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 Optometry and Vision Science Presents Updates on Low Vision

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Focus on New Advances to Help Improve Mobility and Functioning for Patients Whose Vision Can't Be Corrected

Philadelphia, PA (September 5, 2012) - Millions of Americans have poor vision that can't be corrected by conventional glasses or contact lenses.  But many of them can benefit from new techniques to maximize their residual vision and thus enhance their daily living and mobility, according to a study – “The Berkeley Rudimentary Vision Test (BRVT)”, in the special September issue of Optometry and Vision Science, official journal of the American Academy of Optometry.  The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

"In this feature issue of Optometry and Vision Science, we hope to showcase the many facets of low vision research, highlighting how recent advances in vision science can be applied to low vision research and patient care," according to a guest editorial by an international team of experts led by Susana T.L. Chung, OP, PhD, FAAO, of University of California, Berkeley.

Beyond 'Counting Fingers'—and Other Advances in Low Vision Research
Contributed by leading researchers from around the world, the 21 papers in the special issue provide a comprehensive update on new advances and future challenges in low vision research.  Recent years have seen increased research attention to the problem of low vision, driven by advances in understanding of the brain process in vision, a clearer understanding of visual search strategies, and an "explosion" of new technology.

"Most of the almost 3.5 million people in the United States with low vision have useful residual vision, even if they are among the 1 million who are legally blind," comments Anthony Adams, OD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Optometry and Vision Science.  "So the challenge is to optimize that residual vision to improve the person's quality of life or to meet work challenges."

One key area is new approaches to assessing and measuring just how much potentially useful vision the patient has.  Historically, clinicians and researchers haven't had readily available tools for measuring low vision.  Below a visual acuity of 20/200, residual vision has typically been described in terms of the ability to "count fingers" and "light perception."

A group led by Ian L. Bailey, OD, MS, FAAO, of University of California has developed a new tool for measuring residual vision at the very low end of the range.  Using a simple card system and very short test distances, the new test can make precise measurements of residual vision all the way down to 20/16,000.

The ability to make detailed assessments of such very low vision is an essential starting point for taking advantage of new techniques to maximize the use of residual vision.  At levels lower than 20/16,000, the test includes 13 steps to grade vision all the way to "light perception."

Other topics in the special issue include new techniques and technologies for maximizing residual vision for critical functions like reading and mobility. Two studies highlight the impact of loss of contrast sensitivity on reading ability—not only in low-vision patients with glaucoma but even in the general population of older adults.  Dr Adams points out, "Fortunately, text presented digitally on a computer, tablet or smart phone can often dramatically increase accessibility to the written word in this group of people."

The special issue also evaluates some newer new technologies and assessments that are—or are not—effective in maximizing residual vision for everyday functioning.  "Our goal for this feature issue is not simply to celebrate the most recent advances in the field, but also to stimulation ideas and questions for future research," Dr Chung and coauthors conclude.  "More rigorous research can provide better patient care to the visually impaired."

To read the article “The Berkeley Rudimentary Vision Test (BRVT)”, please visit http://journals.lww.com/optvissci/Fulltext/2012/09000/The_Berkeley_Rudimentary_Vision_Test.7.aspx

About Optometry and Vision Science
Optometry and Vision Science, official journal of the American Academy of Optometry, is the most authoritative source for current developments in optometry, physiological optics, and vision science. This frequently cited monthly scientific journal has served primary eye care practitioners for more than 75 years, promoting vital interdisciplinary exchange among optometrists and vision scientists worldwide.

About the American Academy of Optometry
Founded in 1922, the American Academy of Optometry is committed to promoting the art and science of vision care through lifelong learning.  All members of the Academy are dedicated to the highest standards of optometric practice through clinical care, education or research.

About Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (LWW) is a leading international publisher of trusted content delivered in innovative ways to practitioners, professionals and students to learn new skills, stay current on their practice, and make important decisions to improve patient care and clinical outcomes.

LWW is part of Wolters Kluwer Health, a leading global provider of information, business intelligence and point-of-care solutions for the healthcare industry. Wolters Kluwer Health is part of Wolters Kluwer, a market-leading global information services company with 2011 annual revenues of €3.4 billion ($4.7 billion).

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