Electronic display devices hold the potential to improve access to written material by people with low vision. For those with central field loss, the optimal form of electronic text presentation may vary according to the location of the preferred retinal locus, but this has never been investigated. In this study, we examined the relationship between preferred retinal locus location and reading rate for four electronic display formats (rapid serial visual presentation, horizontal scroll, vertical scroll, and page).
Short sentences were presented in each format to 35 low-vision (most with central field loss) and 14 age-matched control subjects. Subjects read aloud to determine maximum oral reading rate and read silently to determine preferred silent reading rate.
With the exception of page format, maximum oral reading rates were faster than silent preferred reading rates for both groups of subjects. For the low-vision group, there was no significant difference in maximum oral reading rates between the four display formats; and when reading at a preferred silent rate, page format was faster than the other three formats. Though page format was read more quickly, half of the low-vision subjects preferred the horizontal-scroll format. Contrary to our predictions, there was no significant effect of preferred retinal locus location (vertical vs. lateral) on reading rate and no significant interaction between preferred retinal locus location and display format.
The differences between maximum oral and preferred silent reading rates and the lack of a relationship between reading rates and preferred display format reinforce the importance of patient preference in the evaluation and selection of a device or display format during rehabilitation.