Wearable Technology Shows Promise in Helping The Visually Impaired Improve Their Quality of Life

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is estimated that 253 million people live with vision impairment worldwide. Of this number, 217 million have moderate to severe vision impairment, while 36 million are blind. Even the simplest daily tasks can be challenging and complicated for them, leading to a life of seclusion and dependence.

As the global population ages, and with various degenerative eye diseases and those linked to illnesses such as diabetes increasing, these numbers are set to rise further. For now, medical and surgical interventions are usually unable to help people with such vision loss. However, there is hope in the form of wearable technology. Here are a few examples.

eSight Eyewear

This device displays a sizable 30° horizontal field of view, and has an in-built high-resolution camera and two organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays positioned near the eye. To prevent vertigo and nausea, the images are presented at latency below 100 ms, despite intensive CPU use.

eSight enables users to perceive images that are much better than what they can usually see. This results in significant gains in visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. In fact, many users noticed that their blind spots shrunk or totally vanished.

This device is suitable for patients with age-related macular disease or diabetic retinopathy. However, it is less effective for patients with retinitis pigmentosa and glaucoma.

Orcam My Eye

The Orcam hands-free device clips to glasses. Its miniature camera sees and recognizes what the user is viewing, whether text or a face, then it reads what it is seeing to the user through a small bone-conduction earpiece. The device can be activated by the user by simply pointing a finger to the object or text, tapping it or pressing a trigger button.

Twelve legally blind people, who all had a visual acuity of less than 20/200, participated in a pilot study to test the device. Without the device, the participants’ average score was 2.5 out of 10. When they initially tried the device, their average score improved to 9.5 out of 10. After a week of wearing the device, the average score increased to 9.8 out of 10.


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