Glasses embedded with a telescope promise to make it easier for people with impaired vision to drive and do other activities requiring sharper distance vision. Schepens Eye Research Institute scientists describe the advantages of these innovative glasses over earlier devices in an article published in the May/June issue of Journal of Biomedical Optics, mailed in print form to subscribers this month.
"This new design has several advantages," says the inventor of the glasses, Dr. Eli Peli, who is a senior scientist at Schepens Eye Research Institute, a professor at Harvard Medical School, a low vision expert, and the senior author of the paper. "One major advantage is the appearance of the glasses. Because they look almost like normal everyday spectacles, it is more likely that visually impaired people will use them," says Peli, who adds that the glasses are easier to use than existing telescope models because of a wider magnified view and easier access to that view. Most importantly, shifting the magnified view up leaves the unmagnified view of the road unobstructed, which is important for safety and facilitates navigation.
Tiny telescopes (known as Biotics) mounted on glasses to help people with visual impairments have been in existence for about 60 years. They are permitted for use in driving by 39 states. These telescopes enable a visually impaired driver to read road signs and see other objects essential for safe driving, while also viewing the larger scene in front of the vehicle. In previous designs, the telescope is mounted through the top of the regular lens or above the frame. In both cases, the telescopic eyepiece is above the wearer's pupil, requiring the driver to tilt his/her head up and down rapidly to view alternatively the magnified and unmagnified scenes. Drivers use the telescope only for a very small fraction of the driving time, looking through the regular spectacle lens most of the time.
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Schepens Eye Research Institute