Approximately 217 million people worldwide currently suffer from low vision, which impact a broad range of activities of daily living and is associated with depression and increased mortality. Over half of the patients presenting for low vision services have eye disease that affects the fovea and surrounding macula and leads to central vision loss (CVL). People with CVL are forced to use eccentric vision as a substitute for their impaired fovea, however eye movement control and visual function is impaired with eccentric vision. This proposal brings together basic and clinical vision scientists at Northeastern University, the Lighthouse Guild and New England College of Optometry in order to help people with CVL to learn to use their remaining vision more effectively. Recent evidence shows that rehabilitation methods can help improve oculomotor control and this can lead to improved functional outcomes. We have developed new feedback-based methods that aim to improve eccentric vision training in patients with CVL. In a series of studies we examine rehabilitation of fixation control, smooth pursuit eye movements that track moving objects and saccadic eye movements that abruptly change the point of regard. We examine how visual feedback, scotoma awareness methods and hand-eye coordination can improve eccentric vision usage. Improvements in oculomotor control are quantified with eye tracking methods and associated changes in visual function are quantified with acuity, contrast sensitivity and reading performance. The proposed research therefore develops and translates state-of-the-art methods in basic science to clinical applications. Accomplishing the proposed aims will provide new and improved methods for rehabilitation strategies for visual impairment. The ultimate goal of this proposal is to maximize the residual visual function of people with low vision and to help them to live independently, thereby improving quality of life and minimizing the economic and social burden of visual impairment.
Low Vision affects approximately 217 million people worldwide and is associated a broad range of economic and health related deficits. This project contributes directly and immediately to public health by developing new rehabilitation methods to help people with low vision to live more independent lives.