All over the world there are about 246 million people with low vision. This sight loss impairs a person’s ability to do simple daily tasks.
Optical and electronic devices, such as hand-held magnifiers, telemicroscopic glasses and computer and video magnifiers can help. However, these devices often are bulky, cumbersome or not portable.
In a recent study, researchers from University of California, Davis design a unique wearable vision device that can help people who are legally blind “read” and recognize faces.
It may also help these individuals accomplish everyday tasks with significantly greater ease than using traditional assistive reading devices.
The finding has been presented at AAO 2016, the 120th annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
The new device is made with recent advancements in wearable electronic devices and optical character recognition technology that converts images to computer-readable text.
It features a miniature camera that sees and recognizes what the user is viewing, whether text or a face, and then reads what it is seeing to the user via a small bone-conduction earpiece.
The user can activate the device by simply pointing a finger to the object or text, tapping it or pressing a trigger button.
Researchers tested the wearable vision device on 12 legally blind people, who all had a visual acuity of less than 20/200.
In the study, participants performed a 10-item test simulating activities of daily life, including recognizing products and reading a variety of items such as emails, letters, newspapers, book and signs.
They earned 1 point for the successful completion of each item, and a zero for each not completed. The total possible score was 10.
The result showed that without wearing the device, the participants’ average score was 2.5 out of 10. But when they first tried the device, their average score improved to 9.5 out of 10.
After a week of wearing the device, the average score of participants improved to 9.8 out of 10.
In addition, 7 patients completed the test using other low-vision aids such as magnifying glasses, resulting in an average score of 6. When they switched to the portable device, their average score improved to 9.7.
Researchers suggest that the study is the first to evaluate the device in people with low vision. It establishes the efficacy and ease of use of the device.
In the future, studies should include more people with various levels of visual impairment to test the device.
News Source: Newswire.