Getting a view on daily life

February is the Low Vision Awareness Month and in this regard the National Eye Institute is presenting a number of projects whose aim is to improve daily lives of blind and low vision people, from preparing a meal to crossing the street. Of course the needs can change from disease to disease.

For example, age-related macular degeneration affects central vision, creating a difficulty with tasks such as reading.

By contrast, glaucoma causes loss of peripheral vision, which making it challenging to walk in crowded places like airports or malls. In order to avoid a reduction of the visual field of this type, for example, Eli Peli, from Schepens Eye Research Institute in Boston, has developed a high-powered prism, called Multiplexing Prism that expands the field of vision by about 30 degrees.

A robotic cane has been created in order to reach destinations with more autonomy, equipped with a camera, a voice sensor and a wireless earpiece. Crosswalk, instead, is a smartphone app that gives voice instructions helping the user to identify the safest place to cross the street. Lastly, the CamIO system is a new type of camera designed to make physical objects (documents, maps, devices and 3D models) fully accessible to blind and low vision people with a real-time audio feedback. Many of these devices take advantage of computer vision, a technological system that aims to recreate as realistic as possible human vision.

t’s just beginning, according to Eli Peli.