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Technique enhances digital television viewing for visually-impaired
Date:1/15/2008

Boston, MAScientists at Schepens Eye Research Institute have found that people with low vision can improve their ability to see and enjoy television with a new technique that allows them to enhance the contrast of images of people and objects of interest on their digital televisions. A study in the edition of the Journal of the Optical Society of America published online in November 2007 and issued in print in January 2008, demonstrates that patients with macular degeneration prefer watching TV with this contrast enhancement and that the level of enhancement they choose depends on how much vision they have lost with their disease.

Nearly four million Americans suffer from vision loss from diseases--such as macular degeneration--that impede their central vision and their ability to comfortably view the images on any television, cutting them off from a significant source of information and entertainment enjoyed by the mainstream. Often such patients cannot see faces of characters or other details that make a broadcast understandable. Some solutions have been special telescopic glasses, which can help patients see details but often cut off parts of the image, lessening context, and large television screens, which can be quite costly.

The new method--developed by Dr. Eli Peli, the Institutes low vision expert, the Moakley Scholar in Aging Eye Research, and a professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, is the latest of several image-enhancing innovations his research team has created to improve TV watching for the visually impaired. It is also the first developed for digital television images. We knew it was time to address the changing technology, says Peli, who pointed out that digital television will replace traditional television technology over the next few years due to government mandate.

Working within the decoder that makes digital television images possible, Peli and his colleagues were able to make a simple change
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Contact: Patti Jacobs
pjacobs12@comcast.net
617-868-0077
Schepens Eye Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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