IALVS is your network for specialized technologies to enhance life with low vision
The number of people afflicted with low vision has grown and unfortunately, continues to grow. Yet fortunately, so has the number of technologies designed expressly to help people with low vision. And IALVS is proud to be your leading resource for all of these high-tech devices.
From start-ups to established names in the high-tech industry, many companies are exploiting the latest advances in mobile and imaging technology to enhance the lives of people with low vision.
Low vision, defined as having a significant visual impairment that cannot be corrected fully by any vision treatment (such as prescription eyewear, surgery, or medication), can be caused by various problems. Common ocular diseases that lead to low vision include glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetic retinopathy. In addition, brain injury caused by stroke, trauma, or a tumor can result in a loss of sight in your visual field.
Regardless of the cause of low vision, reduced eyesight affects people’s ability to perform and enjoy many everyday tasks, such as reading, driving, cooking, or watching TV. Sadly, too many of these patients walk out of their eye doctor’s offices believing that there is no way to improve their quality of life with low vision. The IALVS strongly disagrees!
The right light can improve vision
When vision is compromised, the right lighting conditions can make a huge difference in improving function when performing many different tasks. Often, people with low vision ask us for recommendations about the absolute best type of lamp and lighting to use. In response, there is no single answer to that question. Everyone should use the lighting that works well for their needs. Our IALVS experts offer the following tips to help people select the most helpful, individualized lighting:
- To improve contrast sensitivity (a common problem when dealing with low vision), choose lighting from the wide range of advanced LED illumination systems available. LED systems are ideal, as they can enhance contrast by correcting for various wavelengths, color perception, and brightness. Many LED systems are also dimmable to relieve eye strain.
- Lamps with an adjustable fixture are essential, as they can be positioned close to and aimed directly on tasks in order to increase visibility and reduce glare. In particular, swivel lamps work well because they can be raised or lowered easily. Also, if one eye is better than the other, place the lamp on that side of your body, and move it so there are no shadows cast on the page in front of you.
- Under-cabinet lighting is effective for cooking in the kitchen
- Install extra lighting in hallways and on staircases to promote a higher level of safety in areas in which it is difficult to move around
Optics to optimize your sight
IALVS low vision doctors are knowledgeable about the extensive selection of optically-based, popular low vision aids now on the market. We will match you with the most helpful devices to restore your independence by maximizing your remaining vision. In addition to fitting you with the ideal low vision aids for your lifestyle, we also provide high-level training to each individual on how to take full advantage of each device and use it properly.
- Telescopes: Bioptic Telescopic Glasses, Full-diameter Telescopes, Telemicroscope Glasses
- Specialized glasses: E-scoop Glasses, Prismatic Reading Glasses, Side-vision Awareness Glasses, Absorptive Lenses (worn on top of prescription eyewear)
- Magnifiers: Digital/Video, handheld, and stand
Technology that focuses on vision
Many new electronic and computerized technologies function as powerful tools for people who are visually impaired. If you or a loved one has low vision, a qualified low vision optometrist in the IALVS network can match you with the most helpful high-tech devices and programs to upgrade your vision and your life. Our eye doctors will introduce you to breakthrough low vision technologies, such as the following:
IrisVision applies the latest mobile virtual reality to help people with low vision. This FDA-registered visual aid uses the Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphone, the Gear VR, a lightweight headset, and custom-designed software to enable people with reduced vision to do a wide variety of tasks. Unlike many other low vision devices, its benefits are not limited to specific tasks, but can be used indoors and outdoors for diverse activities, including shopping, reading, watching TV, and observing nearby objects. Whatever the user sees appears like it is on a magnified big-screen TV.
OrCam is a cutting-edge low vision technology that consists of a small computer attached to a mini-camera that is clipped magnetically to eyeglasses. An ultra-thin cable links the camera to the computer, which fits conveniently into the wearer’s pocket. To use this device, the wearer needs to point to text, a person’s face, or an object, and OrCam will identify it. Then, OrCam will say the words or person’s name or object aloud, and the sounds are transmitted directly to the inner ear. Described as a high-tech aid that enables people with low vision to read and see “in the wild”, OrCam can recognize an unlimited variety of objects, no matter where they are. That includes faces, changing traffic lights, magazine articles, bus numbers, etc… The potential of OrCam to increase quality of life for someone is low vision is tremendous.
Be My Eyes
People with low vision often require assistance with small tasks that others take for granted. Such as whether your clothes match, how much money is on the table, or are you opening a bag of crackers or pretzels? Be My Eyes offers an ideal solution. By using a live video call and the camera of a phone, the person with low vision communicates directly with a volunteer who commandeers the camera to see the object in question. Basically, sighted volunteers lend their eyes to helping people with reduced vision.
This user-friendly app converts text to speech or Braille instantly and precisely. All that must be done is to snap a picture of any text (from packages to books to PDFs) and then listen to the words read aloud or turned into Braille. First released in 2014, originally for the iPhone and later for Android and Windows 10 devices, KNFB Reader provides constant access to anything printed; it is a simple, efficient tool for increasing independence.
Aira, an on-demand subscription service, offers “visual interpreters” to help guide people with low vision through complex daily tasks in real time. By wearing camera-equipped glasses that have a built-in wireless connection, the user can share what they see with a sighted person who describes their surroundings or assists them in performing a particular job.
ESight, a Toronto-based company, recently released the eSight 3, an enhanced version of its vision-assistance headset. The eSight technology, worn like normal eyeglasses, uses high-definition digital cameras and image-processing algorithms to capture and sharpen what the user sees. The improved picture is then displayed on two screens near the wearer’s eyes, enabling them to see fine or far-off details – all in real time. This revolutionary device can restore functional sight to people with low vision, helping them read, work, and view the faces of their friends and family with clarity. As hands-free wearable technology, eSight grants wide peripheral vision and genuine mobility.
Seeing AI was developed by Microsoft and blends a variety of artificial intelligence tools into one free app. This high-tech development uses AI to describe objects, people, and text to help people with low vision smoothly navigate all of their daily activities. All that needs to be done is to turn on the intelligent camera app, hold the phone up, and then listen to information about the surrounding world. Seeing AI turns the visual world into an audible experience.
TapTapSee, a mobile camera app, was developed specially for the visually impaired population. It uses a phone camera and VoiceOver functions to snap a picture or video of anything and then announce what it is. TapTapSee can quickly evaluate and identify any 2D or 3D object at any angle. The device then says the identification alloud. This app is available through the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
Designed to complement the cane, BuzzClip can also be used on its own by people with low vision who are seeking ways to make the most of their remaining sight. BuzzClip is a highly versatile and wearable mobility device, helping to reduce accidents and improve independence. It is a hands-free solution that can assist people with low vision to cross the street and safely maneuver around any obstacles in the way as they walk around. It uses intuitive vibrations to guide the wearer.
Learning Ally is an award-winning education solutions organization that can transform the lives of people with low vision who are in college, training for a future career, or simply engaged in continuous learning. The Learning Ally reading app provides access to an extensive library of human-read audiobooks.