted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology)

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