Research & Development - A focus on the underlying causes of low-vision

Research & Development

Research and Development are important in the field of low vision care and rehabilitation. It improves the understanding of the underlying causes of low vision and helps in the development of new assistive devices, and interventions. It also opens up / develops ideas that are more accessible and affordable to everyone. It facilitates standardized practices in the field. Vision-Aid supports Research and Development in a range of innovative areas of low vision care and rehabilitation. Below are some examples of current projects

The Vasantha-Krupasagar Palakurthi Vision-Aid Resource Center, LVPEI Hyderabad

LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) is a pioneer in eye care with a global reputation of excellence and the recipient of several national and international awards. It offers job-ready training programs for persons with vision impairment, professional development in low-vision rehabilitation, and distribution of hi-tech assistive devices. It also conducts research activities in the field of low vision in collaboration with Vision Aid.

Visual acuity and visual field are commonly tested while measuring vision. However, contrast sensitivity (CS) is often not considered a critical parameter to quantify low vision. Visual perception and understanding of the visual environment happen primarily at low to intermediate contrast levels. It plays a crucial role in communication, mobility, sustained near-vision tasks, and activities of daily living. Hence, understanding CS is critical to understanding the difficulty experienced by low-vision children and facilitating early intervention. Unfortunately, there are hardly any studies on normative contrast sensitivity and low-contrast visual acuity. The research aims to study contrast sensitivity in children with and without vision impairment.

The study is advancing rapidly. So far, more than 1500 children have been recruited for this study and tested for contrast sensitivity. Interim analysis of the data is in progress so that the outcomes of this research will be presented at upcoming conferences. 

Smart Vision Glasses:

Technology will have a key role to play in the coming year(s) in helping the visually impaired to perform their daily living activities with independence and confidence. Smart vision glasses is one such innovative technology that looks at solving the problems faced by the visually impaired in their daily life.

Vision-Aid by being a partner in the distribution of Smart vision glasses across its Pan-India resource centers supports the role of Artificial intelligence (AI) in enabling and empowering the visually impaired community. The idea of this AI-powered glasses was initiated by Aravind Eye Care, Madurai, and SHG Technologies, Bangalore.

In addition to the distribution of these devices, Vision-Aid plays an important role in the evolution of this innovative product through surveys and feedback from visually impaired beneficiaries.

Scientific publications of Partners:

Vision-Aid resource centers across India, run with our pre-eminent partners have published important research papers. A few examples are listed below.

Aravind eye care:

  1. Bhaskaran, Sahithya & Flora, Jeyaseeli & Perumalsamy, Vijayalakshmi & Durairaj, DeepaChitra. (2022). Visual impairment in children with multiple disabilities in schools for children with special needs in South India. Indian Journal of Ophthalmology. 70. 1307. 10.4103/ijo.IJO_1851_21 .
  2. Vijayalakshmi P, Flora J, Shah G, Sahithya B, Gilbert C. Ocular signs, visual and general developmental outcome in Indian children with radiologically proven periventricular leukomalacia. Indian J Ophthalmol. 2022 Feb;70(2):619-624. doi: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_1779_21. PMID: 35086248; PMCID: PMC9023957.
  3. Gilbert, Clare & Vijayalakshmi, P. & Bhaskaran, Sahithya & Udupihille, Tavisha & Muhiddin, Habibah & Windy, Dyah Ayu & Panggalo, Idayani & Ruit, Sanduk & Adhikari, Srijana & Hussain, A. & Islam, Khaleda. (2021). Childhood Blindness and Visual Impairment. 10.1007/978-981-16-3787-2_11.
  4. Subathra G N, Durai I, Bhaskaran S. Congenital aniridia- there’s more than meets the eye. TNOA J Ophthalmic Sci Res 2021;59:298-300
  5. Ehrlich JR, Flora HJ, Stagg BC, Vengadesh B, Willey G, Vardhan S A. Functional Difficulties of Patients Seeking Low Vision Services in South India. Asia Pac J Ophthalmol (Phila). 2020 Sep-Oct;9(5):470-475. doi: 10.1097/APO.0000000000000285. PMID: 32371739; PMCID: PMC7541584.
  6. Beligere N, Perumalsamy V, Flora JH, Garska MJ (2020) Neurodevelopmental Disabilities in Children with Retinopathy of Prematurity: A Report from India. Int J Ophthalmol Clin Res 7:114. doi.org/10.23937/2378-346X/1410114
  7. Bhaskaran, Sahithya & Lawrence, Linda & Flora, Jeyaseeli & Perumalsamy, Vijayalakshmi. (2018). Functional and cognitive vision assessment in children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. 22. 10.1016/j.jaapos.2018.03.010.
  8. Commentary: Low vision devices are boon to patients with visual impairment due to retinal dystrophies. Bhaskaran, Sahithya; Sahoo, Jitendra Kumar1; Mishra, Chitaranjan2Jasti DN, Kowsalya A, Bhaskaran S, Jayasri K, Thanemozhi S, Kumar M. Optic atrophy in paediatric patients: A clinical review. TNOA J Ophthalmic Sci Res 2022;60:158-61

Community Eye Care Foundation (CECF) :

  1. A prospective study on low vision was started in 2018 where 456 students were examined from six schools around Pune. The purpose of this study was to assess the need for spectacles and low-vision aids (LVA) in students attending schools for the blind and study their compliance with use. The following study was finished in 2020.

https://journals.lww.com/ijo/Fulltext/2023/05000/Need_of_optical_aids_for_schools_for_blind.77.aspx   

  1. An article published in Delhi Journal of Ophthalmology, pre-session questionnaires to the attendees to assess their knowledge on Low vision and rehabilitation and a post-session questionnaire to understand their input on how much they had understood post our low vision and rehabilitation session. The attendees included Ophthalmologist, Optometrists, vision technicians, nurses, receptionists and counsellors (support staff) from different medical institutions, hospitals and clinics around Pune. https://journals.lww.com/djo/Fulltext/2022/32050/Low_Vision_and_Rehabilitation.19.aspx 
  2. Prevention of Ocular Injuries in the Armed Forces and Rehabilitation of the Visually Impaired https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-981-19-4021-7_22 

Research & Development in action

A Digital Accessibility Testing Testimonial | Nibin Mathews

Nibin Mathews’ journey is a testament to resilience and determination. Despite facing

significant visual impairment challenges since birth, Nibin pursued education with unwavering determination. Losing sight in one eye due to a cricket ball stroke in 6th grade and later losing vision in the other eye to glaucoma didn’t deter him. He completed his Bachelor’s in English and even secured a job with Indian Railways. Yet, his thirst for knowledge led him to pursue computer programming, which he found through Vision-Aid. With their specialized training, he mastered coding and digital accessibility testing. With their financial support, he pursued a Master’s degree. Now, as the Accessibility Lead at Bosch Global Software Technologies, he’s excelling professionally. But Nibin’s achievements don’t stop there; he’s also an international tennis champion and a skilled violinist. He attributes much of his success to Vision-Aid, acknowledging their pivotal role in his journey. His story is not just one of personal triumph but also a testament to the impact of support systems in overcoming challenges and inspiring others.

A Job Coaching for Banking and other exams Testimonial | Gautam Gulati

Meet Gautam, a remarkable individual based in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, whose life story is a testament to resilience, determination, and the transformative power of organizations like Vision-Aid India.

Gautam’s life commenced with the diagnosis of Retinist Pigmentosa. Despite experiencing a 40% loss of sight, he persevered through attending a regular school, successfully completing his education and earning a B Com degree. His world took an unexpected turn after graduation, when, he had the major sight loss. Faced with the challenges of navigating everyday activities like driving, reading, writing print, and mobility etc. Yet, rather than allowing these obstacles to define him, he chose a path of resilience and determination. Undeterred by his circumstances, Gautam turned to technology, becoming dependent on tools designed for visually impaired individuals, including screen readers. His quest for independence led him to explore new technologies with the support of various NGOs. Through his social networks, Gautam discovered Vision-Aid India, an organization dedicated to empowering the visually impaired. Recognizing the potential for growth, he enrolled in Vision-Aid’s IBPS banking crash course, specifically tailored for visually impaired individuals, in April 2022.

Determined to enhance his skills further, Gautam pursued an additional course in mobile technology. This commitment to personal and professional growth showcased his unwavering spirit and determination.

Armed with newfound knowledge, Gautam faced the Bank of India Credit Officer exam after completing the IBPS crash course. His hard work, coupled with the right guidance from Vision-Aid, resulted in success. In 2023, Gautam proudly joined Bank of India as a Credit Officer, marking a significant milestone in his journey.

Gautam attributes his success and newfound independence to Vision-Aid India. With deep gratitude, he acknowledges the organization’s role in providing IBPS coaching and shaping his path towards independence.

A Python Testimonial

Tejas

Tejas, born with visual impairment in Mumbai, pursued his education at a Blind School. After school, he graduated from St. Xavier’s College in 2007. His quest for technology education led him to NIIT Bangalore, but job challenges followed. He worked as an HR Recruiter at Thomson Reuters but continued his search for software engineering opportunities. Tejas found his path at Vision-Aid India, where he gained certifications in JavaScript, CSS, HTML, Python, and Digital Accessibility Testing. Vision-Aid then helped him secure a role as an Associate Software Engineer at Pristine InfoTech Inc. He’s deeply grateful to Vision-Aid for enabling visually impaired individuals to learn software languages and work independently as software engineers.

Bindhu Sri

Meet Bindu, from Hyderabad. Who began her life with the gift of perfect vision? She embarked on her educational journey in a conventional school, but at the tender age of 9, her world dimmed as Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) impacted her sight. Loosing major of her vision with lot of challenges she still could complete her graduate degree in 2020 and her post-graduate degree in 2022. Being interested to pursue her career in computer programming she discovered Vision-Aid India, a beacon of hope and opportunity. Enrolling in their online certification programs, Bindu successfully completed both Python and SQL languages. Armed with these newfound skills, she opened doors to her career, securing a position as a Data Engineer at RX Data Science, a renowned company.

“All of this was made possible through the invaluable support and guidance provided by Vision-Aid India” She Says.

A HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and ARIA Fundamentals for Accessible Web Development Testimonial

Tejas

Tejas, born with visual impairment in Mumbai, pursued his education at a Blind School. After school, he graduated from St. Xavier’s College in 2007. His quest for technology education led him to NIIT Bangalore, but job challenges followed. He worked as an HR Recruiter at Thomson Reuters but continued his search for software engineering opportunities. Tejas found his path at Vision-Aid India, where he gained certifications in JavaScript, CSS, HTML, Python, and Digital Accessibility Testing. Vision-Aid then helped him secure a role as an Associate Software Engineer at Pristine InfoTech Inc. He’s deeply grateful to Vision-Aid for enabling visually impaired individuals to learn software languages and work independently as software engineers.