There are millions of Americans who suffer from low vision which is defined as a chronic visual impairment which cannot be corrected with surgery or glasses. Such patients have to use different devices to help them see under various conditions. It might not be possible every time for the patients to carry a toolbox with different glasses and magnifiers. However, with virtual reality, a solution to the toolbox might soon be available for patients suffering from low vision. Frank Werblin, a professor of neuroscience at UC Berkeley has designed a piece of software called the Visionize, which uses virtual reality to help patients with low vision, see properly.
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Visionize- Helping People with Low Vision
The software developed by Werblin uses those types of virtual reality headsets which can be seen in video gaming. The concept behind the use of these VR headsets is very simple. Patients have to wear the headset with a smartphone inserted in it. Real-time images of patients’ surroundings are captured and magnified to show them in front of their eyes. The patients can target the magnifications and adjust the strength as per their needs.
Werblin said “Traditional treatments use magnification, but they magnify everything.” However, most of the patients don’t need the whole magnification. He added that “If you wear a telescope, then you lose peripheral vision. So our challenge was to find a way for people to see the world in context, but to create a kind of telescope in the middle of that view.”
The ability to allow adjustments to the VR headsets makes it possible for the patients to forego the toolbox and use only the headset.
Less Invasive Solution
Werblin wanted to build a device which could be accessed by the wider low-vision community. He has already worked for many years on retinal chips which can be placed in eyeballs so that the blind can see. He was looking for a solution which was less invasive and more affordable. He sought advice from Robert W. Massof, who is the professor of neuroscience at the John Hopkins University.
The Visionize uses Samsung Gear VR headset and is run by a smartphone. This means with the development of the VR headset, Visionize can take advantage of those advancements.
Massof said “The idea would be to piggyback off these tech developments that are changing almost monthly.”
However, there are still problems which need to be worked upon to give a smooth assistance to the patients with low vision.
What do you think?
Do you think this will be a useful development? Should more such developments take place? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Image & Article Source – latimes.com