June 30, 2009
If individuals who are the blind can read language using their hands, then they should be able to understand images drawn on their tongues. That sensory substitution concept is the driving force behind BrainPort, an experimental device being developed to help individuals who are blind see the world around them.
The BrainPort vision device has been developed specifically for people with visual impairments. The basic premise of this device is in creating tactile images on the tongue, and thus enabling the patient to ‘feel’ the images. The input for this device comes from visual information gathered by a user-adjustable head-mounted camera. The processed information is sent to the BrainPort base unit, which converts it into electrical patterns projected on to the tongue. The resulting image is perceived as stimulation, wherein white pixels are strong, black is no stimulation and gray is medium.
June 30, 2009
Blind blogger gives interesting comments on various GPS systems including Braille Note and Trekker Breeze.
June 28, 2009
ABISee Inc has improved its website and added new products that aid scanning and reading written material. They can scan a book at 20 pages per minute, save it and read it back to you aloud.
For the blind, there are Eye-Pal, a computer accessory and Eye-Pal Solo, a self-contained appliance.
For low vision, there are Eye-Pal Solo LV which adds a monitor to to Eye-Pal Solo, Zoom-Ex which attaches to a PC, and Zoom-Twix which adds a second camera to Zoom-Ex that aids students in seeing a blackboard.
All these devices can act as an Instant Reader, a Smart Magnifier and a book Scanner-Reader. The Zoom-Twix can do this for both close-up written material and distant blackboards. It even saves screen shots of the blackboard.
June 28, 2009
Two new sources of information on Albinism:
Low Vision News Blog by an Optometrist in the UK
Albinism: Classification, Clinical Characteristics, and Recent Findings.
Optometry & Vision Science Journal
June 24, 2009
A new medical study indicates that with the use of the Macular Health LLC vitamin supplement there is a way to preserve the vision of millions of aging adults suffering from AMD.
The second phase of the Multifocal Electroretinogram (MERG) study, conducted at the UAB Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama, recently revealed that patients suffering from AMD experienced long-term benefits from taking Macular Health, a special combination of supplemental vitamins, minerals and carotenoids. Phase I of the MERG study, completed in 2005, confirmed an average of 16 percent improvement in vision after taking Macular Health for only 12 weeks. Phase II, completed recently, measured the vision function of the same patients two years later and found an average improvement in vision of 17 percent.
June 18, 2009
A Roanoke company is in the early stages of new research to treat a debilitating eye disease. OcuCure Therapeutics just finished 9 months of testing for a new eye drop, that may eventually better treat Age Related Wet Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Retinopathy.
Without treatment, AMD only gets worse and can eventually cause blindness. The eye drops are different from other treatments because they aren’t as toxic as some other medicines that are used to treat the condition.
June 18, 2009
Advanced Cell Technology of Worcester, MA will seek approval for human trials of its treatment for vision loss.
While scientists have made huge advances using stem cells to treat diseases in animal models, testing these experimental therapies in humans poses some unique challenges. One is proving that the cells are safe: embryonic stem cells, which can develop into any tissue type in the body, carry the risk of forming tumors. Another challenge is the threat of immune rejection of the transplanted cells; in most cases, introducing foreign cells would require a patient to take powerful drugs for life to suppress the immune system, as is the case with organ transplants. For that reason, the first stem-cell therapies have focused on the eye and nervous system, so-called immune-privileged sites that do not experience this response to foreign cells.
Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) uses human embryonic stem cells to re-create a type of cell in the retina that supports the photoreceptors needed for vision. These cells, called retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), are often the first to die off in age-related macular degeneration and other eye diseases, which in turn leads to loss of vision. Several years ago, scientists found that human embryonic stem cells could be a source of RPE cells, and subsequent studies found that these cells could restore vision in mouse models of macular degeneration.
The transplants were also able to improve vision in a mouse model of Stargardt’s disease, a rare but untreatable illness that causes blindness early in life.