About Visual Impairment: Cause, Treatment, Technology and Other Information You Need to Know

There is still bright future ahead for visually impaired people - Zooamx

There is still bright future ahead for visually impaired people. Photo by Justin Clark on Unsplash


Being visually impaired is not a circumstance that general people would expect to happen to ourselves, yet a lot of us would suffer this at some point of our life. Over age of 65, incidence of vision loss will be about 25%, and the percentage is highly larger than the proportion of people with some understanding of vision loss knowledge before their eye condition getting worse, or assistive technology choices after suffering poor eyesight. To help address this, below are some information selected regarding visual impairment everyone needs to know.

Figures on visual impairment

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide: 39 million are blind and 246 have low vision. 82% of people living with blindness are aged 50 and above.


The good news is that the number of people visually impaired from infectious diseases has reduced in the last 20 years according to global estimates work.


What causes vision loss?

Eye disease

A number of diseases including glaucoma, cataract, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy are common causes of vision loss. Globally, uncorrected refractive errors are the main cause of moderate and severe visual impairment; cataracts remain the leading cause of blindness in middle- and low-income countries. For children under age of 15, the main causes of visual impairment is refractive errors, most of which can be corrected through visual rehabilitation interventions. 


New research of cause

Some latest researches also indicate tobacco a potential cause of serious vision loss or even blindness. Researchers at American Academy of Ophthalmology found out that smoking increased risks for developing cloudy vision from cataracts and central vision loss from age-related macular degeneration at any age. Additionally, doctors at AIIMS (Association of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences) also say that smoking dramatically increases the risk of cataract.

How would visual impairment be treated?

The degree of impairment, the actual causes of the vision loss, the level of development and general health condition of the patient are some of the major aspects that need taking into consideration. In most cases, optical diseases would be treated by medication or surgeries.


For eye diseases

If the vision loss is caused by cataracts, surgery may be optimistic to restore vision. An artificial lens inserted into the eye replaces the damaged and clouded lens, and vision will restore after surgery.


Prescribed medications in eye drops are commonly practiced to control glaucoma. Drugs like Latanoprost, tafluprost, travoprost which are prostaglandin analogues may be the most widely in use.


Strictly controlling diabetes is an effective way to prevent progression of diabetic retinopathy that results in vision loss.


When sight couldn't be restored

At present, however, various eye conditions only have treatments feasible to stop progression instead of cure. Dry age-related macular degeneration is included; vision lost from glaucoma can't be regained as well; for diabetes developing to advanced levels, controlling might not be helpful to affected eye condition.


When surgical way or medication does not improve eye condition, magnification system designed to assist reading using appropriate lens is a method to optimize the remaining sight. Optical and electronical video magnifiers are both widely used in vision aids, and though the video magnifier (first developed in 1975) has way shorter history than optical one (appeared before about 2000 BC), this type becomes common nowadays, for these devices are allowed to present processed images on a display screen as well as some other unique functions which couldn't be achieved by traditional optical lens.


New assistive technology development for visual impairment

The preference of more portable, lighter, and easier-using devices is prevailing in daily life of visually impaired people. Based on the basic settings, development of new devices and equipment brings revolutionary performance in assisting low vision group to live a life, thanks to the cutting edge technologies scientists and engineers are trying to implement in this field.

App

The trends of smartphone spawn tons of apps for low vision use in app store. Most of them enable people to view in couple of ways including magnifying images and switching high contrast colors. Many of developers have to consider if their low vision apps need more improvement for better user experience due to the hardware limit. Therefore some of the largest technology players are designing smartphone apps implemented in other hardware, such as Relúmĭno from Samsung available via Gear VR.

Wearable technology

When it comes to VR, just like the VR set for gaming, wearable technology is growingly popular in treating visual impairment. Wearables developed in the target of helping blind or visually impaired to actually see. Contemporarily, most of wearables for visually impaired are designed as headset. Images are displayed in LED screens right in fount of users' eyes so that people can see, but the views range from simplistic magnifying to some unique technologies such as partial magnification and peripheral vision elongation.

Video magnifier

Video magnifiers, as mentioned above, are one of the most commonly used electronical items due to it has relatively lower price than most wearable devices. Except the magnification and other usual functions, optical character recognition (OCR) technology allows the device to scan the printed material, right before text-to-speech can read the text with natural voices. This technology has been installed on some desktop devices; however, the OCR technology has not been applied to handheld video magnifiers until Snow 7 HD Plus got launched in 2017.


What is positive about a handheld video magnifier applying OCR technology is that it is more portable than a desktop one, especially when it can present accuracy in recognition as good as a desktop OCR could do while the price of which can be times higher than a portable one. Its optional accessories include a swivel arm called easeArm on which the Snow 7 HD Plus can be installed to make a hand-free reading and speech.



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