Mobility Enhancement & Vision Rehabilitation

Haun AM, Peli E. Similar Sensitivity to Ladder Contours in Macular Degeneration Patients and Controls. PLoS One 2015;10(7):e0128119.Abstract

PURPOSE: To determine whether people with central field loss (CFL) from macular degeneration have improved ability to recognize a particularly difficult spatial configuration embedded in noise, the peripherally-viewed 'ladder contour'. The visibility of these configuration has been linked to general contour integration ability and crowding limitations in peripheral vision. METHODS: We used a trial-based yes-no task. CFL patients and normally-sighted controls performed the task, looking for ladder contours embedded in a field of randomly oriented Gabor patches, at a range of stimulus presentation times (varying stimulus difficulty). Viewing eccentricity in CFL patients was set by their preferred retinal loci (PRLs) and matched artificially in the control group. The contours were presented so as to be tangent to the CFL region, given a patient's PRL location. RESULTS: CFL and normally-sighted groups performed similarly on the task. The only significant determinant of performance was the viewing eccentricity. CONCLUSIONS: CFL patients do not seem to develop any improved ability to recognize ladder contours with their parafoveal retina, which suggests that there is no underlying improvement in contour integration or reduction in crowding limitations in the region of the PRL despite extended daily use.

Houston KE, Woods RL, Goldstein RB, Peli E, Luo G, Bowers AR. Asymmetry in the Collision Judgments of People With Homonymous Field Defects and Left Hemispatial Neglect. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2015;56(6):4135-42.Abstract

PURPOSE: Although the impact of homonymous visual field defects (HFDs) on mobility has been investigated previously, the emphasis has been on obstacle detection. Relatively little is known about HFD patients' ability to judge collisions once an obstacle is detected. We investigated this using a walking simulator. METHODS: Patients with HFDs (n = 29) and subjects with normal vision (NV; n = 21) were seated in front of a large screen on which a visual simulation of walking was displayed. They made collision judgments for a human figure that appeared for 1 second at lateral offsets from the virtual walking path. A perceived-collision threshold was calculated for right and left sides. RESULTS: Symmetrical collision thresholds (same on left and right sides) were measured for participants with NV (n = 21), and right (n = 9) and left (n = 7) HFD without hemispatial neglect. Participants with left neglect (n = 10) showed significant asymmetry with thresholds smaller (compared to the NV group and other HFD groups) on the blind (P < 0.001) and larger on the seeing (P = 0.05) sides. Despite the asymmetry, the overall width of the zone of perceived collision risk was not different, suggesting a relatively uniform rightward deviation in judgments of the left neglect group. CONCLUSIONS: Left neglect was associated with rightward asymmetry in collision judgments, which may cause collisions on the left side even when an obstacle is detected. These behaviors may represent the spatial misperceptions in body midline described previously in patients with left neglect.

García-Pérez MA, Peli E. Aniseikonia Tests: The Role of Viewing Mode, Response Bias, and Size-Color Illusions. Transl Vis Sci Technol 2015;4(3):9.Abstract

PURPOSE: To identify the factors responsible for the poor validity of the most common aniseikonia tests, which involve size comparisons of red-green stimuli presented haploscopically. METHODS: Aniseikonia was induced by afocal size lenses placed before one eye. Observers compared the sizes of semicircles presented haploscopically via color filters. The main factor under study was viewing mode (free viewing versus short presentations under central fixation). To eliminate response bias, a three-response format allowed observers to respond if the left, the right, or neither semicircle appeared larger than the other. To control decisional (criterion) bias, measurements were taken with the lens-magnified stimulus placed on the left and on the right. To control for size-color illusions, measurements were made with color filters in both arrangements before the eyes and under binocular vision (without color filters). RESULTS: Free viewing resulted in a systematic underestimation of lens-induced aniseikonia that was absent with short presentations. Significant size-color illusions and decisional biases were found that would be mistaken for aniseikonia unless appropriate action is taken. CONCLUSIONS: To improve their validity, aniseikonia tests should use short presentations and include control conditions to prevent contamination from decisional/response biases. If anaglyphs are used, presence of size-color illusions must be checked for. TRANSLATIONAL RELEVANCE: We identified optimal conditions for administration of aniseikonia tests and appropriate action for differential diagnosis of aniseikonia in the presence of response biases or size-color illusions. Our study has clinical implications for aniseikonia management.

Goldstein JE, Jackson ML, Fox SM, Deremeik JT, Massof RW, Massof RW. Clinically Meaningful Rehabilitation Outcomes of Low Vision Patients Served by Outpatient Clinical Centers. JAMA Ophthalmol 2015;133(7):762-9.Abstract

IMPORTANCE: To facilitate comparative clinical outcome research in low vision rehabilitation, we must use patient-centered measurements that reflect clinically meaningful changes in visual ability. OBJECTIVE: To quantify the effects of currently provided low vision rehabilitation (LVR) on patients who present for outpatient LVR services in the United States. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Prospective, observational study of new patients seeking outpatient LVR services. From April 2008 through May 2011, 779 patients from 28 clinical centers in the United States were enrolled in the Low Vision Rehabilitation Outcomes Study. The Activity Inventory, a visual function questionnaire, was administered to measure overall visual ability and visual ability in 4 functional domains (reading, mobility, visual motor function, and visual information processing) at baseline and 6 to 9 months after usual LVR care. The Geriatric Depression Scale, Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status, and Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey physical functioning questionnaires were also administered to measure patients' psychological, cognitive, and physical health states, respectively, and clinical findings of patients were provided by study centers. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Mean changes in the study population and minimum clinically important differences in the individual in overall visual ability and in visual ability in 4 functional domains as measured by the Activity Inventory. RESULTS: Baseline and post-rehabilitation measures were obtained for 468 patients. Minimum clinically important differences (95% CIs) were observed in nearly half (47% [95% CI, 44%-50%]) of patients in overall visual ability. The prevalence rates of patients with minimum clinically important differences in visual ability in functional domains were reading (44% [95% CI, 42%-48%]), visual motor function (38% [95% CI, 36%-42%]), visual information processing (33% [95% CI, 31%-37%]), and mobility (27% [95% CI, 25%-31%]). The largest average effect size (Cohen d = 0.87) for the population was observed in overall visual ability. Age (P = .006) was an independent predictor of changes in overall visual ability, and logMAR visual acuity (P = .002) was predictive of changes in visual information processing. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Forty-four to fifty percent of patients presenting for outpatient LVR show clinically meaningful differences in overall visual ability after LVR, and the average effect sizes in overall visual ability are large, close to 1 SD.

Shen J, Peli E, Bowers AR. Peripheral Prism Glasses: Effects of Moving and Stationary Backgrounds. Optom Vis Sci 2015;92(4):412-420.Abstract

PURPOSE: Unilateral peripheral prisms for homonymous hemianopia (HH) expand the visual field through peripheral binocular visual confusion, a stimulus for binocular rivalry that could lead to reduced predominance and partial suppression of the prism image, thereby limiting device functionality. Using natural-scene images and motion videos, we evaluated whether detection was reduced in binocular compared with monocular viewing. METHODS: Detection rates of nine participants with HH or quadranopia and normal binocularity wearing peripheral prisms were determined for static checkerboard perimetry targets briefly presented in the prism expansion area and the seeing hemifield. Perimetry was conducted under monocular and binocular viewing with targets presented over videos of real-world driving scenes and still frame images derived from those videos. RESULTS: With unilateral prisms, detection rates in the prism expansion area were significantly lower in binocular than in monocular (prism eye) viewing on the motion background (medians, 13 and 58%, respectively, p = 0.008) but not the still frame background (medians, 63 and 68%, p = 0.123). When the stimulus for binocular rivalry was reduced by fitting prisms bilaterally in one HH and one normally sighted subject with simulated HH, prism-area detection rates on the motion background were not significantly different (p > 0.6) in binocular and monocular viewing. CONCLUSIONS: Conflicting binocular motion appears to be a stimulus for reduced predominance of the prism image in binocular viewing when using unilateral peripheral prisms. However, the effect was only found for relatively small targets. Further testing is needed to determine the extent to which this phenomenon might affect the functionality of unilateral peripheral prisms in more real-world situations.

Pundlik SJ, Tomasi M, Luo G. Evaluation of a portable collision warning device for patients with peripheral vision loss in an obstacle course. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2015;Abstract

PURPOSE: A pocket-sized collision warning device equipped with a video camera was developed to predict impending collisions based on time to collision rather than proximity. A study was conducted in a high density obstacle course to evaluate the effect of the device on collision avoidance in people with peripheral field loss (PFL). METHODS: The 41 meter long loop-shaped obstacle course consisted of 46 stationary obstacles from floor to head level, and oncoming pedestrians. Twenty five patients with tunnel vision (n = 13) or hemianopia (n = 12) completed 4 consecutive loops with and without the device, while not using any other habitual mobility aid. Walking direction and device usage order were counterbalanced. Number of collisions and preferred percentage of walking speed (PPWS) were compared within subjects. RESULTS: Collisions were reduced significantly by about 37% (p < 0.001) with the device (Floor-level obstacles were excluded because the device was not designed for them). No patient had more collisions when using the device. While the PPWS also reduced with the device from 52% to 49% (p = 0.053), this did not account for the lower number of collisions, as the changes in collisions and PPWS were not correlated (p = 0.516). CONCLUSIONS: The device may help patients with a wide range of PFL avoid collisions with high-level obstacles and barely affect their walking speed.

Bauer C, Yazzolino L, Hirsch G, Cattaneo Z, Vecchi T, Merabet LB. Neural correlates associated with superior tactile symmetry perception in the early blind. Cortex 2015;63:104-117.Abstract
Symmetry is an organizational principle that is ubiquitous throughout the visual world. However, this property can also be detected through non-visual modalities such as touch. The role of prior visual experience on detecting tactile patterns containing symmetry remains unclear. We compared the behavioral performance of early blind and sighted (blindfolded) controls on a tactile symmetry detection task. The tactile patterns used were similar in design and complexity as in previous visual perceptual studies. The neural correlates associated with this behavioral task were identified with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In line with growing evidence demonstrating enhanced tactile processing abilities in the blind, we found that early blind individuals showed significantly superior performance in detecting tactile symmetric patterns compared to sighted controls. Furthermore, comparing patterns of activation between these two groups identified common areas of activation (e.g. superior parietal cortex) but key differences also emerged. In particular, tactile symmetry detection in the early blind was also associated with activation that included peri-calcarine cortex, lateral occipital (LO), and middle temporal (MT) cortex, as well as inferior temporal and fusiform cortex. These results contribute to the growing evidence supporting superior behavioral abilities in the blind, and the neural correlates associated with crossmodal neuroplasticity following visual deprivation.
Jackson ML, Bex PJ, Ellison JM, Wicks P, Wallis J. Feasibility of a web-based survey of hallucinations and assessment of visual function in patients with Parkinson's disease. Interact J Med Res 2014;3(1):e1.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) experience visual hallucinations, which may be related to decreased contrast sensitivity (ie, the ability to discern shades of grey). OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to investigate if an online research platform can be used to survey patients with Parkinson's disease regarding visual hallucinations, and also be used to assess visual contrast perception. METHODS: From the online patient community, PatientsLikeMe, 964 members were invited via email to participate in this study. Participants completed a modified version of the University of Miami Parkinson's disease hallucinations questionnaire and an online vision test. RESULTS: The study was completed by 27.9% (269/964) of those who were invited: 56.9% of this group had PD (153/269) and 43.1% (116/269) were non-Parkinson's controls. Hallucinations were reported by 18.3% (28/153) of the Parkinson's group. Although 10 subjects (9%) in the control group reported experiencing hallucinations, only 2 of them actually described formed hallucinations. Participants with Parkinson's disease with a mean of 1.75 (SD 0.35) and the control group with a mean of 1.85 (SD 0.36) showed relatively good contrast perception as measured with the online letter test (P=.07). People who reported hallucinations showed contrast sensitivity levels that did not differ from levels shown by people without hallucinations (P=.96), although there was a trend towards lower contrast sensitivity in hallucinators. CONCLUSIONS: Although more Parkinson's responders reported visual hallucinations, a significant number of non-Parkinson's control group responders also reported visual hallucinations. The online survey method may have failed to distinguish between formed hallucinations, which are typical in Parkinson's disease, and non-formed hallucinations that have less diagnostic specificity. Multiple questions outlining the nature of the hallucinations are required. In a clinical interview, the specific nature of the hallucination would be further refined to rule out a vague description that does not indicate a true, formed visual hallucination. Contrary to previous literature, both groups showed relatively good contrast sensitivity, perhaps representing a ceiling effect or limitations of online testing conditions that are difficult to standardize. Steps can be taken in future trials to further standardize online visual function testing, to refine control group parameters and to take steps to rule out confounding variables such as comorbid disease that could be associated with hallucinations. Contacting subjects via an online health social network is a novel, cost-effective method of conducting vision research that allows large numbers of individuals to be contacted quickly, and refinement of questionnaires and visual function testing may allow more robust findings in future research.
Hwang AD, Peli E. Instability of the perceived world while watching 3D stereoscopic imagery: A likely source of motion sickness symptoms. Iperception 2014;5(6):515-35.Abstract
Watching 3D content using a stereoscopic display may cause various discomforting symptoms, including eye strain, blurred vision, double vision, and motion sickness. Numerous studies have reported motion-sickness-like symptoms during stereoscopic viewing, but no causal linkage between specific aspects of the presentation and the induced discomfort has been explicitly proposed. Here, we describe several causes, in which stereoscopic capture, display, and viewing differ from natural viewing resulting in static and, importantly, dynamic distortions that conflict with the expected stability and rigidity of the real world. This analysis provides a basis for suggested changes to display systems that may alleviate the symptoms, and suggestions for future studies to determine the relative contribution of the various effects to the unpleasant symptoms.
Jung J-H, Peli E. Impact of high power and angle of incidence on prism corrections for visual field loss. Opt Eng 2014;53(6)Abstract
Prism distortions and spurious reflections are not usually considered when prescribing prisms to compensate for visual field loss due to homonymous hemianopia. Distortions and reflections in the high power Fresnel prisms used in peripheral prism placement can be considerable, and the simplifying assumption that prism deflection power is independent of angle of incidence into the prisms results in substantial errors. We analyze the effects of high prism power and incidence angle on the field expansion, size of the apical scotomas, and image compression/expansion. We analyze and illustrate the effects of reflections within the Fresnel prisms, primarily due to reflections at the bases, and secondarily due to surface reflections. The strength and location of these effects differs materially depending on whether the serrated prismatic surface is placed toward or away from the eye, and this affects the contribution of the reflections to visual confusion, diplopia, false alarms, and loss of contrast. We conclude with suggestions for controlling and mitigating these effects in clinical practice.
Thornton IM, Bülthoff HH, Horowitz TS, Rynning A, Lee S-W. Interactive multiple object tracking (iMOT). PLoS One 2014;9(2):e86974.Abstract
We introduce a new task for exploring the relationship between action and attention. In this interactive multiple object tracking (iMOT) task, implemented as an iPad app, participants were presented with a display of multiple, visually identical disks which moved independently. The task was to prevent any collisions during a fixed duration. Participants could perturb object trajectories via the touchscreen. In Experiment 1, we used a staircase procedure to measure the ability to control moving objects. Object speed was set to 1°/s. On average participants could control 8.4 items without collision. Individual control strategies were quite variable, but did not predict overall performance. In Experiment 2, we compared iMOT with standard MOT performance using identical displays. Object speed was set to 2°/s. Participants could reliably control more objects (M = 6.6) than they could track (M = 4.0), but performance in the two tasks was positively correlated. In Experiment 3, we used a dual-task design. Compared to single-task baseline, iMOT performance decreased and MOT performance increased when the two tasks had to be completed together. Overall, these findings suggest: 1) There is a clear limit to the number of items that can be simultaneously controlled, for a given speed and display density; 2) participants can control more items than they can track; 3) task-relevant action appears not to disrupt MOT performance in the current experimental context.
Sánchez J, de Borba Campos M, Espinoza M, Merabet LB. Audio Haptic Videogaming for Developing Wayfinding Skills in Learners Who are Blind. IUI 2014;2014:199-208.Abstract
Interactive digital technologies are currently being developed as a novel tool for education and skill development. Audiopolis is an audio and haptic based videogame designed for developing orientation and mobility (O&M) skills in people who are blind. We have evaluated the cognitive impact of videogame play on O&M skills by assessing performance on a series of behavioral tasks carried out in both indoor and outdoor virtual spaces. Our results demonstrate that the use of Audiopolis had a positive impact on the development and use of O&M skills in school-aged learners who are blind. The impact of audio and haptic information on learning is also discussed.