Psychophysics of reading. XVIII. The effect of print size on reading speed in normal peripheral vision

Susana T.L. Chung, J. Stephen Mansfield, Gordon E. Legge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

198 Scopus citations

Abstract

Reading in peripheral vision is slow and requires large print, posing substantial difficulty for patients with central scotomata. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of print size on reading speed at different eccentricities in normal peripheral vision. We hypothesized that reading speeds should remain invariant with eccentricity, as long as the print is appropriately scaled in size - the scaling hypothesis. The scaling hypothesis predicts that log-log plots of reading speed versus print size exhibit the same shape at all eccentricities, but shift along the print-size axis. Six normal observers read aloud single sentences (~ 11 words in length) presented on a computer monitor, one word at a time, using rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP). We measured reading speeds (based on RSVP exposure durations yielding 80% correct) for eight print sizes at each of six retinal eccentricities, from 0 (foveal) to 20 deg in the inferior visual field. Consistent with the scaling hypothesis, plots of reading speed versus print size had the same shape at different eccentricities: reading speed increased with print size, up to a critical print size and was then constant at a maximum reading speed for larger print sizes. Also consistent with the scaling hypothesis, the plots shifted horizontally such that average values of the critical print size increased from 0.16 deg (fovea) to 2.22 deg (20 deg peripheral). Inconsistent with the scaling hypothesis, the plots also exhibited vertical shifts so that average values of the maximum reading speed decreased from 807 w.p.m. (fovea) to 135 w.p.m. (20 deg peripheral). Because the maximum reading speed is not invariant with eccentricity even when the print size was scaled, we reject the scaling hypothesis and conclude that print size is not the only factor limiting maximum reading speed in normal peripheral vision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2949-2962
Number of pages14
JournalVision Research
Volume38
Issue number19
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported in part by an Ezell Fellowship from the American Optometric Foundation to STLC, and a MERIT award R37-EY02934 from the National Eye Institute to GEL. We thank Dr. Harold Bedell for his technical advice and assistance regarding the Monte Carlo simulation used to determine the error bars in Fig. 3 .

Keywords

  • Low vision
  • Peripheral vision
  • Reading

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