A.P.Nishad Begum, M.optom
Lecturer, Abhaya College of Optometry, Bangalore, India
Low Vision is defined as BCVA ( Best Corrected Visual Acuity) worse than 20/40 in the better eye, Substantial visual field loss or substantial loss of contrast sensitivity that cannot be corrected by refraction, medical treatment, or surgery.(1) There are varieties of aids available like Optical aids, Non-optical aids which assist the low vision patients to best utilize the residual functional vision and perform the basic activities of daily living. The use of computers and mobile phones have remarkably improved the functionality of a low vision patient mainly by the usage of mobile apps & software-based low vision aids.(1)
Software-based low vision aids work with many operating systems which provide electronic display magnification by increasing the character font size. Special electronic magnification software packages such as ZOOM TEXT XTRA, MAGIC, etc. magnify texts and the graphics. Electronic display magnifications using software have many advantages over the use of optical devices. Electronic displays provide a greater range of magnification, contrast enhancements, luminance control, reverse contrast, modify the size of the font, and allows to customize the colour combination of characters, as well as allow a greater working distance. (2)
Available software in the market today for visual impairment patients are MAGIC, JAWS, big-shot screen, Zoom text Xtra. But more than a computer nowadays everyone is carrying a mobile phone, without which in this era it is very difficult to sustain. Low vision patients are no exception. Use of smartphones allowing them to use all the technology in the best way. With the usage of tablets & smartphones has increased among low vision patients, Danielle et al., in their study in 2014 concluded that more research is required to define which accessibility features on smartphones & tablets offer a clinically significant value to certain low vision patients in terms of fastest reading rate considering the central visual acuity, visual field, and loss of contrast sensitivity too. (1)
Nowadays to rehabilitate and improve the quality of low vision in a patient’s life innovations in technology offer additional options. Especially IOS (I phone operating system) & OS (windows operating system) platforms are coming up with many apps into the market for the betterment of low vision people life. (3)
|Locate specific objects such as chair, door, trashcan, or person by scanning the environment with the camera.||Read texts, documents, handwriting quickly using our unique auto-camera guidance system & zooming in and out the objects, magnifying it.||Explore new & unfamiliar environments and hear about the objects that are around them.
& read text on photos & pdf from other apps
|Track locations, maps|
|-Super sense helps blind & visually impaired
-Kibo, accessibility for all
-Let see app
-Blind people games
-Ray vision for the visually impaired
-Sea-virtual assistant for blind
-Visor-low vision magnifier app
-Right heat-blind & vi
-Read for the blind
-Now you see
-a colourful world
|-Lookout by google
-Be my eyes
-Get there gps for blind
Table-1: Apps in Play Store & their uses(4)
Figure-1: Different apps for mobile operating systems in play store.
These apps illustrated in fig 1 are supported in both iOS & windows operating systems Mobile phones. These apps can be easily installed & low-vision patients can make the best use of them
|1) Bigger and Brighter:
Turns a smartphone into a portable electronics magnifier with variable magnification and contrast.
|2) I Books:
Helps in enlarging the font size of the e-book, as well as interfaces seamlessly with both Voiceover and speak selection
|3) Zoom contacts:
Helps the user to choose from four different font sizes and four different colours schemes while managing their address book
|4) Look Tel:
Reads all paper currency as well as that of 20 different countries around the world simply using the smartphone camera, giving audio feedback as to the correct amount.
Table-2: Apps on smartphones and tablets for low vision patients(5)
Technology combining with artificial intelligence is bringing remarkable innovations for the betterment of the visually impaired. All these apps not only describe things but also solve problems for blind & visually impaired users.
- Irvine, D., Zemke, A., Pusateri, G., Gerlach, L., Chun, R., & Jay, W. M. (2014). Tablet and smartphone accessibility features in the low vision rehabilitation. Neuro-ophthalmology, 38(2), 53-59.
- RIEDEL, T. (2018). Visual Impairment, Blindness and Cataract Prevalence in Institutionalized Vs. Community-dwelling Elderly: A Meta-analysis of Prevalence Rates and Evaluation of Trends Since 1985 (Doctoral dissertation, Case Western Reserve University).
- Fruchterman, J. R. (2003). In the palm of your hand: A vision of the future of technology for people with visual impairments. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 97(10), 585-591.
- Kuber, R., Hastings, A., & Tretter, M. (2020). Determining the accessibility of mobile screen readers for blind users. UMBC Faculty Collection.