Reading difficulties in glaucoma patients may inspire the development of e-reader apps. Research has shown that glaucoma patients read slower when reading silently for longer periods of time. Their reading speed is more likely to decrease over time due to reading fatigue.
Author of the study Pradeep Ramulu suggests that specific apps for e-readers may help glaucoma patients maintain their reading speed. He explained, “Right now, so many products are available for presenting reading material in a variety of formats. If the optimal format for reading in the context of glaucoma could be determined, it would be easy to create an application to present text in this manner as part of a commercial device such as an iPad or Kindle.”
The study involved two groups – one group with bilateral visual field glaucoma and the other was the control group. Both groups were evaluated using two out-loud reading tests (IReST and MNRead), a sustained silent reading test over a 30-minute period, and a comprehension evaluation corresponding to the sustained silent reading material.
The results showed the reading comprehension was lower in the glaucoma group, compared to the control. Ramulu added, “The ultimate goal is to be able to rehabilitate individuals with reading difficulties due to glaucoma. Our group and others are exploring possible reasons behind these impairments, including disruption of the tear film and aberrant eye movements. Understanding why people with glaucoma read slower and show reading fatigue will pave the way for solving these reading difficulties.”
A study of 63 glaucoma patients and 59 control patients with a diagnosis of glaucoma suspect completed 10 reading activities for assessing low vision. The participants were then evaluated with oral questionnaires, which were analyzed with the reading activity results.
Glaucoma patients were found to have a lower reading ability, compared to the controls, which was associated with greater visual field loss. They also reported greater difficulty in all reading activities except puzzles.
The researchers concluded that glaucoma patients have a lower reading ability and lower engagement, especially for tasks that require prolonged reading.
The authors noted, “While reading is a common complaint amongst glaucoma patients, only a small percentage of glaucoma patients are referred to rehabilitative services. One barrier to referrals may be the fact that physicians may not view glaucoma patients as requiring visual rehabilitation services, as they most often refer patients with central vision deficits. An additional barrier to referral may be that glaucoma patients do not often express severe reading difficulty to the extent that reading would be impossible. Finally, rehabilitative services, including efforts to enable reading, are primarily tailored to serve patients with central vision loss – not those with visual field loss.”
The authors concluded, “Additional work is necessary to define the best methods for enabling reading in patients with glaucoma, perhaps by creating proper lighting to optimize contrast and reduce glare, correcting aberrant eye movements, employing visual aids to enlarge text, and/or teaching strategies to mitigate fatigue.”