Mobility Enhancement & Vision Rehabilitation

Mobility Enhancement & Vision Rehabilitation Publications

Hoogsteen KMP, Szpiro S, Kreiman G, Peli E. Beyond the Cane: Describing Urban Scenes to Blind People for Mobility Tasks. ACM Trans Access Comput 2022;15(3)Abstract
Blind people face difficulties with independent mobility, impacting employment prospects, social inclusion, and quality of life. Given the advancements in computer vision, with more efficient and effective automated information extraction from visual scenes, it is important to determine what information is worth conveying to blind travelers, especially since people have a limited capacity to receive and process sensory information. We aimed to investigate which objects in a street scene are useful to describe and how those objects should be described. Thirteen cane-using participants, five of whom were early blind, took part in two urban walking experiments. In the first experiment, participants were asked to voice their information needs in the form of questions to the experimenter. In the second experiment, participants were asked to score scene descriptions and navigation instructions, provided by the experimenter, in terms of their usefulness. The descriptions included a variety of objects with various annotations per object. Additionally, we asked participants to rank order the objects and the different descriptions per object in terms of priority and explain why the provided information is or is not useful to them. The results reveal differences between early and late blind participants. Late blind participants requested information more frequently and prioritized information about objects' locations. Our results illustrate how different factors, such as the level of detail, relative position, and what type of information is provided when describing an object, affected the usefulness of scene descriptions. Participants explained how they (indirectly) used information, but they were frequently unable to explain their ratings. The results distinguish between various types of travel information, underscore the importance of featuring these types at multiple levels of abstraction, and highlight gaps in current understanding of travel information needs. Elucidating the information needs of blind travelers is critical for the development of more useful assistive technologies.
Manley CE, Bennett CR, Merabet LB. Assessing Higher-Order Visual Processing in Cerebral Visual Impairment Using Naturalistic Virtual-Reality-Based Visual Search Tasks. Children (Basel) 2022;9(8)Abstract
Cerebral visual impairment (CVI) is a brain-based disorder associated with the maldevelopment of central visual pathways. Individuals with CVI often report difficulties with daily visual search tasks such as finding a favorite toy or familiar person in cluttered and crowded scenes. We developed two novel virtual reality (VR)-based visual search tasks combined with eye tracking to objectively assess higher order processing abilities in CVI. The first (virtual toybox) simulates a static object search, while the second (virtual hallway) represents a dynamic human search task. Participants were instructed to search for a preselected target while task demand was manipulated with respect to the presence of surrounding distractors. We found that CVI participants (when compared to age-matched controls) showed an overall impairment with visual search on both tasks and with respect to all gaze metrics. Furthermore, CVI participants showed a trend of worsening performance with increasing task demand. Finally, search performance was also impaired in CVI participants with normal/near normal visual acuity, suggesting that reduced stimulus visibility alone does not account for these observations. This novel approach may have important clinical utility in helping to assess environmental factors related to functional visual processing difficulties observed in CVI.
Xu J, Baliutaviciute V, Swan G, Bowers AR. Driving With Hemianopia X: Effects of Cross Traffic on Gaze Behaviors and Pedestrian Responses at Intersections. Front Hum Neurosci 2022;16:938140.Abstract
Purpose: We conducted a driving simulator study to investigate the effects of monitoring intersection cross traffic on gaze behaviors and responses to pedestrians by drivers with hemianopic field loss (HFL). Methods: Sixteen HFL and sixteen normal vision (NV) participants completed two drives in an urban environment. At 30 intersections, a pedestrian ran across the road when the participant entered the intersection, requiring a braking response to avoid a collision. Intersections with these pedestrian events had either (1) no cross traffic, (2) one approaching car from the side opposite the pedestrian location, or (3) two approaching cars, one from each side at the same time. Results: Overall, HFL drivers made more (p < 0.001) and larger (p = 0.016) blind- than seeing-side scans and looked at the majority (>80%) of cross-traffic on both the blind and seeing sides. They made more numerous and larger gaze scans (p < 0.001) when they fixated cars on both sides (compared to one or no cars) and had lower rates of unsafe responses to blind- but not seeing-side pedestrians (interaction, p = 0.037). They were more likely to demonstrate compensatory blind-side fixation behaviors (faster time to fixate and longer fixation durations) when there was no car on the seeing side. Fixation behaviors and unsafe response rates were most similar to those of NV drivers when cars were fixated on both sides. Conclusion: For HFL participants, making more scans, larger scans and safer responses to pedestrians crossing from the blind side were associated with looking at cross traffic from both directions. Thus, cross traffic might serve as a reminder to scan and provide a reference point to guide blind-side scanning of drivers with HFL. Proactively checking for cross-traffic cars from both sides could be an important safety practice for drivers with HFL.
Xu J, Emmermann B, Bowers AR. Auditory Reminder Cues to Promote Proactive Scanning on Approach to Intersections in Drivers With Homonymous Hemianopia: Driving With Hemianopia, IX. JAMA Ophthalmol 2022;140(1):75-78.Abstract
Importance: Individuals with homonymous hemianopia (HH) are permitted to drive in some jurisdictions. They could compensate for their hemifield vision loss by scanning toward the blind side. However, some drivers with HH do not scan adequately well to the blind side when approaching an intersection, resulting in delayed responses to hazards. Objective: To evaluate whether auditory reminder cues promoted proactive scanning on approach to intersections. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cross-sectional, single-visit driving simulator study was conducted from October 2018 to May 2019 at a vision rehabilitation research laboratory. A volunteer sample of individuals with HH without visual neglect are included in this analysis. This post hoc analysis was completed in July and August 2020. Main Outcomes and Measures: Participants completed drives with and without scanning reminder cues (a single tone from a speaker on the blind side). Scanning was quantified by the percentage of intersections at which an early large scan was made (a scan with a head movement of at least 20° made before 30 m from the intersection). Responses to motorcycle hazards at intersections were quantified by the time to the first fixation and the time to the horn-press response. Results: Sixteen individuals were recruited and completed the study. Two were subsequently excluded from analyses. Thus, data from 14 participants (median [IQR] age, 54 [36-66] years; 13 men [93%]) were included. Stroke was the primary cause of the HH (10 participants [71%]). Six (43%) had right-sided HH. Participants were more likely to make an early large scan to the blind side in drives with vs without cues (65% vs 45%; difference, 20% [95% CI, 5%-37%]; P < .001). When participants made an early large scan to the blind side, they were faster to make their first fixation on blind-side motorcycles (mean [SD], 1.77 [1.34] vs 3.88 [1.17] seconds; difference, -2.11 [95% CI, -2.46 to -1.75] seconds; P < .001) and faster to press the horn (mean [SD], 2.54 [1.19] vs 4.54 [1.37] seconds; difference, -2.00 [95% CI, -2.38 to -1.62] seconds; P < .001) than when they did not make an early scan. Conclusions and Relevance: This post hoc analysis suggests that auditory reminder cues may promote proactive scanning, which may be associated with faster responses to hazards. This hypothesis should be considered in future prospective studies.
Jung J-H, Kurukuti NM, Peli E. Photographic Depiction of the Field of View with Spectacles-mounted Low Vision Aids. Optom Vis Sci 2021;98(10):1210-1226.Abstract
SIGNIFICANCE: Photographic depiction helps to illustrate the primary and secondary field of view effects of low vision devices along with their utility to clinicians, patients, and caretakers. This technique may also be helpful for designers and researchers in improving the design and fitting of low vision devices. PURPOSE: The field of view through spectacles-mounted low vision devices has typically been evaluated using perimetry. However, the perimetric field diagram is different from the retinal image and often fails to represent the important aspects of the field of view and visual parameters. We developed a photographic depiction method to record and veridically show the field of view effects of these devices. METHODS: We used a 3D-printed holder to place spectacles-mounted devices at the same distance from the empirically determined reference point of the field of view in a camera lens (f = 16 mm) as they would be from an eye, when in use. The field of view effects of a bioptic telescope, a minifier (reverse telescope), and peripheral prisms were captured using a conventional camera, representing retinal images. The human eye pupil size (adjusting the F number: f/2.8 to f/8 and f/22 in the camera lens) and fitting parameters (pantoscopic tilt and back vertex distance) varied. RESULTS: Real-world indoor and outdoor walking and driving scenarios were depicted as retinal images illustrating the field of view through low vision devices, distinguishing optical and obscuration scotomas, and demonstrating secondary effects (spatial distortions, viewpoint changes, diplopia, spurious reflection, and multiplexing effects) not illustrated by perimetric field diagrams. CONCLUSIONS: Photographic depiction illustrates the primary and secondary field of view effects of the low vision devices. These images highlight the benefit and possible trade-offs of the low vision devices and may be beneficial in education and training.
Wiegand I, Wolfe JM. Target value and prevalence influence visual foraging in younger and older age. Vision Res 2021;186:87-102.Abstract
The prevalence and reward-value of targets have an influence on visual search. The strength of the effect of an item's reward-value on attentional selection varies substantially between individuals and is potentially sensitive to aging. We investigated individual and age differences in a hybrid foraging task, in which the prevalence and value of multiple target types was varied. Using optimal foraging theory measures, foraging was more efficient overall in younger than older observers. However, the influence of prevalence and value on target selections was similar across age groups, suggesting that the underlying cognitive mechanisms are preserved in older age. When prevalence was varied but target value was balanced, younger and older observers preferably selected the most frequent target type and were biased to select another instance of the previously selected target type. When value was varied, younger and older observers showed a tendency to select high-value targets, but preferences were more diverse between individuals. When value and prevalence were inversely related, some observers showed particularly strong preferences for high-valued target types, while others showed a preference for high-prevalent, albeit low-value, target types. In younger adults, individual differences in the selection choices correlated with a personality index, suggesting that avoiding selections of low-value targets may be related to reward-seeking behaviour.
Muralidharan S, Ichhpujani P, Bhartiya S, Singh RB. Eye-tunes: role of music in ophthalmology and vision sciences. Ther Adv Ophthalmol 2021;13:25158414211040890.Abstract
Although the healing effect of music has been recognized since time immemorial, there has been a renewed interest in its use in modern medicine. This can be attributed to the increasing focus on holistic healing and on the subjective and objective aspects of well-being. In ophthalmology, this has ranged from using music for patients undergoing diagnostic procedures and surgery, as well as for doctors and the operation theatre staff during surgical procedures. Music has proven to be a potent nonpharmacological sedative and anxiolytic, allaying both the pain and stress of surgery. This review aims to explore the available evidence about the role of music as an adjunct for diagnostic and surgical procedures in current ophthalmic practices.
Avraham D, Jung J-H, Yitzhaky Y, Peli E. Retinal prosthetic vision simulation: temporal aspects. J Neural Eng 2021;18(4)Abstract
Objective. The perception of individuals fitted with retinal prostheses is not fully understood, although several retinal implants have been tested and commercialized. Realistic simulations of perception with retinal implants would be useful for future development and evaluation of such systems.Approach.We implemented a retinal prosthetic vision simulation, including temporal features, which have not been previously simulated. In particular, the simulation included temporal aspects such as persistence and perceptual fading of phosphenes and the electrode activation rate.Main results.The simulated phosphene persistence showed an effective reduction in flickering at low electrode activation rates. Although persistence has a positive effect on static scenes, it smears dynamic scenes. Perceptual fading following continuous stimulation affects prosthetic vision of both static and dynamic scenes by making them disappear completely or partially. However, we showed that perceptual fading of a static stimulus might be countered by head-scanning motions, which together with the persistence revealed the contours of the faded object. We also showed that changing the image polarity may improve simulated prosthetic vision in the presence of persistence and perceptual fading.Significance.Temporal aspects have important roles in prosthetic vision, as illustrated by the simulations. Considering these aspects may improve the future design, the training with, and evaluation of retinal prostheses.
Pundlik S, Baliutaviciute V, Moharrer M, Bowers AR, Luo G. Home-Use Evaluation of a Wearable Collision Warning Device for Individuals With Severe Vision Impairments: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Ophthalmol 2021;139(9):998-1005.Abstract
Importance: There is scant rigorous evidence about the real-world mobility benefit of electronic mobility aids. Objective: To evaluate the effect of a collision warning device on the number of contacts experienced by blind and visually impaired people in their daily mobility. Design, Setting, and Participants: In this double-masked randomized clinical trial, participants used a collision warning device during their daily mobility over a period of 4 weeks. A volunteer sample of 31 independently mobile individuals with severe visual impairments, including total blindness and peripheral visual field restrictions, who used a long cane or guide dog as their habitual mobility aid completed the study. The study was conducted from January 2018 to December 2019. Interventions: The device automatically detected collision hazards using a chest-mounted video camera. It randomly switched between 2 modes: active mode (intervention condition), where it provided alerts for detected collision threats via 2 vibrotactile wristbands, and silent mode (control condition), where the device still detected collisions but did not provide any warnings to the user. Scene videos along with the collision warning information were recorded by the device. Potential collisions detected by the device were reviewed and scored, including contacts with the hazards, by 2 independent reviewers. Participants and reviewers were masked to the device operation mode. Main Outcomes and Measures: Rate of contacts per 100 hazards per hour, compared between the 2 device modes within each participant. Modified intention-to-treat analysis was used. Results: Of the 31 included participants, 18 (58%) were male, and the median (range) age was 61 (25-73) years. A total of 19 participants (61%) had a visual acuity (VA) of light perception or worse, and 28 (90%) reported a long cane as their habitual mobility aid. The median (interquartile range) number of contacts was lower in the active mode compared with silent mode (9.3 [6.6-14.9] vs 13.8 [6.9-24.3]; difference, 4.5; 95% CI, 1.5-10.7; P < .001). Controlling for demographic characteristics, presence of VA better than light perception, and fall history, the rate of contacts significantly reduced in the active mode compared with the silent mode (β = 0.63; 95% CI, 0.54-0.73; P < .001). Conclusions and Relevance: In this study involving 31 visually impaired participants, the collision warnings were associated with a reduced rate of contacts with obstacles in daily mobility, indicating the potential of the device to augment habitual mobility aids. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03057496.

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