Spacing May Improve Reading for Macular Degeneration Patients

January 18, 2014

Macular degeneration patients often have trouble reading, but a new study finds that double line spacing and double word spacing may make reading easier for these patients.

Previous research has found that visual crowding may be a major contributing factor to the reading problems that patients with macular degeneration face. The study, published online on November 11, 2013, in PLOS One, evaluated the effects of line spacing and word spacing on reading speed and accuracy in patients with age-related macular degeneration.

Participants read short passages printed in low-contrast and high-contrast text with varying line and word spacing. Participants read the fastest with the fewest mistakes when reading text with both double line and double word spacing.

When words and lines were double spaced, reading speed increased by 26% with high-contrast text and 46% with low-contrast text compared with normal-spaced text.

Double line and word spacing also more than halved the number of reading errors compared with single-spaced text. The results indicate that visual crowding renders reading difficult for macular degeneration patients, especially with low-contrast text.

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A Concise Description of Macular Degeneration

January 18, 2014

The following is from Ernie Jones of the Walla Walla Union Bulletin

Macular degeneration affects up to 10 million Americans and is so commonly associated with aging that it is known as “age-related macular degeneration,” or AMD.

AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in those older than 50. It occurs due to deterioration of the macula, a tiny spot in the central portion of the retina, composed of millions of light-sensing cells that help to produce central vision.

As we age, these light-sensitive photoreceptors in the macula can become thin, worn or damaged, and covered with tiny hyaline deposits known as drusen. This can cause objects directly in front of you to appear blurry and lacking in detail. When looking at a face, an AMD patient may only see the ears clearly — the face is a blur.

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#Dry macular degeneration occurs because of a thinning in the tissues in the macula and a dysfunction in the light-sensitive cells. This initially produces subtle vision loss, such as a fuzzy appearance of objects and, eventually, blank spots over the eye’s central vision.

Wet macular degeneration is characterized by the development of abnormal blood vessels in the area between the retina and a layer of supporting tissues behind it. As these blood vessels leak fluid, they damage retinal cells. Over the course of time scar tissue forms, creating a blind spot in the center of the vision. Although wet AMD occurs in only about 10 percent of cases, it’s responsible for nearly 90 percent of severe vision loss from this disease.

Age and heredity appear to be the main causes of AMD, although gender and race appear to play a role. Women are more likely than men to get AMD, and it affects about one in nine Caucasians between ages 65 to 74 and approximately one in four older than age 75, but is uncommon in Asians, African-Americans and American Indians.

Risk factors for AMD include long-term exposure to ultraviolet light; low blood levels of minerals and antioxidant vitamins such as A, C and E; cigarette smoking; heart disease; high cholesterol; and other circulatory problems. A diet rich in partially hydrogenated fats, such as those found in margarine and many snack foods, may also play a part.

AMD develops gradually and painlessly. In dry AMD, one might notice a gradual haziness in vision, colors appear to be more dim, a blind spot appears in the center of the visual field and printed words become increasingly blurry. In advanced cases, faces and printed words might become hard to recognize. In wet AMD you may notice visual distortions, such as straight lines appearing wavy, and sudden decreased central vision

There are steps you can take that may increase your chances of preventing AMD or slow its advancement. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and other foods containing antioxidant vitamins A, C and E is believed to help prevent AMD. Good sources of these nutrients include deep green, yellow and orange vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, chard, spinach, squash, cantaloupe, mango and sweet potatoes.

Some researchers also suspect that food containing lutein and zeaxanthin, found in high concentrations in egg yolks, corn and spinach, might be beneficial. Many experts recommend at least five servings of vegetables each day. Some research suggests that zinc-rich foods such as fish and legumes might also offer a protective effect.

In a study published in the October 2001 issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, researchers found that people at high risk of developing advanced stages of AMD lowered their risk by about 25 percent when they consumed a daily supplement rich in vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and zinc.

Orange, yellow or amber-tinted sunglasses can filter out both ultraviolet and blue light that can damage your retina. Not smoking also helps — smokers are two to three times more likely to develop AMD.

Early detection of macular degeneration is the key to preventing serious vision loss. If you’re older than age 50, yearly eye exams are recommended, especially if you have a family history of AMD. Eye exams are very important, for they can identify early changes in your vision that can otherwise be difficult to detect.


Fleksy: A low vision friendly android keyboard

January 16, 2014

Are you looking for an android keyboard with larger font? Do you find the stock android keyboard too difficult to type with? Well, look no further! Fleksy keyboard is a big button keyboard with the visually impaired in mind.

 Finding an android keyboard with larger font isn’t easy, I must have installed at least a dozen on my phone since I got it and struggled to find a keyboard with big enough keys and a good contrast, then I stumbled upon Fleksy and have really enjoyed using it over the last week. Fleksy keyboard has much larger keys than the stock android keyboard and a lot larger font too. These make it much easier to type the right letter the first time around.

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Speech Synthesizer for Microsoft Office

January 16, 2014

Microsoft Windows and Free Screen-Reader

  President at Mattingly Low Vision, Inc.

The accessibility features of Windows make it possible for people with a range of conditions to use their computer more easily. A new partnership between Microsoft and GW Micro will ensure that Microsoft Office can be used easily by as many people as possible, including those with vision problems.

The partnership means that anyone who has purchased a copy of either Office 2010 or Office 2013 is entitled to download a free copy of the screen reading software Window-Eyes. The aim is to make Office accessible to people who are blind or have low vision.

The software can be used in conjunction with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 as well as Windows Server 2003 and newer.

An announcement on the Windows-Eyes website explains how the deal works:

“GW Micro, in collaboration with Microsoft, is excited to provide people who are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled with a completely functional and free license of GW Micro’s Window-Eyes screen reader. Microsoft is offering customers who have a licensed version of Office 2010 or later the ability to download Window-Eyes, a screen reader for Windows PCs, free of charge.”

Jack Mitchell rep for Indigo Logix

January 15, 2014

Indigo Logix, LLC is a company specializing in products and services for people with low vision and blindness.  With nearly 50 years of combined experience the Indigo Logix team is dedicated to transforming lives through technology. Along with Humanware, we are also a dealer for ABiSee, ai squared, and Tagarno (for the Ibis HD magnifier)

Jack Mitchell, our North Carolina representative, has experience working in the assistive technology field both as a sales representative in NC and as a rehabilitation engineer in TN.  He was employed as a rehabilitation engineer at East Tennessee Technology Access Center in Knoxville from
2000-2001, working with assistive technology for a wide array of disabilities.

Since moving to North Carolina, he has worked specifically with assistive technology for people with visual impairments.  Jack also is
available to provide assistive technology training and general tech support for individuals with visual impairments.  Contact him for details.

Jack Mitchell with Indigo Logix, LLC
phone at 919-260-8580.

Prodigi – Vision Reinvented from Humanware

January 15, 2014

Prodigi is the latest in low vision technology from Humanware, a long time leader in the field of AT for people with visual impairments.  Prodigi provides all of the features you would expect from a video magnifier, with the ability to display a live, crystal clear, digital image of whatever you place on the platform.


Beyond that, though, are Prodigi’s reading features.  In reading mode, Prodigi will capture an image of the whole page and allow you to magnify and navigate around the page with just the touch of a finger on the touchpad at the front of the platform.  Prodigi is customizable to your reading preferences, and includes a wizard that will take you through every step of that customization.

When reading, Prodigi’s Diamond Edge text will allow you to see your document with its original layout and any graphics, but with text that doesn’t get fuzzy as you zoom in  — it stays crisp and clear no matter how far you zoom in.

But you don’t have to be stuck at your desk to use the Prodigi!  Prodigi’s 2-in-1 design allows you to take the tablet computer that is the core of prodigi with you when you travel.  It can be used as a handheld video magnifier.  It can also be used to read documents that you have captured and saved at your desktop, or to capture documents while you are on the road.

If you would like more information about Prodigi or would like to arrange for a demonstration, please contact Jack Mitchell with Indigo Logix, LLC

by email at”  or
by phone at 919-260-8580

First Smartwatch for Visually Impaired

January 15, 2014

More than a watch, very nicely designed with advanced technology. So what is it?

Freevox Touch. The first truly portable device.


FreevoxTouch is a smart watch. This means that in addition to a speaking watch function for both blind and sighted, the FreevoxTouch is a memorecorder, a music player, and a stopwatch / countdown timer. All controlled through a touch screen and working on an Android operating system.

Everything is pronounced, or not .. that you determine yourself. Easily set your alarm, select 4 buttons in the corners of the screen or large buttons through which you can swipe. Change your high contrast settings or turn the screen off when you are not using it. Take memos “on the go” and save them in one of four folders. Connect your headphones and listen to your favorite music. The FreevoxTouch also tells you what time it is. Really a useful tool.

In the near future more applications for FreevoxTouch will be developed. Think of a daisy player or navigation system. The FreevoxTouch can even be used as storage if you need to carry documents. Your USB stick on your wrist and all in a very trendy designed watch! Come and see for yourself! The FreevoxTouch is coming this fall.