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Are e-readers better than printed books?
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Printed books cause less eye strain than e-reader screens

Prolonged viewing of electronic screens tires the eye muscles, causing fatigue and excessive strain. Compared to physical books, they have a much greater impact on the reader's health in the long run.

The Argument

Reading books is one of the simple pleasures of life that individuals enjoy. However, nothing in this world is without its own set of problems. Those who tend to read a lot, both physical books and e-readers like Kindle, have to contend with ailments like eye fatigue and--in the long term--eye strain, which eventually affects one’s vision. The only question that arises in such a scenario is: Which is the lesser evil of the two? Studies have shown that prolonged viewing of electronic screens causes the muscles in the eyes to flex harder than usual in order to focus effectively on what is being projected.[1] This often results in Computer Vision Syndrome[2] with symptoms such as itchy eyes, headaches, dry/watering eyes, etc. While reading a book on an electronic device, an individual engrossed in the narrative may lose track of time and end up staring at the screen for hours together. It has also been seen that people tend to blink less when engrossed in a task, particularly involving staring at a screen, causing the eyes to dry out. This has a harmful impact on a person’s health in the long run. Individuals reading physical books, on the other hand, do not have to worry about the number of pixels on the page or the blue light that is otherwise emitted from electronic screens. This protects the eyes and reduces fatigue and strain considerably, allowing for a much more enjoyable reading experience.

Counter arguments

While physical books do not have the additional danger of blue lights that cause eye strain and fatigue, lighting is one of the major issues faced by readers with paperbacks. As the day progresses, the light available to an individual decreases steadily, causing the eyes to work harder to focus on the words on the page. Dim light results in less blinking and greater chances of the eye drying out. The font of physical books is usually small and cannot be changed. This, too, causes the eyes to strain resulting in fatigue, headaches and a general sense of tiredness. Some E-readers, like Kindle, are created with the technology known as e-ink[3] that resembles the appearance of ink on paper, reducing the impact of screen glare tremendously. Moreover, the font can be increased as per convenience, along with the brightness of the screen thus keeping in mind first and foremost the comfort of the readers.



[P1] Reading from an e-reader can cause eye strain, which you do not get from physical books.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Not all e-readers cause eye strain.


This page was last edited on Friday, 17 Jul 2020 at 19:47 UTC

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