Researchers led by Dr Eli Peli at the Schepens Eye Research Institute, (a Harvard Medical School affiliate) have produced a vision aid system that superimposes parts of their outer field of view onto the center of their vision. More from the press release…
Peli’s new visual aid – which he developed with the help of MicroOptical Corp. of Westwood, MA- allows the patients to see detailed visual information through the transparent display, while also viewing a superimposed minified outline version of a wider visual field. The tiny computer-video system provides updated outline information 30 times per second. When a patient becomes aware of a possible obstacle or important object in the superimposed outline image, he can move his head and eyes to look directly at the object through the display.
The purpose of the current study was to evaluate how effective the device would be in helping people with tunnel vision when searching for objects. Twelve patients with tunnel vision were asked to find targets that were projected outside their residual visual fields. The researchers found that the search directness was greatly improved for all patients when the device was used. They also found a significant reduction in search time (22%) in patients with a visual field wider than 10 [degrees].
Peli and his team believe that the performances of patients could be improved further -with additional training – even for those with smaller visual fields. “All patients only had an hour of training on this device before they were tested,” says Luo “The search directness was improved for all subjects, which means they were not searching aimlessly, as they did without the device. However, the speed of head and eye movements was reduced when patients used the yet unfamiliar device. We believe that a few days of training would improve their speed and thus increase their search abilities dramatically.”
Based on these results, and following further improvement of the device, the team will test the usefulness of the device by providing it to patients for use in their homes and for outdoor activities.
The press release is even so kind as to link directly to the abstract for the article it’s covering in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. For examples on how to poorly cover science, see our previous work (…that is, on pointing out bad coverage, not executing it).
Also: MicroOptical Corp, who worked on the more gadgety side of things.