Help for People with Tunnel Vision

In the first study to evaluate this small high tech device, the research team saw a significant increase in the effectiveness and speed with which visually impaired individuals found objects. "We are very pleased with the results of this first evaluation and hope that with further study and refinement, we may soon make this device available for the public," says low vision expert Dr. Eli Peli, the inventor, a senior scientist at Schepens, and a professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and the senior author of the study,

Peli's new visual aid allows the patients to see detailed visual information through the transparent display, while also viewing a superimposed minified outline version of a wider visual field. The tiny computer-video system provides updated outline information 30 times per second. When a patient becomes aware of a possible obstacle or important object in the superimposed outline image, he can move his head and eyes to look directly at the object through the display.

The purpose of the current study was to evaluate how effective the device would be in helping people with tunnel vision when searching for objects. Twelve patients with tunnel vision were asked to find targets that were projected outside their residual visual fields. The researchers found that the search directness was greatly improved for all patients when the device was used. They also found a significant reduction in search time (22%) in patients with a visual field wider than 10º.

Tunnel vision occurs as a result of diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and glaucoma. Residual tunnel vision occurs when peripheral or side vision is destroyed, leaving only a small window of central vision. The field of view of these patients can be likened to looking through the tube of a roll of paper towels.; Source: Schepens Eye Research Institute