Israeli researchers develop seaweed-based treatment for child blindness

May 27, 2013

Sheba Medical Center in Israel is conducting a one-year clinical study of alga dunaliella bardawill, a form of algae rich in 9-cis beta carotene, for the treatment of autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa. As many as 35 adults have been enrolled in the study. The treatment has shown promising results in lab studies.


AudioBoo – Facebook for the Visually Impaired

May 22, 2013

This note is from Alex Nicholls”

Hi John,

Hope you’re well. I have been researching sites that provide useful information to people with disabilities and in particular those who are blind, and I came across the LVATUG blog.

 I thought you might wish to tell your readers more about Audioboo, the social sound network – there are huge numbers of visually impaired people turning to the platform as their social media site of choice. Most people take using the internet, apps and popular social networks for granted. However for people with sight loss, if a tool isn’t accessible, it can make the difference between being able to benefit from using it or simply not… as I’m sure you well know!

I have spoken to a few users, and you can listen to them telling their stories of how Audioboo has changed their lives and the way they communicate. Or, please find a press release below, if you would prefer to publish the story in a more traditional news format.

·         Amy ‘BrailleSnail’ –

·         Ricky – ‘Caribbean Blindman’ –

·         Kevin Satizabal – ‘KevinSatizabal’ –

I would be happy to set up a conversation with a representative from Audioboo if required, but I look forward to hearing whether this might be of interest to your readers.

 Best wishes,


For more info:

3D DigiGlasses in Development in Europe

May 17, 2013
The DigiGlasses project aims to help this group of visually impaired people by providing them with a glasses like digital tool to convert the real view of the environment to a sharper, more focused picture by increasing contrast and using edge detection.
digiglasses 1
The plan is to develop a pair of digital “glasses” working with a camera chip, a signal processing unit and a small LCD or LED screen. The captured picture will be analyzed and processed based on the necessary corrections. One of the planned corrections is contrast increasing and edge detection which will help the visually impaired recognize the different objects in their surroundings.
The DIGIGLASSES project is a research project funded by the European Commission with the aim to develop glasses that can correct sight difficulties caused by different eye diseases for the visually impaired. The device to be developed intends to integrate the functions of current visual aid devices (zoom, contrast improvement etc.), and provide a 3D vision for the users customized to the specific symptoms of the users eye disease.
For more info:

Doctor Writes Guide for Macular Degeneration Eyeglasses

May 13, 2013

Dr. Randolph C. Kinkade, a Connecticut optometrist and founding member of the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists, has written the Guide for Macular Degeneration Eyeglasses: Low Vision Treatment.  The book helps educate individuals and their doctors about the newest ways to help people see better with macular degeneration and low vision.


For reading and writing there are Prismatic Magnifying Spectacles (PMSs), Spectacle Miniature Telescopes (SMTs) and ClearImage II Reading Microscopes.  They provide higher magnification than regular eyeglasses, often making reading easier.   They do make things better, but they cannot make things perfect warns Dr. Kinkade.

For seeing in the distance (10 feet and beyond), like watching television, driving and seeing people’s faces, new E-Scoop Glasses and Spectacle Miniature Telescopes (SMTs) are available.  SMTs for distance viewing are available in full-diameter and bioptic designs.

“No pair of eyeglasses can eliminate developing blind spots created by macular degeneration, but they do make things larger,  giving you a better chance of seeing and reading,” Dr. Kinkade said.

The Implantable Miniature Telescope (IMT) is another new treatment option for people with advanced stable macular degeneration and is discussed in the book.

An electronic copy of the Guide for Macular Degeneration Eyeglasses: Low Vision Treatment can be requested by emailing     A printed version can be requested at (800) 756-0766.

For more info:

Nutritional Supplement Recommendations Clarified By The National Eye Institute

May 13, 2013

The National Eye Institute (NEI) recently revisited its original recommendation of nutritional supplements AREDS for treating age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – daily high doses of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper – to test claims that it might be improved.  NEI concluded that there was no overall additional benefit from adding omega-3 fatty acids or a 5-to-1 mixture of lutein and zeaxanthin to the original formulation.

Analysis of AREDS2 showed that participants with a low dietary intake of lutein and zeaxanthin pre-study who took an AREDS formulation with lutein and zeaxanthin during the study were about 25 percent less likely to develop advanced AMD compared to participants with similar dietary intake who did not take lutein and zeaxanthin.

For more info:


Jim Bohannon show discusses Visual Impairment

May 12, 2013

On May 8, Jim  discussed visual impairment on his radio show.

There are over six point six million Americans of all ages who are either blind or have a significant vision impairment. Slightly more are female rather than male, and slightly more are under the age of 65 than above. Two-thirds of blind or visually-impaired adults do not have even a high school education, and one-third have incomes that place them below the poverty line. Most tellingly, the unemployment rate for blind and visually-impaired adults is a staggering 63 percent. Living a fulfilled, independent life for these people is an uphill battle. However, more and more, technology is helping make the difference in helping the blind live rewarding and independent lives, both at home and in the workplace. We’ll learn more about blindness, other visual impairments, and how technology is helping to level the playing field with two guests: Charlie Collins, who is visually-impaired himself, the founder and CEO of the firm Vision Dynamics and ophthalmologist Dr. Howard Charles, of New York’s Mount Kisco Medical Group.

They discussed telescopic implants, stem cell research, retinal implants, AMD injections, talking books and various assistive technology.

For more info:

This discussion starts 40 minutes into the program and lasts about 45 minutes.

What it is Like to Have an Artificial Retina

May 11, 2013

This article is by Gail Johnson.

Elias Konstantopoulos gets spotty glimpses of the world each day for about four hours, or for however long he leaves his Argus II retina prosthesis turned on. The 74-year-old Maryland resident lost his sight from a progressive retinal disease over 30 years ago, but is able to perceive some things when he turns on the bionic vision system.

“I can see if you are in front of me, and if you try to go away,” he says. “Or, if I look at a big tree with the system on I can maybe see some darkness and if it’s bright outside and I move my head to the left or right I can see different shadows that tell me there is something there. There’s no way to tell what it is,” says Konstantopoulos.

A spectacle-mounted camera captures image data for Konstantopoulos; that data is then processed by a mini-computer carried on a strap and sent to a 60-pixel neuron-stimulating chip that was implanted in one of his retinas in 2009.


German company Retina Implant, for example, recently completed human tests with its 1,500-pixel implant that does not depend on a camera but instead directly harvests light and transmits that data to remaining neurons (see “Microchip Restores Vision”). A photodiode array replaces the photoreceptors.

Some people with artificial retinas can read large letters, see slow-moving cars, or identify tableware. Other patients experience no benefit.

For more info: