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New Vision Device Passes Virtual Collision Test for People with Tunnel Vision
Date:8/31/2009

BOSTON, Aug. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- A high-tech device that expands the visual field of patients with tunnel vision has passed a collision test in a walking simulator, according to scientists at Schepens Eye Research Institute, in a study published in the September issue of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. The study found that patients wearing this innovative device, consisting of a tiny camera, pocket-sized computer and a transparent computer display on a pair of glasses, were able to correctly judge potential collisions when "walking" in a virtual shopping mall. (Incorrect judgment could result in over reaction and actually contribute to an accident.)

"This is additional evidence that these glasses can help people with this debilitating condition," says Dr. Eli Peli, who invented them several years ago and has been testing and refining them ever since.

In previous research, Peli and his team found that the glasses significantly improved a person's ability to detect objects not in his/her visual field. The current study is the first to test the glasses while a person is in a potential collision situation.

Approximately one in 50 Americans over age 40 suffers from an eye disease, such as glaucoma or retinitis pigmentosa, that can lead to tunnel vision. Tunnel vision occurs when peripheral or side vision is destroyed, leaving only a small window of central vision. Tunnel vision can often cause the individual to bump into or trip over obstacles. "Navigating city streets or buildings can be quite challenging," says Dr. Peli.

To deal with tunnel vision, patients have relied on long canes to warn them of obstacles just in front of them. Glasses that act as reverse binoculars, miniaturizing and pulling in the missing parts of their visual field, have been tried in the past, but made things so small that detailed visual information is sacrificed.

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SOURCE Schepens Eye Research Institute
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