iPad vs. Kindle: Which Is Better for Your Eyes

While doing this series of editorials about transitioning to reading on my iPad, I got to wondering what the research has shown about the effects of reading on an LCD screen like the iPad’s versus reading on an E-Ink screen like the Kindle’s. Have I been burning irreparable holes in my retinas while burning the midnight oil reading my iPad in bed? It turns out, according to a February New York Times Bits blog post, that I have not, or if I have, it’s not simply because of the LCD screen.

According to the post, both E-Ink and LCD offer advantages depending on one’s reading environment. Michael Bove, director of the Consumer Electronics Laboratory at the M.I.T. Media Lab, told the NYT “Right now E-Ink is great in sunlight, but in certain situations, a piece of paper can be a better display than E Ink, and in dim light, an LCD display can be better than all of these technologies.”

Professor Alan Hedge of Cornell goes on to explain to The Times that eye strain is really caused by the 10,000 muscle movements an hour it takes our eyes to read, no matter what one is reading, so the best thing to do is take a break every 20 minutes.

So the risk of eye strain shouldn’t influence your eReader buying decisions. It’s up to you–not Apple or Amazon–to keep your eyes in good reading shape.