According to the estimates provided by NIH:
The number of legally blind people (20/200 vision or worse) in the United States of America was well over 1 million in 2015.
This means a significant chunk of people with special needs live right among us. It’s not only the deterioration of vision that they have to suffer from; the overall quality of their lives deteriorates too, also affecting their level of independence.
The good news is that healthcare combined with technological advancement is improving with every passing day. For example, a host of innovative low vision solutions have cropped up lately, offering different types of features and functions catering to a whole range of visual disabilities.
Of course, some of them are better than others in the way they are designed and function. So, we have compiled a list of top 5 devices that can help legally blind live independently. Let’s have a look at them:
IrisVision is an assistive technology solution approved and registered by the FDA as a Class-1 medical device, one of the best vision enhancement, wearable low vision aids in the market right now.
Comprised of Samsung’s VR Headset and Latest Smartphone, it is designed to facilitate people suffering from low vision conditions, especially Macular Degeneration, and other degenerative eye diseases like Diabetic Retinopathy, Cataracts, Albinism and so forth.
Price: $ 2,950/Unit
Electronic glasses, comprised of a smartphone mounted VR headset, which captures the images and offers a magnified view of the objects (within its field of view) to the viewer
Highly maneuverable magnification up to 14x
Boasts of a field of view up to 70-degrees, one of the broadest in the whole industry
Highly customizable and user friendly controls and settings
Helps legally blind and visually hampered in performing a host of daily activities ranging from viewing live scenes and sports events to watching their favorite shows online or anything saved in its gallery
Patented “Bubble View” magnification feature designed to offer magnification within the bubble, without losing the overall context of the surrounding view
Different modes to cater for different types of legal blindness or visual impairment, for example, ‘Scene Mode’, ‘Bubble View Mode’, ‘Bioptic Mode’, different modes with color variations for reading assistance, ‘Reading Line Mode’, ‘TV mode’ and so forth
‘IrisVision Assistant’ to enable users operate this low vision device through voice commands, truly making it ‘hands-free’
‘Iris Reader’, another proprietary feature based on contemporary OCR techniques, through which the device can literally read you out the desired text
These low vision glasses for legally blind comprise of a light attachable camera mounted on a pair of glasses. Especially designed to help people suffering from low vision read better, it is also helpful in a handful of other activities like barcode identification, face recognition and product identification.
All-in-one head unit
Offers assistance in reading text from any type of surface
Supplemented with automatic page detection
Capable of reading multiple languages
Reads selected text through gesture as well, requiring only a finger pointed towards it
Supports face recognition, barcode identification and product identification
A wired, portable low vision solution for people suffering from low vision, Jordy helps you with various daily activities like reading, writing and recognizing faces in many different environments. It can be strapped around your head, offering you glasses-like vision.
Assists vision hampered people in viewing their surroundings
Tactile controls offering a user-friendly experience
Can also serve as a CCTV camera by means of a docking station
Can help watch TV through cable box connectivity
A pair of electronic glasses designed to help visually impaired and legally blind see. These are battery operated, where a chord connects the battery with the device. This means you get somewhat restricted mobility and need to keep track of the battery’s charge.
You get video display through head-mounted goggles
Designed to offer best assistance for visual acuities close to 20/200, with a 35 degrees’ field of view
Customizable clinical settings are offered
Optical character recognition is offered
NuEyes is a contemporary product comprising of a pair of smart electronic glasses. It doesn’t weigh much and can be operated wirelessly through a controller that accompanies the glasses or simply using a set of voice commands.
Price: $5,995 – $6,195
Can be operated wirelessly
Can be used to watch TV
Offers variable magnification ranging from 1x – 12x
Varied options for colors and contrasts
Barcode and QR scanning options
What Else Can You Do to Live Independently as Legally Blind?
In fact, technology is not the only avenue offering you assistance in living independently as a vision impaired or legally blind individual. There are some other practices that can help you move around your home much more independently, such as:
Bigger and Bolder is Better
Not for everyone and every situation, but definitely for people suffering from low vision conditions, bigger and bolder is better. You shouldn’t confine this principle only to reading your morning paper. Instead, consider labeling everything possible and essential, ranging from kitchen cabinets, drawers and shelves to large storage boxes. Similarly, you better resort to the best contrasting color arrangement according to your needs and requirements.
Identify High Risk Places and Install Grab Bars Over There
This can be helpful even when your mobility is not compromised intensively, keeping you safe from slipping, tripping and falling in high risk places like bathrooms, staircases and kitchen. As they say, prevention is better than cure.
Get Clutter Free
Clutter in your home is not recommended in any case, more so when you live there as a vision impaired person. Arrange your furniture minimally and securely, making sure you’ve left ‘safe zones’ to navigate through your desired destinations.
One thing is for sure, with continued technological progression, life is going to be even better for people with special needs. More and more processes, methods, tools and techniques will continue improving the quality of people suffering from vision impairment, some of which have been discussed in this write-up.
Though all of these low vision devices are designed to cater to the special needs of vision impaired and legally blind people, all of these differ in one way or the other. And as a vision impaired person, it’s up to you to decide your imminent needs and requirements, also considering which one gives you the best value of money.