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— Health and Wellbeing

Wearable collision warning device for the visually-impaired

For people with reduced vision, getting around safely without walking into obstacles can be tricky. Those with decent central vision but whose peripheral sight is fading or lost are particularly at risk because they aren't conditioned to be alert for oncoming dangers they can't see. But a new pocket-sized device that sits on a person's chest may make walking much safer for these people and others with visual impairments by warning of impending collisions. Read More
— Space

NASA seeks to understand vision changes due to microgravity

Having evolved under the pressure of Earth's gravity, it isn't surprising that our bodies experience adverse physiological affects after long periods in low-Earth orbit. NASA hopes that a new experiment, the Fluid Shifts investigation, set to launch to the ISS later this year, will shed light on the causes of vision loss and deformation of the structure to the eye often suffered by astronauts over the course of a stay aboard the ISS. Read More
— Good Thinking

SIMVIZ simulates visual impairments with see-through VR display

It's hard to appreciate the feeling of living with a visual impairment if you haven't experienced it yourself. The edge blurring of glaucoma or the clouded, fogged-up vision of a cataract, or even the confusing hue-challenged sights of a colorblind person may register on an intellectual level with somebody who has normal vision, but few really "get it" because it's too alien to them. SIMVIZ aims to fix that by attaching a wide-angle camera to a virtual reality headset, to filter the world around you according to any of six visual impairments: colorblindness, glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, double vision, and macular degeneration. Read More
— Science

Study finds that retina "language" changes with brightness

Our eyes extract a lot of information from visible light that enables us to see color, movement, shadows, highlights, shapes, and more, with each component processed separately and sent to the brain in parallel to the others. It was previously thought that the same scene would always be converted into the same pattern of activity. But research by scientists at the University of Tübingen in Germany and the University of Manchester in the UK suggests that the signals differ wildly as the brightness of the environment changes by even small amounts. Read More
— Medical

Photoswitch therapy restores vision to blind lab animals

A new genetic therapy that helped blind mice and dogs respond to light stimulus could restore sight to people who suffer from diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (a gradual loss of vision from periphery inwards). The therapy uses chemicals known as photoswitches, which change shape when hit with light, to open the channels that activate retinal cells. Treated mice can distinguish between steady and flashing light, while dogs with late-stage retinal degeneration also regain some sensitivity to light. Read More
— Medical

Nanotube film could replace defective retinas

A promising new study suggests that a wireless, light-sensitive, and flexible nanotube-semiconductor nanocrystal film could potentially form part of a prosthetic device to replace damaged or defective retinas. The film both absorbs light and stimulates neurons without being connected to any wires or external power sources, standing it apart from silicon-based devices used for the same purpose. It has so far been tested only on light-insensitive retinas from embryonic chicks, but the researchers hope to see the pioneering work soon reach real-world human application. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Video games replace eye patch to treat lazy eye

With video games having previously been found to improve decision making speeds and the brain's capacity to learn, scientists have now created challenging computer games with a fun element that significantly improved depth perception and binocular vision in people with a lazy eye. Unlike the traditional patch used to treat the condition, the video games encourage both eyes to work together. Read More
— Medical

Eye pressure-monitoring implant could save glaucoma patients from blindness

Currently, people with glaucoma must have their internal optic pressure (the pressure within their eye) regularly checked by a specialist. If that IOP gets too high, then steps need to be taken to lower it, before vision damage can occur. The problem is, the pressure can change quickly, potentially rising to dangerous levels between those checks. A new implant, however, could make it possible for patients to check their own IOP as often as they like, using their smartphone. Read More