Legally blind? New artificial vision device may help you read more clearly

By Rebecca Burton • Published: January 2nd, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Are you one of the 246 million people in the world who have low vision? Have you been diagnosed as being legally blind, and do you use bulky devices such as magnifying glasses to get through everyday tasks? Hang in there, because your dream of completing everyday tasks with ease may be one step closer.

A small study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Opthalmology found that a discreet, artificial vision device may help legally blind people read and recognize faces.

To conduct the study, researchers from the University of California at Davis tested the device on a group of 12 visually impaired patients with less than 20/200 vision to see how it changed their everyday lives. The device, which is called the Orcam My Eye, is small and clips to eye glasses, making it hands-free. It works by using a mini camera that recognizes what the user is seeing, be it text, a face or an object, and “reads” this back to the user via a small earpiece. To activate, the person wearing the device simply has to point to or tap the object or text, or press a trigger button on the device.

Each participant was given a test that simulates daily activities, such as reading and recognizing objects. They earned one point for each activity completed correctly, with a total possible score of 10. Results showed that without the device, the average score was 2.5 and with the device, the average score was 9.5. After one week of wearing the device, the participants raised their average score to 9.8.

The lead author notes he has no financial connection to the device company, which could provide real help by artificial means.