Age-related losses of visual function erode performance on many daily tasks, including reading. This research sought to 1) determine if age differences in the legibility and readability of small print vary with font characteristics, and 2) to determine the degree to which legibility and readability are related to acuity and/or contrast sensitivity. The legibility and readability of passages printed in four serif and four sans serif fonts were established for healthy young and elderly readers. Legibility thresholds were elevated among elderly readers, but there was no overall age effect on reading time or distance. Age differences on reading time varied significantly with font. Relationships between reading time and other reading measures were in the opposite direction for young versus elderly readers. Legibility was strongly predicted by acuity and less well by contrast sensitivity; readability was related to neither measure. Recommendations regarding font selection are provided and future research directions discussed.

This page last updated June, 1998 by: Kevin Connolly - <gkconnol@acs.ucalgary.ca>