Wearable Technology for the Visually Impaired

There are many devices and apps that help those with low vision such as handheld magnifiers, apps for smart phones & tablets that magnify what the camera sees, devices & apps that convert text to speech, CCTVs, apps & devices for object identification and more.  There are advantages and disadvantages to these which depend on the needs of the person.

One of the newest advances in technology is the hands free also called head worn devices or wearable technology.  You’ll hear them called: smart glasses,  low vision headsets or goggles.  Some of the technology is referred to as AugmentedReality (AR).

This page will talk about the ones that are currently available: eSight, OrCam, NuEyes and SightPlus. I’ve included IrisVision which will be available soon. There are currently a few smart phone apps for magnification that you can use in a Google Cardboard headset.

Disclaimer:  these are the features and costs as of today (July 5, 2017).  As the technology changes, so will the features & costs so check with the distributors for up-to-date information.


The information in this table is subject to change with changes in functions, available and price.

** photo with table

Availability & where to Get More Information
  • OrCam: http://www.orcam.com/
    • availability: a representative of the company told me “We are available in many countries and expanding all the time – here are the languages we currently have available: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Hebrew.”
    • extensively used & reviewed by Blind Motherhood blogger: click here
  • eSight: https://www.esighteyewear.com/
    • available in 33 countries; click here for exact ones.
    • headset over eyeglass frame
  • NuEyes:  https://nueyes.com/
    • available Australia, Canada, Denmark, Farce Island, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Scandinavia, Sweden, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States, China
  • Cyber Eyez: http://www.cybertimez.com/
    • mounted on eyeglasses frame (not included)
    • availability: sent msg
  • SightPlus:  http://www.givevision.net/
    • goggles
    • UK only
  • OxSight:  http://smartspecs.co/
    • availability:
    • may be called Smart Eye http://medgizmo.info/news/medgizmo-update-wearable-technology-for-visually-impaired-august-2016
    • http://www.caroncares.co.uk/optical-health/restoring-sight-give-vision/
    • https://www.rnib.org.uk/smart-glasses
  • IrisVision: http://theirisvision.com/
    • goggles
    • not sure when it will be available or where; I’ve requested information
    • http://abc7chicago.com/health/new-iris-vision-technology-aims-to-help-visually-impaired/2114456/
    • https://www.benzinga.com/pressreleases/17/07/p9852046/irisvision-a-new-product-for-the-visually-impaired-available-at-florida
  • Google Cardboard & smart phone apps: https://www.reddit.com/r/Blind/comments/5o5lci/use_your_phone_and_a_google_cardboard_as_a_low/

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Highlight: How can we protect our eyes indoors?

I accidentally published this but it’s not done yet!
 ** under construction **

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Lighting

Artificial lighting is used to simulate the light of the sun indoors.  We need proper lighting not only for vision tasks but for safety.  When the macula is damaged by AMD, not only do we lose our visual acuity but also our ability to process glare and contrast. The range of light made available varies quite a bit, each type with its own benefits and risks (sometimes these are based on scientific research, sometimes opinion & experience). The brightness & type of light is important.  These are the most common types of lighting you can get –  there are others that you’ll see in the links provided below:

  • Full spectrum: You get the entire spectrum just like you do with the sun (infrared, visible, non-visible). This type of lighting is used to grow plants indoors (grow lights) but also to sew and do crafts. It enhances color & contrast but it includes the harmful UVA, UVB and blue light.
  • Incandescent: the most common form of light bulb which provides a yellower, more direct light that is good for close work, like sewing or reading.  There is some blue light emitted.
  • Halogen: produces the brightest and whitest light. For some people with low vision, it can enhance contrast between print and background, but for others they generate too much glare. It also generates a lot of heat.
  • LED (Liquid Electrical Display): The newest form of lighting.  The quality of light provided is excellent, the color of the light is not damaging to the eyes (has no UV rays), the bulbs are long-lasting (eg, with 8 hours a day, an LED light could last 14 years) and there are no hot lamp surfaces or bulbs. They do, however, emit blue light.  For that reason, some people do not use them.  
  • Fluorescent : casts blue-white light evenly and without shadows over a wide area. Because it generates a lot of light without using a lot of electricity, it is the type of lighting most often used in public places, such as supermarkets or offices. But it can create increased glare.

Here are some links to helpful sources regarding indoor lighting.

Lens Coatings/screen protectors to filter out harmful rays

Not only do we have to protect our eyes outdoors but also indoors.   We’ve talked about the type of light that can be made available but there are two more considerations:

  • what if you can’t control the lighting in your environment, eg, you work where there are flourescent lighting that causes glare or full spectrum light which emits blue light?
  • We are getting harmful blue light from our computers, tablets, cell phones, TVs, etc.

glasses

https://www.lowbluelights.com/index.asp

Not all amber lens filter blue light

http://www.cocoonseyewear.com/sunwear/category.php?id=53

https://www.paleohacks.com/sleep/will-plain-red-or-orange-lenses-block-blue-light-for-sleep-17104

 

 

 

 

Is blue light keeping you up at night? We ask the experts

AM and PM lights for sleep/wake

http://pressroom.gelighting.com/news/ge-redefines-lighting-with-ge-alignTM-lighting-aiding-natural-sleep-cycle#.VvlH6OIrLIU

 

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA401620/Do-Orange-Glasses-Block-Blue-Light.html

 

 

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Highlight: What about stem cell research?

** under construction **

under_construction (3)

This is a very promising but complicated subject.

 

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Highlight: How do I pay for treatments?

** under construction **

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Some injections and other treatments are expensive and not always covered by insurance.  Here is a list of Patience Assistance Resources from the American Society of Retina Specialists.

Click here to see their list of Patience Assistance Resources

US Medicare & Medicaid coverage

coming soon!

US Other insurances

coming soon!

UK National Health System (NHS)

coming soon!

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Highlight: What about the accessibility features of Apple products?

** Under construction **

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http://www.applevis.com/

http://iaccessibility.net/about/A

Empowering Blind and Low-Vision Users of Apple Products and Related Application

ipad user forum

blog, Podcasts (under maintenance)

Hadley School for the blind instructional videos: playlist https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLcIupCht58IcZ8m3fS4fScuB8phKEcdSi

Versions before IOS8

 

Version IOS8

http://visionloss.org.au/ios-8-accessibility-improvements/

 

 

 

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Highlight: Why am I seeing what I am seeing?

** Under construction **

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Example of Charles Bonnet Syndrome http://li129-107.members.linode.com/about-low-vision-blindness/vision-disorders/charles-bonnet-syndrome
Example of Charles Bonnet Syndrome
http://li129-107.members.linode.com/about-low-vision-blindness/vision-disorders/charles-bonnet-syndrome

https://discoveryeye.org/blog/seeing-images-that-arent-there/

http://www.visionaware.org/blog/visionaware-blog/charles-bonnet-syndrome-visual-hallucinations-are-my-constant-companions-by-visionaware-peer-advisor-sheila-rousey/12?_ga=1.11408372.1794517708.1458748237

New Research

http://www.visionaware.org/blog/visionaware-blog/new-research-from-canada-approximately-one-in-five-persons-with-vision-loss-experience-visual-hallucinations/12

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Highlight: How do I know when my vision changes?

 

Amsler Grid

amslergrid  From EyeScience Labs

Apple Apps to check vision

AMD Eye not only has an Amsler Grid but also has a lot of educational information including symptoms, risk factors & treatment.  There are links to help you find a retina doctor.  You can also schedule an alert so that you are reminded to check the Amsler Grid on a regular basis.

 

 

Android Apps to check vision

Amsler Grid

Central Vision Test

ForeseeHome Monitoring

Click here for information about monitoring which is connected to computer, administers sight test, tracks changes

 

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