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Spacing May Improve Reading for Macular Degeneration Patients

Published Online: Friday, January 17, 2014   [ Request Print ]

Macular degeneration patients often have trouble reading, but a new study finds that double line spacing and double word spacing may make reading easier for these patients.

Previous research has found that visual crowding may be a major contributing factor to the reading problems that patients with macular degeneration face. The study, published online on November 11, 2013, in PLOS One, evaluated the effects of line spacing and word spacing on reading speed and accuracy in patients with age-related macular degeneration. Participants read short passages printed in low-contrast and high-contrast text with varying line and word spacing.

Participants read the fastest with the fewest mistakes when reading text with both double line and double word spacing. When words and lines were double spaced, reading speed increased by 26% with high-contrast text and 46% with low-contrast text compared with normal-spaced text. Double line and word spacing also more than halved the number of reading errors compared with single-spaced text. The results indicate that visual crowding renders reading difficult for macular degeneration patients, especially with low-contrast text.

“We recommend that macular disease patients should employ double line spacing and double-character word spacing to maximize their reading efficiency,” the authors suggest.




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