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“Phones are bad for your eyes,” we’ve always been told. Reading was often promoted as an acceptable alternative to being on one’s phone all day. As time passed, the screens got bigger, and we got the iPad, which is one of the most used devices for reading books. So is it a net positive or negative for your eyesight?
Reading on iPad is bad for eyes if the reader binges books for consecutive hours. An e-Reader is better for long reads. The iPad is acceptable and even optimal for short-term reads as it feels natural, has a big screen, and is compatible with most ebook marketplaces, including the Kindle ecosystem.
This article is your definitive guide to ebook reading and the iPad. Here you will learn the different drawbacks of reading on an iPad and what you can do to offset them. You’ll also find out how an iPad compares to an e-reader and physical books.
But first, let’s dive deeper into why the iPad can be a bad reading device.
Is it Bad for Your Eyes to Read on an iPad?
On average, it is not bad for your eyes to read on an iPad. But if you read for extended periods or outdoors, then the iPad screen isn’t the best medium for reading as it can lead to dry eyes, irritation, and vision fatigue. Do not read for more than an hour on an iPad.
Negative Effects of Reading on an iPad
When the Kindle e-reader was launched, tablet computers were widely available. Still, the first popular e-ink reader (and the second one to come to market) flew off the shelves and was completely out of stock in under 6 hours. Why? Because tablets like the iPad aren’t the best e-readers. Here’s why.
1. An iPad is Distracting
Book readers love to focus on a book for an extended period. iPads aren’t designed to facilitate focused reading. From push notifications to banner prompts, plenty of things can disrupt your reading experience.
So many apps are a fingertip away that you might not get your reading done as intended. If you’ve been trying to read ebooks and have noticed your pace to be slower compared to a physical book, then the digital environment of your device is at fault.
2. iPad Screens Have Glare
Unless you read in the evenings and indoors, you’ll not find an iPad very useful. Sunshine doesn’t reflect off of an iPad screen the way it does of digital paper. As a result, iPad screens have glare which can hurt your eyes and prevent you from reading.
One of the best things about e-readers like Kindle is that you can take them outside and read your ebooks just like you read physical books outdoors. Many book lovers make it a ritual to enjoy their favorite reads while basking in the sunlight. The iPad makes that impossible.
3. iPads Have Blue Light
Remember when we discussed reading in the evenings and indoors? While the iPad can facilitate such reading, it is also a poor choice for that type of reading. Evening readers usually read to relax.
The blue light that comes from tablet screens and smartphones keeps us alert, making it easier to be stressed and harder to relax.
The iPad’s blue light can reduce sleepiness, which isn’t ideal for your circadian rhythm (biological sleep clock). If you read at bedtime, the iPad should not even be a medium worth considering.
4. Reading on iPad Leads to Neck Pain
Reading on a tablet can be bad for your neck because you’re in a specific position for a long period. This disadvantage isn’t exclusive to iPads, though, as e-readers can have a similar adverse effect.
The difference is emphasized with the iPad because it weighs more than the eReader, which leads to less flexibility in reading position.
5. The iPad Sends Wrong Social Signals
An iPad’s social standing is a Russian Nesting Doll of negative effects as it leads to multiple problems. First of all, people assume that you’re not engaged in serious work when you’re on your iPad.
If you plug in earphones to listen to white noise or music while you read, people will assume you’re watching Youtube videos.
If you don’t care about others’ opinions, this isn’t a problem. But when people assume you’re engaged in a low-value activity, they will feel at ease interrupting you. They’re more likely to interrupt your reading experience if you’re on a dedicated eReader.
Another problem associated with how an iPad is viewed as theft. Because Apple devices have mass appeal, they’re likely to attract negative attention. An iPad is also more expensive than a Kindle reader, which makes it riskier to carry.
Despite being technically portable, an iPad cannot be taken anywhere without care the same way a Kindle reader can be. People who binge books aren’t the type that steals anyway.
6. iPad Exposure Can Strain Your Eyes
Finally, the most significant negative consequence of reading on an iPad is eye strain. With constant exposure to backlight and a lower blinking rate, your eyes can get watery or dry. Aside from temporary irritation, you can incur long-term vision damage.
This applies for extended reading, though, so there’s no need to be alarmed if you read up to one hour a day on your iPad. Still, you must do your best to avoid eye strain while reading on a tablet.
How to Avoid Eye Strain While Reading on an iPad?
To avoid eye strain while reading on an iPad, you have to consciously offset the low blink rate that comes with staring at a screen. You should also avoid a high-glare environment.
Extreme brightness settings are also bad for your eyes. If the iPad’s screen is too bright, it will bombard your eyeballs with too much blue light. Low brightness will cause fatigue. Setting the brightness to a regular level and using blue light filtering shades alongside a better blink rate can help avoid eye strain while reading on an iPad for up to two hours.
If you want to read for longer periods, schedule breaks every half an hour and look at greenery. In case there’s no natural greenery around, looking away from the tablet screen can also help.
The green color is easier on the eyes, but the more important part of the advice is to get away from the screen for at least five minutes every thirty seconds. This can be annoying if you like to immerse yourself in a book.
Is an e-Reader Better Than an iPad for Reading?
An e-reader is better than an iPad for reading at length, while an iPad is better for shorter reads. Devices like the Amazon Kindle facilitate immersive reading, while an iPad makes reading more accessible to the casual reader.
Are Physical Books Better Than Reading on an iPad?
Reading on paper helps retention and focus, but a physical book isn’t always as great as it is romanticized to be. A significant amount of reading happens on tablets because people find it more convenient to read on an iPad.
Physical books are better than an iPad for reading specific books at length, while the iPad is better for reading a diverse range of books at a short length.
Physical book purists dismiss the benefit of accessibility and affordability that an iPad provides. While reading a physical book is better for one’s eyesight, it is perfectly acceptable to read on an iPad if you don’t want to deal with the acquisition, storing, and bookmarking of a physical book.
An iPad allows you to save copies of your book on the cloud, pick up where you last left, and find new books via different platforms’ discover features. In the final analysis, iPads are more important to the propagation of books, while physical books remain essential for their classic appeal.
About the Author
Akansha is a former business journalist and a seasoned communications professional. She is the founder of TheBookBuff, an avid storyteller, and a lifelong biblophile! Check out her profile page to know more about Akansha.