Kindle: The Dry Eye Friendly Zone

It was at Malaga airport where I first saw a poster advertising “Fifty Shades of Grey” (in Spanish) and vaguely recalled hearing some mention of this book being a best-seller but had missed the details and reviews.

Fifty Shades Of Let-Down

In my naivety, I thought that the “grey” of the title referred to ageing hair colour from where I made the mental leap that the book’s theme was an empowering story of awakening for “women-of-a-certain-age”. While not ashamed to be in that category, I didn’t feel exactly thrilled to advertise the fact so blatantly in public and so decided that this would be an ideal first book to download on my Kindle.

As more of us jump on the Shades of Grey, literary bandwagon, the book’s popularity shows no sign of abating. Having broken the “fastest selling book since records began” (beating both Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books), it has also become an electronic book (e-book) sensation among more discreet readers who – due to its risqué content – would not be happy to be seen with a printed copy in cafes, trains or on the beach. I, however, made it only as far as Chapter 9 or 25% before giving up. If you have made it even as far as the first few chapters, perhaps like me you are in a state of puzzlement as to how this poorly written “summer sensation” ever made it beyond the publisher’s desk in the first place; let alone became the fastest-selling paperback (and e-book) of all time.

So How Was My First Foray Into The Sensation Of Reading An E-Book?

Putting aside the unfortunate first choice of reading material; I have become a fan of my compact travelling companion. I like the fact that it is discreet and anonymous to use in public places. I enjoy the privacy and convenience it offers while travelling – no more cheery, but unwelcome interruptions from strangers who might have read the same book and want to talk about it.

It is believed that when we use electronic devices such as iPads, smartphones or computers, the mind focuses so strongly on the screen that we “forget” to blink, resulting in millions of us developing dry eyes. Normally, we blink 12 to 15 times a minute and this habit helps regulate the eye’s lubrication system. When we are concentrating on a screen, we might blink only 7 or 8 times a minute leaving the tear film not working effective as it should. While an estimated 30% of those over 50 suffer from the resulting gritty, itchy and inflamed eyes, the numbers are rising with many more young people affected. Soft contact lens wearers are especially at risk and modern offices with computers and air conditioning are said to make the situation worse.

However, Kindles have not received the negative press of these electronic devices that have been blamed for turning young eyes old before their time. It is easy to use and clear to read – even in sunshine. Unlike a computer screen, it also doesn’t feel tiring to read from it, nor does it appear to aggravate my dry eye condition as I find myself blinking more as I turn to the next page.

Dry Eye Remedies When Reading

If you are victim to dry eye after reading on your electronic device, here are a few suggestions you could implement into your reading routine:

  • Use artificial tears – clinical trials show that tear substitutes can remedy the problem by stabilising the tear film within two to three months;
  • DIY measure – have a quick screen break to relax your eyes and focus;
  • Consciously remember to blink more (Tip: try to blink as you turn the page);
  • Change the focus of the eye by looking into the distance at regular intervals.

I must admit, the latter option is my current favourite as I am fortunate enough to be writing this post in a room with a view of a beautiful sub-tropical garden and swimming pool with an immaculate golf course in the distance.

Things are definitely looking up!