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Reading on paper vs on screen

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by PatJ, Jan 7, 2016.

  1. PatJ

    PatJ far and free I gaze

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    allyann posted here about not being able to read books, but she can read on a screen.

    @allyann What happens when you try to read a book, or anything on paper?

    For almost a year I haven't been able to read anything on paper but I can read on screen (if the screen is dim, with light text on a dark background/high contrast).

    When I try to read something on paper I feel nauseous, get a headache, poor balance, difficulty speaking, jaw popping, irritability, fatigue and increased brain-fog. All symptoms can last for 24 hours. Symptom severity increases the longer I try to read but can arise just from reading a few paragraphs.

    The tipping point for not being able to read on paper was overdoing it last January. I read far more than usual over a period of three days. After that my ability to read on paper was "broken".

    The little that I've turned up in researching this problem hints at neurological kindling and some kind of partial seizure (maybe a type of reflex seizure.)

    From Wikipedia:
    "Kindling is a commonly used model for the development of seizures and epilepsy in which the duration and behavioral involvement of induced seizures increases after seizures are induced repeatedly."

    I've read elsewhere that CFS can reduce the seizure threshold. I'm wondering if reading too long on paper was inducing mild partial seizures that lead to fatigue. Reading for an extended period may have lead to a kindling reaction and hypersensitivity to reading on paper.

    I was once told that reading on screen involves more areas of the brain than reading on paper. Maybe these other areas of the brain are compensating for partial seizures and allowing for normal reading on screen? Or maybe it has something to do with Sensory Gating malfunctioning in a very specific way. (@Hip might have some insight here.)

    Can you read on screen but not on paper? Or maybe the opposite? What kind of reaction do you have?

    Here is a similar thread about fatigue when reading on screen vs. paper.
     
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  2. Effi

    Effi Senior Member

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    @PatJ interesting thread! I'm the same - reading on paper is impossible (with about the same symptoms as you're describing above), while reading on computer is slightly more doable (but concentration problems are the same, so can't read much anyway). I thought the difference was due to head/arm position when reading on paper, but your explanation actually makes a lot of sense. Looking forward to finding out more!
     
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  3. maryb

    maryb iherb code TAK122

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    My reactions to reading on paper are similar to yours, but I have problems in general with my eyes..I can't bear to watch anything moving on tv, like rolling cameras, cars etc, some of the directors drive me mad with the constant motion, it seems to have become really trendy ughh

    Also flashing lights...camera flashes, I feel it affects me in a way if I continued looking at them I would have a seizure. So it makes sense to me. How to fix it is the question. I haven't been able to read for some years now
     
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  4. PatJ

    PatJ far and free I gaze

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    I know that due to the speed of symptom onset when reading on paper, for me it has nothing to do with head position, eye-glasses prescription, chemical odors, gluten, phases of the moon... or any of the usual or unusual explanations. It's something going wrong in my brain.

    I should add that I can't tolerate a regular computer screen or TV for more than a few seconds before I start to feel ill and brain-fog increases rapidly. I rely on an old laptop with a screen that I can tolerate, set to a black background with white text. I have to avoid modern screens, especially LED based ones. Even LED Christmas lights cause problems for me.

    I'm hoping that the medication amilsulpride might help, as Hip has found that it seems to reduce what may be sensory gating problems.
     
  5. Effi

    Effi Senior Member

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    that is so interesting, I can't bear black background + white text for more than two seconds...
     
  6. PatJ

    PatJ far and free I gaze

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    How are you with a white background and black text? Or a low contrast color scheme (ie. gray on white)?

    I know that part of my problem is my brain's reaction to certain types of light. I think the black background works for me because it reduces the amount of light from the monitor.
     
  7. Effi

    Effi Senior Member

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    @PatJ for me the best is white background, black letters (also, not good with colored font), pretty low screen brightness. It also helps a lot if I have a reading lamp, not sure why.
     
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  8. Isabelle

    Isabelle

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    [QUOTE Can you read on screen but not on paper? Or maybe the opposite? What kind of reaction do you have? [/QUOTE]

    I have the opposite problem. I can read on paper, but really struggle to read on screen. Sometimes I can’t use the computer at all. Particularly when I’m in blackout mode.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2016
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  9. alicec

    alicec Senior Member

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    The opposite. If I need to read something complicated (relatively speaking - it's a long time since I've been able to read anything really complicated) I print it out and read away from the computer.

    I think the reading problem is primarily a sensory gating issue and what actual form it takes for any individual is a bit inexplicable. For me there seems to be an element of EMF sensitivity involved and I seem to recall reading that this might be a sensory gating problem also, though have no reference for this.

    For me maybe there is an element of OI involved also since I can do my best reading lying in bed.
     
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  10. Sidney

    Sidney Senior Member

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    I too far prefer paper to screen reading. While, I don't know if this is the case for others, the worst for me is movies: I have not been to a cinema for a year and a half, except one event I couldn't avoid, in which I passed out after half an hour. Strangely though, it's not so bad, just occasionally, looking at something unstressful (and not more than an hour long!) on my iPad in bed.
    Hypersensitivity affects everyone, I think, with slightly different triggers; but it must be the same phenomenon. (?)
     
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  11. Gingergrrl

    Gingergrrl Senior Member

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    Interesting topic and for me the best reading comprehension, especially of something new or scientific, is if I read on paper like I did old-school. On paper, I can highlight things with different color highlighter pens and write detailed notes to myself that I can remember and visually see vs. on my computer, the words do not stick as deeply in my memory for new material. Also on computer it is harder for me to go back and find things vs. on paper (but that is probably just me.)

    Reading itself is also easier on paper b/c there is usually only the words vs. on computer there are often ads that distract especially the flashing ones. Even though we set the computer to remove the ads, there are still some that we cannot get rid of. I have no issue with static things that do not move, but cannot tolerate flashing lights or things with moving parts which I avoid using books or articles with paper.

    The downside for me with books is that b/c of my prior arm injury and my breathing, even very lightweight books are difficult for me to hold or carry, so I prefer to sit at my desk and read computer so my arms and breathing are not affected.

    So I guess there are pluses and minuses to both!
     
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  12. allyann

    allyann Senior Member

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    @PatJ

    I have trouble reading and retaining written information on paper. For instance reading a newspaper article, I can get towards the end of the article and not understand whom they are talking about. My energy levels drop quicker reading books and I get confused and my body shuts down.

    If I need to read something like a document before it is signed, I need to have total silence with no one talking. It is like my brain has switched off its ability to multitask.

    For me this has been one of the more frustrating parts of this disease. I used to lecture in IT, program large systems and fix blue chip company systems when they broke down, so continual learning was necessary. Now I can not even recall easy computer commands like I used to.

    I still have the same problems when reading on the screen although I can read for longer on my iPad or Mac than I can on my Windows PC. I would say it has to do with the screens and the way things are laid out.

    Websites like the one mentioned in the other threads that are busy or have flashing ads can set off miagranes. I use the reading mode on websites quite often. I also use other accessibility features on my iPad and Mac.

    Interesting I can listen to audiobooks without issue. This gives me great relief as I listen to mindfulness for pain relief or pass some time listening to books.
     
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  13. PatJ

    PatJ far and free I gaze

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    I'm glad you mentioned that. I've found that since I have become mostly bedbound (due to OI), that I can use the computer longer before symptoms arise. LDN has increased my tolerance somewhat as well.
     
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  14. PatJ

    PatJ far and free I gaze

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    Before last January I used to do the same. I have a workgroup printer that I've used for years because I would print so much for reading. Highlighting and margin notes, lines, squiggles etc. for different meanings are very useful. I've also noticed that reading on paper (used to) allow information to sink in more deeply. Even when I was computer programming I would often print out code to review because I could think more clearly while looking at it on paper. I could also see more information by laying it out on multiple sheets. A large desk, printed information, and some pens and highlighters used to be a favorite way for me to work. The computer would be used later.

    I think it depends on how your mind works. I had a business partner who relied on file folders for projects but would sometimes mis-file papers and had to search through many folders to find them. I used stacks of papers that relied on visual cues (folded corners, a certain paper angle, differences in paper texture) and time (like geological strata) for organizing. Somehow I always knew where things were in the piles. My brain and memory worked so much better back then.

    With computer filing I tend to forget what has been filed. Search is helpful but I need to remember what to search for. :)
     
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  15. PatJ

    PatJ far and free I gaze

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    I remember reading that newer versions of Windows use a display configuration that is set to emit more blue light than other operating systems. This might be the reason why you can read more on non-Windows OSes. There is software available that can tweak the display to reduce the amount of blue light and reduce eye-strain. Something like f.lux will adjust the display throughout the day so that night-time reading involves far less blue light and doesn't disrupt sleep as much.
     
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  16. alicec

    alicec Senior Member

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    Or you could wear glasses which block blue light. There's a thread about it here.

    I never use the computer at night - far too stimulating even with blue light blockers but I can read or watch TV without affecting sleep as long as the room light is low and I wear the orange glasses.
     
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  17. Old Bones

    Old Bones Senior Member

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  18. Gingergrrl

    Gingergrrl Senior Member

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    All of my life I have been a visual learner and would never do well with audio books. I have to see the words on paper and highlight them and write notes and that is how the info sinks in more deeply like you said. When I help my daughter with homework, I need to read the assignment on old-school paper vs. her reading it out loud to me or me viewing it on her iPad or phone.

    My mind works better with regular paper and folders vs. filing things on the computer although I know how outdated this is and when we lost all our papers to mold, I realized what a mistake it was.
     
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  19. PatJ

    PatJ far and free I gaze

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    At one point when my visual hypersensitivity was so bad that I could barely tolerate a display, I tried to use text-to-speech software so I wouldn't have to look at the screen (this was before my audio hypersensitivity kicked in.) I quickly discovered that I use vision as a kind of short term memory. I was able to somewhat use the computer via TTS but it was very frustrating because I had to keep listening to text repeatedly in order to remember it.

    Viewing information usually allows us to work at our own pace, revisit sections, and understand one chunk of info before moving on to, or revisiting, another. When listening we don't have the same control or speed of revisiting past information.

    If you aren't working with large volumes of paper then it's possible to do it both ways. ie. work on paper, add highlights, notes etc. and then OCR the paper for backup and cataloging. Or start with content in the computer, print it for learning and then create a file in the computer to summarize any notes you've added to the paper. It's more work but you get the advantages of both worlds.
     
  20. loakley001

    loakley001

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    I have the opposite problem. I can read on paper, but really struggle to read on screen. Sometimes I can’t use the computer at all. Particularly when I’m in blackout mode.[/QUOTE]


    I also have issues reading in screens when I am not feeling well. My eyes go blurry and can't focus!!
     
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