Low vision services include rehabilitation as well as visual aids. The patients individual needs often require more understanding so various research groups are learning how to offer support services with rehabilitation facilities.
A great starting point to access the low vision resources of the world is at the Low Vision Gateway. This is a very complete site with links to places not easily found on the net.
While high-tech electronic and optical aids are being offered to some patients, others are more interested in receiving help with the daily chores of ordinary living. In almost every state and province there are low vision research and rehabilitation centers that offer a wide range of help and self-help services. The American Health Assistance Foundation in Rockford MD is one of these resource centers.
The Blindness Resource Center has a long list of national and international organizations offering services to the vision impaired community. An excellent resource for those seeking local information. One of their web pages has links to commercial sites that offer low vision assistance products.
One exiting development is an electronic gizmo called LVES (low vision enhancement system). It is similar to the new virtual reality headgear as seen in some recent sci-fi movies. The head worn miniature television cameras and display screens project a variable field of view at some variable magnification directly in front of the patients eyes.
IBM Special Needs Systems offers a unique chance to try out a free demo program called Home Page Reader. Using only a few keypad controls, the world wide web is surfed and spoken via the computer sound card. I have tried it and I am really impressed at how easy it is to use. I think it is worth around $200 but the demo is really impressive, try it yourself.
By magnifying images and enhancing contrast the patient views something comparable to a 60" TV at a distance of 4 feet. Reverse video, variable zoom, direct video inputs, and computer inputs are some of the features that make this a promising visual aid for those that can afford its $7000+ price tag. More detailed LVES device information is available from Lions Vision Research & Rehabilitation Center Baltimore, Maryland.
A North Carolina research firm, OCUTECH offers several custom optical systems including a new VES vision enhancement system which is a pair of glasses with an autofocus telescopic lens attached.
The OVAC Vision- Aide Personal Reading System is a camera like device that outputs enlarged views to a standard television set or a color headset monitor.
The Low Vision Network provides an internet resource for researchers, clinicians and others with an interest in low vision. Here you can learn about recent and ongoing research in low vision, and find links to FAQ's, support groups, discussion groups and other related resources.
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