The researchers used the Orcam My Eye for their study. The device is unique because it clips to glasses, making it hands-free. 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 activates the device by simply pointing a finger to the object or text, tapping it or pressing a trigger button.
Researchers tested the device on 12 legally blind people, who all had a visual acuity of less than 20/200. 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 one point for the successful completion of each item, and a zero for each not completed. The total possible score was 10. The researchers studied the participants at three stages. First, they observed the participants doing the tasks without the device, then while wearing it after receiving a 90- to 120-minute training session and finally after wearing the device for one week.
The researchers' findings were as follows:
- Without wearing the device, the participants' average score was 2.5 out of 10.
- 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.
- Seven of the 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.
"While there have been many advances in eye care, the options for assistance in completing daily tasks are limited and cumbersome," said Elad Moisseiev, M.D., a vitreoretinal surgeon who was the study lead at U.C. Davis, but is now with the Tel Aviv Medical Center, Israel. "This represents a new step in the evolution of assistance devices for people with low vision, giving them hope for improving their functionality, independence and quality of life."
The pilot study was the first to evaluate the device in people with low vision, establishing its efficacy and ease of use and demonstrating the achievement of statistically significant differences in test scores, said Dr. Moisseiev. He noted that additional studies should include more people, ideally stratifying them by level of visual impairment.
A Portable Artificial Vision Device is a Useful Aid for Patients with Low Vision was presented at AAO 2016, the 120th annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The event was held in conjunction with the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology Oct. 14-18 at McCormick Place, Chicago. Known as the place "Where all of Ophthalmology Meets®," the Academy's annual meeting is the world's largest conference for eye physicians and surgeons.
1 - www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs282/en/
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Statistics: Visual Impairment
- The WHO estimates that in 2012 there were 285 million visually impaired people in the world, of which 246 million had low vision and 39 million were blind. Of those who are blind 90% live in the developing world. Worldwide for each blind person, an average of 3.4 people have low vision, with country and regional variation ranging from 2.4 to 5.5.
- Visual impairment is unequally distributed across age groups. More than 82% of all people who are blind are 50 years of age and older, although they represent only 19% of the world's population. Due to the expected number of years lived in blindness (blind years), childhood blindness remains a significant problem, with an estimated 1.4 million blind children below age 15.
- More than 90% of the world's visually impaired live in developing countries.
- Studies indicate worldwide, and at all ages, females have a significantly higher risk of being visually impaired than males.
- In 1987, it was estimated that 598,000 people in the United States met the legal definition of blindness. Of this number, 58% were over the age of 65. In 1994--1995, 1.3 million Americans reported legal blindness.
- Since the estimates of the 1990s, new data based on the 2002 global population show a reduction in the number of people who are blind or visually impaired, and those who are blind from the effects of infectious diseases, but an increase in the number of people who are blind from conditions related to longer life spans.
- OrCam: Technology for the Visually Impaired - OrCam is a glasses-mounted camera that will read text, describe objects, and identify faces for the blind - Thomas C. Weiss
- Wearable Device to Guide Visually Impaired - Low-power chip processes 3-D camera data, could enable wearable device to guide the visually impaired - MIT
- Orcam Device Worn on Eyeglasses Assists People with Low Vision - Miniature camera using OCR technology mounted on eyeglasses improves ability to read for legally blind - UC Davis Health System
- Toyota Working on Wearable Mobility Device for Blind & Visually Impaired - Project BLAID device will help fill gaps left by canes, dogs and basic GPS devices by providing users with information about their surroundings - Toyota
- Sonar Glasses Obstacle Detection Device for Blind and Visually Impaired - Sonar Glasses mobility tool designed to increase safety and independence of blind and visually impaired, and to complement the white cane and guide dogs - Maggie McBride, Communications and Administrative Specialist G-Technology Group