Augmented reality glasses may help people with low vision better navigate their environment

Glasses enhance mobility and function in patients who have difficulty with peripheral vision or seeing in low light.


Patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) show, in the advanced phase of the disease, severely restricted peripheral vision, causing reduced mobility and decrease in quality of life. This vision loss causes trouble recognizing obstacles and their relative distances. In this manner, RP patients use mobility helps, for example, canes to navigate, particularly in dark environments.

In another investigation of patients with retinitis pigmentosa, Keck School of Medicine of USC, scientists found that adjusted, expanded reality (AR) glasses can improve patients’ portability by half and handle execution by 70%.

Patients with retinitis pigmentosa wore adjusted AR glasses as they explored through an obstacle course dependent on a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved functional test. Using video of each test, specialists recorded the number of times patients collided with obstructions, just as the time is taken to finish the course. Patients averaged 50% fewer collisions with the adapted AR glasses.

Patients additionally were approached to get a wooden peg against a black background – situated behind four other wooden pegs – without contacting the front items. Patients exhibited a 70% expansion in grasp performance with the AR glasses.

Anastasios N. Angelopoulos, study project lead in Humayun’s research laboratory at the Keck School said, “Patients with retinitis pigmentosa have decreased peripheral vision and trouble seeing in low light, which makes it difficult to identify obstacles and grasp objects. They often require mobility aids to navigate, especially in dark environments.”

“Through the use of AR, we aim to improve the quality of life for low vision patients by increasing their confidence in performing basic tasks, ultimately allowing them to live more independent lives.”

The AR system overlays objects inside a 6-foot wireframe with four bright, particular colors. In doing as such, the glasses give visual color cues that help individuals with constricted peripheral vision interpret complex environments, for example, maintaining a strategic distance from impediments in faintly lit situations.

To achieve this, specialists utilized a procedure called simultaneous location and mapping, permitting the AR glasses to render the 3D structure of a room progressively completely. The glasses then translated this data into a semitransparent colored visual overlay, which featured potential obstacles with bright colors to assist patients with spatial comprehension and depth perception. This innovation can work on commercially accessible gadgets.

Mark Humayun, MD, Ph.D., director of the USC Dr. Allen and Charlotte Ginsburg Institute for Biomedical Therapeutics, said, “While major cost and technical issues remain, this type of assistive technology could eventually become more practical for everyday use shortly.”

The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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