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Sandra's User Experience


One's eyes are amazing in the way they adapt and focus - you only realise how amazing when you have to make a few adjustments to help them along. I find with some text my eyes straining to adapt. I figured out that increasing the line spacing made reading better for me after I noted that several Wordpress blogs were easier to read, and my eyes and brain felt relaxed and engaged with what I was reading. To comfortably read text online, I need larger font, more line spacing, and a slightly reduced line length.

On this page:

My vision

Post cataract and ageing — I have just turned 60.

I was originally very short sighted (-10) and wore contact lenses for 30 years which gave me really good quality vision with better field of view than wearing glasses. Problems with my vision started around the age of 50, with double images on letters and greyed out words. Post cataract surgery I have implanted lens so prescription is relatively low (-2 and -1) but this is effectively a fixed focus. I now wear glasses with varifocal lenses - so that I get graded vision, distant at the top, median in the middle and near reading on the bottom edge. I am usually reading my computer screen with the middle vision section, rather than the bottom edge of the lens which is set too near for the screen.

Very small text is very difficult or impossible to read — I can feel my eyes straining to adapt. In addition I have some 'floaters' little cells that float around in the eye - common apparently among older short sighted people which cause little shadows to pass across the space I am looking at.

None of this is at a level that could in any way be classified as a disability - but some text configurations are a positive pleasure to read, some I have to work at, and some I just can't be bothered because I am having to work too hard.

Web use

When I am using websites I will increase font size using control+ to zoom one or two levels, but at the same time I want to keep the whole line on screen. On my wide screen it can end up way to wide, whereas on my laptop there is the risk of falling off the edge of the screen - I am not prepared to scroll left-right as it is too slow and difficult to track to the next line. I love websites offering fluid layout so that whether I am using my 13" laptop or using a big wide screen I get too choose my preferred line length by changing the window size and watching everything reflow. Basically - having increased the font size, I need to also reduce the line length back to where it was. There is a double trade-off between big enough to read comfortably vs width as well as depth of the reading area.

I have found that the text on some websites seems really dense. I like the larger bodied font like Arial but when you increase the text size the text density seems to also increase. Maybe the shadows from the floaters are also contributing to the problem and 'dimming' the white space between the lines.

Over time I noticed that some websites, notably many of those using Wordpress, were easier to read, and my eyes and brain felt relaxed and engaged with what I was reading. I eventually realised this was because the line spacing (line-height) was wider. At one point I found an accessibility toolbar that offered the option to increase line spacing and I used this to read content on screen - this was brilliant but it didn't work with my Mac and now I am back on pc but it hasn't been updated to my latest browser.

System settings

I mostly use my laptop with its default settings set to large text - because I want all the little messages, menus as well as content increased in size.

I accept the trade-off of having a smaller amount of content on screen when using my laptop because of convenience of being able to take a light weight laptop with me to different locations. I might get round to buying a big screen for home use sometime soon.