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Reading in the presence of macular disease: a mini‐review

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Reading is vital to full participation in modern society. To millions of people suffering from macular disease that results in a central scotoma, reading is difficult and inefficient, rendering reading as the primary goal for most patients seeking low vision rehabilitation. The goals of this review paper are to summarize the dependence of reading speed on several key visual and typographical factors and the current methods or technologies for improving reading performance for people with macular disease.

Important findings

In general, reading speed for people with macular disease depends on print size, text contrast, size of the visual span, temporal processing of letters and oculomotor control. Attempts at improving reading speed by reducing the crowding effect between letters, words or lines; or optimizing properties of typeface such as the presence of serifs or stroke-width thickness proved to be futile, with any improvement being modest at best. Currently, the most promising method to improve reading speed for people with macular disease is training, including perceptual learning or oculomotor training.


The limitation on reading speed for people with macular disease is likely to be multi-factorial. Future studies should try to understand how different factors interact to limit reading speed, and whether different methods could be combined to produce a much greater benefit.

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