Breakthrough in Age-Related Macular Degeneration Therapy

April 5, 2014

Scientists at Trinity College Dublin have made a major breakthrough with important implications for sufferers of the eye disease Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), which can cause central blindness in sufferers.

 The scientists found that a component of the immune system, ‘IL-18′, acts as a guardian of eyesight by suppressing the production of damaging  behind the retina at the back of the eye. In addition, in pre-clinical models, it was shown that ‘IL-18′ can be administered in a non-invasive way, which could represent a major improvement on the current therapeutic options that are open to patients.
The Trinity scientists found that IL-18 directly inhibits VEGF production, and that it can work as effectively as the current treatment when administered via a non-invasive intravenous injection in pre-clinical settings.
for more info:

What do you do when you want to up-grade your CCTV?

April 3, 2014

The following article is by Lauren Tappan:

 Every time I have to purchase AT equipment, I have to do a lot
of research on my own.  We went to the Raleigh Lion’s Club for a look at Davinici  and it’s relationship to the I-Pad.
This week I will get a look at Optelec  ClearView Plus Speech and Prodigy.
 It seems that there is a new generation of AT machines that can act as a CCTV, magnify, read and save text. I have a library of books, essays and articles I want to read quickly.  I could scan this text and download each page to my computer.  After more steps, I could then read the page using Zoom Text.  These new AT machines allow me to read the text immediately without all of these steps.  Some of these machines can interface with Apple iOS devices which means that your AT world is portable..  In this way the low-vision user can replace several AT devices with one machine.
     You can arrange to have a demonstration of this AT equipment at the NC Assistive Technology Center in Raleigh, NC., The Industry for the Blind in Winston-Salem, NC or you can contact the Community Low-Vision Center at the UNC Kittner Eye Center in Chapel Hill,NC.
     We will see where all of this leads me.  More to come.

What Do You Do When Your CCTV Is Too Old to Repair?

March 23, 2014

The following article is by Lauren Tappan:

I met with Sharon Giovanzo, Director of RLCB,  and John Sherwood, Technical Trainer, at the Raleigh Lions Club Building (RLCB). John showed me the Divinci and we got a chance to look at accessible features on his Ipad. I was not able to see how the Divinci interacts with his Ipad but I hope to do this at a later visit. I understand that the NC Assistive Technology also has a Divinci to demonstrate.


The Divinci is quite an impressive piece of AT Equipment. It appears that the Divinci can act as a CCTV, capturing texts and reading them to you. The camera also makes it available to see objects in the room. There is also a way to have the Divinci directly interact with your Ipad. This means that you will be able to read  the navigational toolbar and apps on the Ipad, which has been a problem for low-vision users in the past. I still have other equipment to evaluate before making a final decision, but when your CCTV is too old to repair, you have to do a lot of research to decide what is the next piece of AT equipment that you will need to buy.

For more info:

Phone for a demo :  (888) 811-3161

Risk score system accurate in predicting macular degeneration risk

March 22, 2014

8 predictors were utilized to create a macular degeneration risk scoring system :



education level,


smoking status,

presence of pigment abnormality,

soft drusen,

maximum drusen size.

For more detailed info,


Blink Often and Completely

March 15, 2014

Optometry and Vision Science reports in their May 2013 issue on a study called, Blink Rate, Incomplete Blinks and Computer Vision Syndrome that “Whereas Computer Vision Syndrome symptoms are associated with a reduced blink rate, the completeness of the blink may be equally significant. Because instructing a patient to increase his or her blink rate may be ineffective or impractical, actions to achieve complete corneal coverage during blinking may be more helpful in alleviating symptoms during computer operation.”

They found that computer users blink less often and less completely.With less blinking and incomplete blinking there is less lubrication of the eye which leads to that irritated eye feeling that my father-in-law experienced.

Computer Vision Syndrome commonly affects almost anyone who uses electronic screens.

For more info,

Computer Program Allows the Blind to ‘See’ With Sound

March 8, 2014

A man blind since birth is taking up a surprising new hobby: photography. His newfound passion is thanks to a system that turns images into sequences of sound. The technology not only gives “sight” to the blind, but also challenges the way neurologists think the brain is organized.


Voice software

In 1992, Dutch engineer Peter Meijer created vOICe, an algorithm that converts simplegrayscale images into musical soundscapes. (The capitalized middle letters sound out “Oh, I see!”). The system scans images from left to right, converting shapes in the image into sound as it sweeps, with higher positions in the image corresponding to higher sound frequencies. For instance, a diagonal line stretching upward from left to right becomes a series of ascending musical notes. While more complicated images, such as a person sitting on a lawn chair, at first seem like garbled noise, with enough training users can learn to “hear” everyday scenes.

In 2007, neuroscientist Amir Amedi and his colleagues at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem began training subjects who were born blind to use vOICe. Despite having no visual reference points, after just 70 hours of training, the individuals went from “hearing” simple dots and lines to “seeing” whole images such as faces and street corners composed of 4500 pixels.

Amedi’s team recently released a successor to vOICe, called EyeMusic, as a free iPhone app. The new algorithm produces more pleasant tones and can even provide color information.

For more info:


Misc. Comments by Lauren Tappan

March 6, 2014

The following is by Lauren Tappan:

Past FFB Visions Conferences with notes and videos

2014 FFB Conference

Dialogue Magazine for Low Vision

Other Low Vision magazines



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