(NBCNC) - Electronic tablets like the iPad may help improve reading ability for people with macular degeneration and similar vision problems.
"It doesn't make the blind see, but it just makes it more comfortable, gives a little edge," says Dr. Daniel Roth.
Dr. Roth, of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey, explains that the macula is the part of the eye we use when we look at something directly to read it.
With a damaged macula the world can look like a big hole in the field of vision.
Reading is extremely difficult.
"The patients would often complain that they don't have enough light and they would try and get better lighting in the room and try to get more light on the page," Dr. Roth says.
Because electronic tablets are back-lit the light comes directly from the source.
Users can increase the font size, and adjust the contrast and brightness to sharpen letters and images.
"The iPad had at least a 15 words per minute increased reading speed which is significant," Dr. Roth points out.
While using electronic devices too much may lead to tired eyes, many experts say there's no evidence that reading from screens can damage eyes further.
Patients in the study had reading success when the font size was increased from 12 to 18.