Virtual and Augmented Reality Devices can foster eye sight in vision-impaired individuals

Key Takeaways:

  • 100 million people down with Chronic Visual Impairment (VI) across the globe
  • Glaucoma the highest aggregator to VI closely followed by AMD and Cataracts
  • Head Mounted Displays (HMD) a boon for Glaucoma ridden patients


There are a 100 million people living across the globe who are down by a chronic visual impairment (VI). The most common reasons for this malady are glaucoma, Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. VI’s can be quite complicated and the maladies can be traced by their inherent characteristic. Glaucoma affects patients visibly in their peripheral vision and Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) visually impairs the eye in the center thus taking away his central vision. It must be however added that entire vision is not lost and the content in this regions are subtly degraded by becoming distorted and jumbled and faded. It must be noted that symptoms vary from individual to individual and symptom vary in proportion to the magnitude of damage in the eye.

The solution for these visual impairments is chalked out by simulations that target visually impaired people may experience. In medicine, simulations are present to educate the masses or to inform a particular healthcare provider about a particular individual’s needs.

VI have consisted of a either a motionless image or a pair of spectacles onto which a black image is superimposed to hide a particular region of the visual field. However, these imperfections are not the sole obstruction that VI impaired people observe, but in many ways the range of symptoms are not visibly translated in this approach.

A more recent approach is to superimpose a region of opacity to a contact lens and differing from SimSpecs, it trains the distortion to move in the eye’s direction. But here again, contact lens also do not give a true representation of a VI with large shadows existing in the retina, completely different from the spatial distortion as evoked by patients.

GLAUCOMA: A Shot in the Arm with HMD’s

It is an apt time to speak on Glaucoma with this being the Glaucoma Week 2020. This is a very opportune moment to present to you the ways and means to assist the glaucoma contracted patients with head mounted displays (HMD’s). HMD’s simulate the veritable challenges a glaucoma patient exhibits in his/her daily agenda.

Glaucoma is a malaise that affects the optic nerve at the back of the eye and constitutes a major cause of an irreversible eye impairment that befalls the elderly leading to irreversible blindness. Glaucoma represents a collective term for a host of eye maladies that affect an individual’s optic nerve at the back of the eye.

A study at Crabb labs, University of London has undertaken a study that could help policymakers better understand the signs of visual impairment on patients which will let architects design a more easily navigated building without its usual crop of avoidable  baloneys that make up a building infrastructure.

These were tasks cut out for volunteers who did not possess glaucoma and were asked to perform tasks in virtual or augmented reality with their HMD’s on. The participants were placed in a typically cluttered house where they had to move their eyes laterally to find a mobile phone hidden somewhere in there, This was a virtual reality task.

In an augmented reality task, participants had to pan the room with their cameras in the front of the HMD to navigate a real-like situation with a human sized mouse labyrinth viewed through cameras in front of the HMD.

Having done this, visual sensors tracked the position of the participant’s eye delivering a vision that was slightly dimmed also called the scotoma which impaired their vision whenever they looked.

It is the scotoma that was restricting the patient from observing anywhere with clarity and it was present either in the upper region or lower region of the eye. However, the scotoma was not visible in control trials.

It was noted however that likewise, patients with the simulated impairment were finding it difficult to get accustomed to their new habitat and were making more eye and head movements too. The occupants also likewise found that the tasks were difficult when the vision loss impeded the bottom part of their visual field. It also proved that some participants were better off with the impairment than others with an identical impairment.

The software the engineers designed in accordance with the visual impairment has been posted online for others to use and develop and artificially simulate the different symptoms faced by the participants and lined up with unmeasurable eye maladies.

Though it is impossible to gain an understanding of how and when glaucoma strikes, simulators can partially enhance one’s experience to the challenges one faces under the influence of being a glaucoma-ridden patient. We are experimenting with sight-loss simulators to find out a solution to bring about easily navigable housing complexes and transportation systems. Of late, a sophisticated simulator was developed that was integrated with a HMD integrated with a eye-tracking mechanism used to focus vision in Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (VR/AR). This hardware is locally available and the software is made commercially accessible in the market (OpenVisSIm) where by multiple differing symptoms can be simulated simultaneously and in real time. While wearing the HMD, the user is allowed to circulate freely and move his head and eyes. This only concurs that users are allowed to read the newspapers or make a cup of tea and more of these everyday actions.

It thus seconds that whatever you attempt to do, it will not happen in exactly the same way as would have been envisaged. Putting it rather bluntly, you cannot see through another’s eyes no matter what the case.      But this has been reiterated that these gaze-restricted HMD’s are the next best thing to happen to ocular designs and are of empirical ability. The same question rears its head again which is  can  OPENVISSIM be capable of bringing into the open all the difficulties posed to real-life glaucoma patients when a normal sighted person with OpenVisSim is capable of enlivening the same experience as the patient undergoing it. Glaucoma comes high up on the list of irreversible diseases with it being very hard to fathom by everybody as to why this man keep falling, or making accidents too often or lead a sedentary life when his central vision is dignified but lacks peripheral vision.  Glaucoma patients often find it difficult to track objects in a clustered visual scene and also exhibit increased risk of falls. Glaucoma patients tend to make a lot of head and eye movements to compensate for their constricted field of view.
An experiment to gain an upper hand in simulated impairment environment, 2 tasks have been assigned-One is a task that involves searching for a mobile in a virtual house and both the tasks were done with and without simulated visual field loss (VFL). Both the forms of VFL must increase search times but the effect should be greatest when VFL was low-down in order. The simulated vision loss is based on actual perimetric data from a real patient who has got glaucoma.

The screen shorts were noted from the VR simulator with virtual rooms configured to approximations keeping player proximity in mind and the outdoor scene was also rendered functional.


Augmented Reality Upcoming trends in 2020


Augmented Reality is gaining ground in 2020 having witnessed record growth in 2019 with the big technology players out in the middle including Microsoft, Google, Apple and Amazon creating market ripples. The year 2020 will see a massive head-start to growth. Some products that were exhibited at a  number of tech events which were Augmented World Expo and Consumer Electronics Show.

The advent of Apples ARKIT and Google’s ARCORE    Software Development Kits (SDK) has opened the doors to product innovation in terms of Augmented Reality (AR) creation and quadrupled the number of active users in the past 1.5 years. ARKIT’s dominance over Arcore is at a very healthy note but Arocre’s sale in revenue growth is almost 10 times the former. It is for all to see that Arcore’s compatible Android devices grew from 250 million in 2018 to 400 million in 2019.

Another trend for AR technologies is indoor navigation and 2020 is expected to be the year that the consumer gets the first impactful portrait of its potential. If maps were the succour outside that people draw on so heavily to reach places, indoor navigation has its greatness attributed to ARKIT and ARCORE based applications that provides directions in Airport, Malls, Hospitals and Office Campuses.