Google’s Brain-Inspired Software Describes What It Sees in Complex Images

November 23, 2014

Experimental Google software that can describe a complex scene could lead to better image search or apps to help the visually impaired.

Researchers at Google have created software that can use complete sentences to accurately describe scenes shown in photos—a significant advance in the field of computer vision. When shown a photo of a game of ultimate Frisbee, for example, the software responded with the description “A group of young people playing a game of frisbee.” The software can even count, giving answers such as “Two pizzas sitting on top of a stove top oven.”

Previously, most efforts to create software that understands images have focused on the easier task of identifying single objects. Multi-layered descriptions can lead to better understanding for vision-impaired readers and better searches by all.

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HIV drug may also treat macular degeneration

November 23, 2014

Reporting their findings in the journal Science, the international team, led by researchers at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, say because of a previously undiscovered property, the drugs may also be effective against other inflammatory disorders.

In their new study on mice with a condition similar to dry AMD, Prof. Ambati and colleagues show that several FDA-approved NRTIs stopped retinal degeneration. But they were surprised to find it was a previously unknown property of the drugs that produced the results.

They found the NRTIs blocked a type of inflammasome called NLRP3. Inflammasomes are large complexes of proteins that play a key role in innate immunity. They detect and respond to certain molecular patterns of pathogens and other damaging agents.

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New Laser Therapy Helps Slow Macular Degeneration

November 23, 2014
A new, low impact low energy laser treatment for patients with early age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has produced positive results by reducing indicators of the disease.
Researchers from the University of Melbourne found unlike other laser treatments, this new faster laser did not result in damage to the retina, the sensitive light detecting tissue at the back of the eye.
This was the first report detailing how this new nanosecond laser treatment may improve eye health in those with AMD. In the early stages, the disease is characterized by the presence of small fatty deposits called drusen and thickening in a membrane at the back of the eye.

Smartphone Screens Correct for Your Vision Flaws

November 19, 2014
Scientific American article
Self-correcting screens on smartphones and iPads tailor themselves to a viewer’s vision—no glasses necessary.

But glasses and contact lenses are not always ideal. If you are farsighted, for example, you do not need glasses to see traffic while driving, but you do need them to read your speedometer or GPS. The best solution in such cases, Wetzstein says, would be vision-correcting displays—screens that wear the glasses for you.Wetzstein and his colleagues at M.I.T. (where he was formerly based) and the University of California, Berkeley, have developed just such a screen. The vision-correcting display makes two modifications to a standard high-resolution smartphone or tablet screen. The first is a low-cost, pinhole-covered printed transparency that covers the screen. The second: algorithms coded into the smartphone or tablet that determine the viewer’s position relative to the screen and distort the image that is projected, according to his or her prescription. As the distorted image passes through the matrix of pinholes in the transparent screen cover, the hardware-software combination creates errors on the screen that cancel errors in the eye, thus delivering what appears to be a crisp image. The screen can correct for myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism and more complicated vision problems. The team presented the work at the SIGGRAPH conference in August in Vancouver.

Informal tests on a handful of users have shown that the technology works, Wetzstein says, but large-scale studies are needed to further refine it. In the process, the researchers also plan on developing a slider that can be used to manually adjust the focus of the screen. Wetzstein says that the technology could be a boon for people in developing countries who have easier access to mobile devices than prescription eyewear.

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Teams finds novel approaches to treating age-related macular degeneration

November 16, 2014

While oxygen is essential to our planet’s life force and the way we function and stay healthy, high concentrations referred to as oxidative stress may very well be the cause of more than 70 widely-spread diseases such as cancer, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and eye diseases including macular degeneration.

 Scientists at Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, as well as the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, have found that sulindac, a known anti-inflammatory drug, can protect against oxidative damage due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the primary causes of vision loss in the elderly. Their findings were released today in an article titled “Pharmacological protection of retinal pigmented epithelial cells by sulindac involves PPAR-α” in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“What happens in age-related macular degeneration is that the retinal pigmented epithelial or RPE cells, which are essential to nourishing the , are damaged by ,” said Herbert Weissbach, Ph.D., director and distinguished research professor in the Center for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology within the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. “Our studies show that sulindac can protect RPE cells in culture against oxidative damage, suggesting that it could be an inexpensive and relatively non-toxic therapeutic approach for treating age-related macular degeneration.”

Oxidative stress is mainly due to the imbalance between the free radicals produced within our bodies from the oxygen that we breathe in and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by “antioxidants systems.” This imbalance is the underlying basis of oxidative stress. Oxygen can also be produced by environmental agents including air pollution, radiation, cigarette smoking, excess stress and increased exposure to sunlight.


Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have created a new, smartermethod for predicting if and when patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) will contract the most damaging form of the disease.

The technique, which relies on computer analysis of retinal scans already commonly collected by ophthalmologists and optometrists, will enable doctors to accurately calculate whether any given patient is likely to progress to “wet” AMD — the later stage of the illness that causes blindness if not treated in time.

There is no feasible way to treat wet AMD preemptively. And until now, there was no way to tell with certainty whether dry AMD would become wet AMD. Patients just had to hope their next doctor’s visit would come at the right time to detect and head off any further deterioration before it was too late.

Thanks to the new computer algorithm, ophthalmologists can now predict whether a particular person’s AMD will progress within one, three or five years, enabling doctors to tell their patients much more accurately when their next visit should be.

Low Vision Speaker Event Nov. 14

November 10, 2014

The following post is from  Lauren Tappan, corrected version:


On November 14, 11 am, Binkley Baptist Church, Chapel Hill, NC, we will have a speaker event for people with vision limitations. This event would be most helpful for professionals and individuals with cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, etc. This is information that your doctors will not tell you. Lauren Tappan will talk about a low-vision resource blog, Lyn Shields will talk about UNC Hospital’s Kinttner Eye Center Low-Vision Clinic, Jack Mitchell will bring in assistive technology equipment for hands on demonstrations. For more information, contact Lauren Tappan at

Jack Mitchell represents Indigo Logix. Their website is He will be showing the Prodigi digital magnifier by Humanware. Indigo Logix is the Humanware dealer for NC, TN and GA.

You can  link to the Prodigi brochure by linking here: Prodigi Duo/Desktop/Tablet



Yahoo introduces new Accessability Page

October 18, 2014

Yahoo Statement:

We put our users first in all that we do, and accessibility is no exception.  Accessibility is about ensuring that every user, regardless of his or her capabilities , can fully enjoy using Yahoo’s products. That is why we are excited to introduce our newAccessibility page, hosted by the Yahoo Accessibility Team.

The Accessibility team is based in Sunnyvale, performs user studies and works side-by-side with our product teams during development to make sure that our mobile and web products can be used and enjoyed by everyone. Some of the ways our products become more accessible are through the use of high-contrast colors, resizable text, alt-text (descriptions) for images and user interface elements, and support for closed captions and subtitles on videos.

Even the design and layout have been deeply considered to provide excellent accessibility, making it easy to read, understand and navigate.

For more info:


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