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  • Head-Mounted Display Technology for Low-Vision Rehabilitation and Vision Enhancement

    By Lynda Seminara and selected by Richard K. Parrish II, MD

    Journal Highlights

    American Journal of Ophthalmology, April 2017

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    Ehrlich et al. provided an overview of head-mounted display (HMD) technol­ogy and devices for vision rehabilita­tion and enhancement, including their potential advantages over conventional low-vision aids (LVAs). Drawing on key literature and professional experience, the authors noted that the newer tech­nology may be particularly helpful for patients with peripheral vision loss and that see-through displays such as reti­nal projection devices have the greatest potential as LVAs.

    Although many LVAs and rehabilita­tion strategies have been used for years, little is known about their efficacy. Traditionally, LVAs consisted of mag­nifiers, spectacle-mounted optical aids, and devices to enlarge images, increase illumination, improve contrast, and reduce glare.

    HMDs, originally developed for military use, have been adapted for low vision as costs decreased. They are a type of electronic visual aid that attaches to the user’s head and presents information directly to the user’s eyes. HMDs have been shown to improve constricted peripheral fields, night vision, and visual acuity; however, their effectiveness compared with standard LVAs has not been adequately studied. The display types and optical designs of HMD systems vary widely in terms of field of view, illumination, resolution, color, stereopsis, effect on head motion, user interface, and relationship to the user’s eyes. The selection of appropriate devices should be tailored to the unique needs of specific patient populations.

    The authors concluded that HMD systems may offer advantages over conventional LVAs, including the ability to couple image-processing software with a wearable display system. Use of HMDs is likely to increase as improve­ments are made to the displays, soft­ware capabilities, and aesthetic appear­ance of the systems. Future research is warranted to compare newer and older devices with respect to their ability to address the rehabilitation goals of diverse patients.

    The original article can be found here.