Low Vision Aids: Enhancing Your View

Seeing is believing… There’s no denying it. Yet, eyesight gets weaker with age. In most cases, a pair of bifocals or reading glasses would do the trick. If not, and you face difficulty performing your daily activities, it’s likely you have low vision.

There are about 4 million Americans with low vision and chronic visual impairment, which can’t be corrected with glasses. Surprisingly, low vision and legal blindness are among the leading causes of disability in the United States.

So how does one regain the independence that is compromised because of low vision? Is there some voodoo stuff that’s going to miraculously get your vision back?

Not quite right, but we are close.

Technological advances have given way to several options to surface. Among these options are the low vision aids. For example, electronic magnification offers better benefits than a standard optical low vision device.

There are various types of low vision aids, categorized into optical, non-optical, and high-tech aids. Low vision aids are mostly task-specific and can be used for close-up, intermediate, or distance viewing tasks.

But, though amazing and useful, we will not be focusing on all the categories. We are going to let you in one some secrets of optical low vision aids, and specifically the electronic low vision devices utilizing assistive technologies.

What’s more, they are not just task-specific but can be used across multiple activities.

We have gathered information about some of the major players in wearable electronic assistive low vision devices. Here are the details:

IrisVision

IrisVision is an FDA-registered visual aid device that utilizes the power of mobile virtual reality. It is an all-in-one, distance and autofocus solution designed for intuitive ease-of-use. It is equipped with powerful connectivity tools that enable greater engagement with the world, providing easy-to-use, voice-controlled, and internet connected wearable devices.

IrisVision Live is a wearable headset that uses a Samsung smartphone mounted in the VR headset.

However, IrisVision Inspire, which debuted in the U.S. market in September 2021, no longer houses the Samsung smartphone but is tethered to it with its award-winning software. This makes the Inspire device half the weight compared to its predecessor and also comes with a removable eye guard, giving the user a sleeker profile.

esight alternate low vision aids

IrisVision low vision aids are intended for anyone with poor vision who wants to make use of their remaining sight. Unlike other low vision devices that are used for specific tasks, IrisVision can be used for various tasks. As it can be operated wirelessly, there is no need to plug it in or connect it to a network, allowing it to be used both indoors and outdoors.

Reading

People with vision acuities as low as 20/2000 can read with the help of high magnification. This emphasizes that low vision, or extremely low vision, is compatible with reading as long as adequate magnification is available.

We all read, be it for entertainment, news, bills, recipes, navigation, and so on; we just have to read up to a certain level to move about. IrisVision is equipped with a variety of reading modes that allow users to read certain text in different situations.

  • Black/White:

    This mode is used for reading text material like books or papers without colors. To read magazines or materials in color, you can return to scene mode. This mode, by default, allows the user to read black letters on a white background. The black on white mode enhances the brightness and contrast of letters. This mode is best used when the text and background colors make it difficult to read, like red on pink.

  • IrisReader:

    This mode uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR), which reads the selected text aloud. Through this mode, you center the text and magnify it by capturing the image of the text.

  • Inverted Text:

    This mode is helpful for various eye conditions as it provides white letters on a black background, enhancing the contrast and reducing the glare on the screen. It makes it easier to read for people who have high sensitivity to light and are overwhelmed by bright scenes. People with eye conditions like glaucoma and retinitis pigmentosa respond well to this mode.

  • Line Reading:

    It is similar to the first reading mode in that it presents text only in black letters on a white background. This mode provides a magnification bar in the center that magnifies one or more lines of text, while providing a normal view above and below the bar. This magnification helps overcome common reading mistakes like reading the same line twice or skipping a line.

  • Green Reading:

    This mode shows black text on a green background. It helps provide a better contrast without the brightness of a white background.

  • Yellow Reading:

    This mode shows black text on a yellow background. It helps provide a better contrast without the brightness of a white background and can be used when reading for an extended period of time as it soothes the eyes.

Entertainment

Living with low vision may restrict the amount of entertainment you get. IrisVision offers the following entertainment options to keep you up to date with the latest trends and your personal library.

  • Photo Gallery:

    The Photo Gallery mode allows you to view the snapshots you have saved to take a trip down memory lane.

  • Video Player:

    Video Player mode features voice-enabled search, where you can search for your favorite videos or anything of your interest.

  • YouTube Mode:

    This mode is a gateway to staying informed, learning new skills, or searching through shared videos. It has voice-enabled search and bookmarking features.

  • TV Mode:

    The Television mode adjusts the light at the center of the TV or computer screen. It is suited for an extended usage time as it doesn’t enter sleep mode after a certain period of idleness.

Daily Routine Modes

To get along with your daily activities, IrisVision is equipped with different viewing modes that target different eye conditions.

  • Scene:

    The Bubble View feature can be accessed in Scene Mode. The view inside the bubble can increase or decrease in magnification as required. Whatever changes are made to the magnification in this mode will appear in the bubble.

  • Bioptic:

    This mode has a rectangle at the top center of the screen that allows you to magnify a specific section on the screen without losing the surrounding context of the view. This feature acts like a viewfinder on the camera.

  • RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa):

    With this mode, you can change the field of view of the screen. It helps people with conditions like retinitis pigmentosa or glaucoma. The user can see the view by shrinking the image to a smaller viewing area.

Cost:

IrisVision Live—$2,950

IrisVision Inspire—$3,995

OrCam

OrCam MyEye is a voice-activated low vision device that can be attached to any pair of glasses. This device relays the visual information audibly, in real-time and offline and also helps the user recognize people and perform other daily activities with ease through audio support. However, this device doesn’t improve a person’s vision.

OrCam alternate low vision aids

Reading

  • OrCam MyReader:

    The OrCam MyReader eyewear focuses on text recognition, which is a proprietary text recognition engine. You can look directly at the page or label of text and press the Trigger button to capture the image of the text. Within a few seconds, the text is relayed aloud. Another method is to place a finger near the top center of the page or text. OrCam recognizes the fingernail and helps the camera focus, capturing the image and relaying the text aloud.

  • OrCam MyEye:

    Along with the features from OrCam MyReader, OrCam MyEye can recognize currency, credit cards, household items, or work items. However, these must be identified and placed in the OrCam’s memory using audio tags. Currency must be touched or viewed using the trigger button in order to be recognized. OrCam MyEye can store and recognize up to 150 credit cards, items, household cleaners, and other objects ranging from the size of a pack of playing cards to a box of cereal.

Entertainment

The OrCam wearable low vision aids are designed for people who are blind or visually impaired. It provides independence to the users by giving access to visual information, which is conveyed by audio, through a tiny camera that is attachable to any pair of eyeglasses.

Using artificial intelligence, it reads text, recognizes faces, and identifies products. However, OrCam only just does that. It doesn’t offer any entertainment elements that would give the user the luxury of dabbling in their hobbies or topics of interest.

Daily Routine Modes

As indicated before, OrCam is focused on relaying visual information to the user, but it doesn’t enhance a person’s remaining vision. Hence, it is well-suited when performing daily tasks that involve a lot of reading or moving around areas to recognize certain images.

Cost:

OrCam MyReader – $2,500

OrCam MyEye 2.0 – $4,500

eSight

The eSight low vision aids are marketed as a pair of ‘electronic glasses.’ The device is worn like regular glasses and can be customized with prescription lens inserts, if required. eSight wearable low vision aids utilize a high-speed, high-resolution camera to capture live footage that is displayed on the screens of the user’s eyes.

Advanced software optimizes the image to the ideal focus for the patient. However, the device does not enhance the vision of the user in real-time.

esight alternate low vision aids

Reading

  • OCR Text to Speech Reader:

    eSight’s OCR Text to Speech reader works best with type-written, left-aligned, black text on a white background, which is not surrounded by images or handwritten text. If larger and well-spaced text is read, it is quickly and accurately recognized by the system than smaller and tightly spaced text. To get the best results from this feature, it is advised to zoom in till three lines of text is seen and adjust the focus on them to enhance the sharpness. The recognized text is displayed in white text on a black background and read aloud. On the screen, suggested autocorrect words are also shown in red. If any text is unrecognizable, random characters are placed or the screen goes black.

  • PDF Reader:

    To use the PDF Reader, a set of PDF documents must be copied to an SD card and inserted in the eSight device. Once accessed, the available PDF documents can be read through this feature.

Entertainment

With eSight 4, you can share moments and maximize the screen viewing opportunity. The users can take photos and videos and optionally share them using their smartphones. They can even stream movies or watch TV that is broadcast to the eSight device through their smartphones or smart TVs.

Daily Routine Modes

eSight enables people with low vision or legal blindness to achieve 20/20 vision with its advanced camera and lens technology. It projects a quality image onto the high resolution screens for full binocular vision. With the adjustable pupillary and screen distance, it can ensure that the user gets a clear view. However, the eSight eyewear does not provide visual enhancement. It only improves the vision of the person to allow them to see near or far.

Cost:

eSight 4 – $5,950

Getting on with life after vision loss is not as easy as it seems. To make it work, people with low vision have to adapt to various challenges physically as well as mentally. Yet, with assistive low vision aids revolutionizing the low vision aid industry, not all seems to be lost.

However, to find the perfect solution that fits your requirements, thorough research is required. Look into various electronic glasses alternatives and companies that offer the best value for your money.

By |2022-06-17T19:54:41+00:00June 17th, 2022|

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About the Author:

James has been passionate about physical fitness and mental wellbeing. With an aim to educate the masses about topics related to healthcare through his articles and blog posts – James has a unique style that turns an informative content into an enjoyable read.

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