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Changes in blink rate and ocular symptoms during different reading tasks

Authors Abusharha AA

Received 27 May 2017

Accepted for publication 25 August 2017

Published 20 November 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 133—138

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/OPTO.S142718

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Mr Simon Berry


Ali A Abusharha

Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Background: Reading from tablets is fundamental to modern culture. This study measured differences in the blink rate and symptoms of ocular discomfort in healthy participants during reading from a tablet and a paper book.
Methods: Forty healthy, normal males subjects were recruited for this study. Subjects were video recorded during reading a text presented on an electronic device (9.7 inch tablet) and a hard copy format, for 15 min. Ocular discomfort experienced during reading was scored using a visual analog scale. Each participant was examined performing one of the two tasks (randomized) on one visit and the other on a separate visit (crossover design). All subjects were evaluated before the reading tasks and every 5 min during 15 min of reading.
Results: The mean ± standard deviation blink rate was 19.74 ± 9.12/min at baseline. The blink rate decreased significantly under both reading conditions (to 11.35 ± 10.20 and 14.93 ± 10.90/min when reading from a book and a tablet, respectively). There was no significant difference in the blink rate over 15 min during either type of reading. The mean discomfort symptom scores were 148 for the book and 134 for the tablet; both were significantly higher than baseline. A gradual increase in symptoms was found every 5 min during both types of reading.
Conclusion: The study confirmed that both the blink rate and ocular discomfort symptoms were strongly affected during performance of close visual tasks. Both reading conditions affected blinking; this may interfere with tear film dynamics. Such effects were reflected in the immediate development of ocular symptoms, which increased significantly during both types of reading.

Keywords: blink rate, tear film, reading tasks

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