People with problems in their vision may want to purchase an iPad now, as a new study found that the device may help people see better.

Experts estimate that the bulk of elderly people with age-related vision loss is about one in three adults over 50 years old and above. In Canada, particularly, that translates to about 3.6 million people.

People with difficulty in their vision commonly use adaptive tools to help magnify objects and text as they use and read them respectively. However, the problem is, these specialized devices are quite expensive, heavy and serve no other purpose but to enlarge materials.

Now, researchers from Concordia University in Montreal found a possibly better way to deal with vision loss among these population - Apple iPads. These tablets are cheaper, more multi-functional and definitely smaller than traditional magnifying devices. The best part is, it is as effective as traditional visual aid tools, yet not as as overwhelming as robotic gloves, in helping people see better.

Weighing The Effects Of iPads On Vision

The study involved 100 subjects aged between 24 and 97 years old. Nearly more than half of the participants have been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration, which derails people's detailed visual tasks such as reading.

The participants completed questionnaires and underwent some tests so that the researchers will be able to determine their visual ability.

Study first author Elliott Morrice says majority of the subjects found it hard to read small and medium-sized text, while nearly a quarter of them reported that they found reading larger text much easier - a finding that is not surprising at all.

Next, the scientists compared how using iPads and traditional magnifying devices vary. They particularly wanted to find out if there would be a discrepancy between the participants' reading rates when using the two different tools.

Such experiment yielded a much more interesting result as the researchers were not able to note significant differences between using an iPad and using a traditional visual aid device such as a closed circuit television system (CCTV).

Another interesting finding is that when the team looked into the participants' past experiences, they found that people who have been using iPads before can read 30 words per minute faster than those who have just used iPads for the first time. However, there were no notable differences between the results of people who have been using and who have just used a CCTV for the first time.

Erasing Stigma

The results of the study may not only serve as good news for people with vision problems. It may also pave the way for patients to live without the stigma associated with using large, old-fashioned and unpopular magnifying devices that suggest disability or impairment.

"Tablet computers offer many of the same benefits while being socially acceptable," says senior author Aaron Johnson.

With iPads, elderly people with vision problems may also take advantage of the many different things they can do with the touchscreen device. They can check emails, engage in social media and make video calls - all these and more for a relatively cheaper price than traditional visual aids.

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