Current Developments in Brain Injury and Low Vision Rehabilitation

Posted on April 21, 2022

The visual ability deeply conditions the quality of life in low-vision patients. Increased depression, need for caregiver assistance, and domestic injury rates can be expected due to low performance.

Loss of vision has a negative impact on the quality of a patient’s life, with an increased need for caregiver assistance, high rates of depression, and the threat of multiple falls. Studies indicate that approximately one-third of older patients with low vision experience clinically significant symptoms of depression. 

For this reason, efforts have recently been devoted to developing new tools and aids for low vision rehabilitation, leading to an enhanced knowledge of visual tasks and greater chances of newer therapies later on.

Modern low vision rehabilitation will become extremely important in the upcoming years as the world’s population continues to age. Here are some recent scientific developments in low vision rehabilitation and the details, principles, and outcomes of evolving technology.

Upgraded digital technology helps low vision rehabilitation

The Study from the Wilmer Eye Institute stated that 64% of patients affected by low vision reported difficulty with reading as their main impairment. Therefore, many low vision experts have suggested using electronic books as possible aids. Smartphones, tablets, and electronic books have become widely available to the general population in the last five years. 

These devices can considerably help people with impaired vision due to the greater contrast and brighter background of these devices’ screens. This is supported by a study of 27 patients who read faster on an Apple iPad with larger text than on paper.

Further, several apps are designed for patients suffering from low vision. The TapTapSee13 and VizWiz14 are apps employed to take images of things and provide an audio depiction of the pictures taken. To allow patients to magnify and intensify the contrast between text and pictures, The Optelec Magnifier app15 was developed.

The MD_evReader app was developed to assist patients with age-related macular degeneration. This app lets dynamic text presentation by presenting one line of text at a time, reducing the need for eye movements. This app also allows a visible marker to be placed on the screen to help the low vision reader maintain their place within the text. 

New techniques are known as “vision multiplexing” are developed to aid people suffering from tunnel vision and loss of central vision. These devices increase the field of vision by employing a display mounted on the head. The patient can see through the screen, which increases the portion of space perceived. Thus, people with tunnel vision are helped by adding an image of the surrounding area on the head-up display to maintain central resolution while exploring the remaining visual field.

The head-mounted display can also aid people with impairment of central vision by magnifying the contrast on the screen; these include The Low Vision Enhancement System, 21 Jordy, Flipperport, and NuVision. However, although these head-mounted display devices can improve the patient’s visual acuity, they are not suitable for use with mobile because the enlarged image makes it difficult to walk while the device is worn. 

Google Glass is the latest progress in the field of wearable head-mounted display systems. It is a small computer-mounted “wide-angle camera” on a frame with a tight see-through display that looks like spectacles and works as an audio describer and a telescope.

Future options available include smartphone apps based on audio systems with an automatized face recognition system and haptic icons on touchscreens and visionless patients. The main hindrances to the use of such devices currently are their high cost and limited knowledge of how useful these devices could be for patients. However, the number of new promising technological solutions in this field will increase in the near future.