University of Iowa Health Care

Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

High Tech Options

Mark E. Wilkinson, OD, FAAO

Length: 5:39

Posted May 9, 2021

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Slide 1

This is Mark Wilkinson from the University of Iowa Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.  In this presentation we will review high tech options to enhance the functional abilities of individuals who are visually impaired. 

Slide 2

In this presentation, we will be discussing, the different problems you and your patients may experience with optical magnification.  Who benefits from high tech options? The benefits of high-tech options. Finally, we will review Smart devices and apps for use by your patients who are visually impaired.  

Slide 3

Optical magnification is very helpful for many of our patients who are visually impaired. That said, you should be aware that there are a number of problems with optical systems. Those problems include, the stronger the system, the smaller the field of view and the closer the working distance required to use the device. Additionally, the depth of field is more limited and contrast is decreased.

Lighting and glare can be an issue and higher-powered optical systems have more aberrations. And, higher powered systems are difficult to impossible to use binocularly.

Slide 4

Let's discuss who Benefits from High Tech Devices?

Those who will benefit from high tech devices are those individuals with Moderate to profound vision loss.  Additionally, individuals with Decreased contrast sensitivity and those needing Higher amounts of magnification, especially greater than 6x.  For some individuals, the only option they need is contrast enhancement, particularly reversing the print to white letters on a black background to have their best reading vision.   Other individuals who will benefit from high tech options are those that need a Flexible or longer working distance and individual who need to augment visual input with auditory or tactual input.

Slide 5

High Tech Options are constantly changing. Here are a few pictures of devices ranging from hand held, to arm mounted to full sized video magnifiers for both reading and distance vision enhancement as well as a head mounted video magnifier.    

Slide 6

Electronic Magnification Provides the individual who is visually impaired with Higher levels of magnification than what they can get with optical magnification.  As if not more importantly, electronic magnification provides Contrast enhancement. Both these options allow for Increased readability.  

There are Variable color adjustments and the ability to isolate text lines with the different electronic magnification options available.  

Finally, electronic magnification options are available in desk top, portable and handheld devices.

Slide 7

Here are some pictures of currently available Portable video magnification devices

Slide 8

Here are some pictures of currently available head Mounted Video Magnification devices.

Slide 9

One of the best new technology devices of the past 10 years is the IPad.  It was the first out of the box, fully accessible device.  The Ipad has Zoom and Voice capabilities, along with magnification and contrast enhancement options.  The IPad provides access to the Internet where the user can access Newspapers and Magazines, their Email as well as educational and avocational Books that can be accessed in both Enlarged and or enhanced contrast print as well as auditorily.

The young lady in this picture had a full-sized video magnifier at home. She stated when she got her IPad, she was so happy to finally be able to read like her friends did, sitting in her bed.  

Slide 10

There are many options available to enhance Computer Accessibility.  Options include Screen Enlarging and Screen Reading Software, Operating System Software, Voice Recognition Software and Text to Speech Software.

Slide 11

Most all of the Smart Devices currently available have Accessibility Options & Apps to enhance or augment visual abilities. Currently, Apple products lead in the availability of apps and accessibility features available on their products.  In fact, an IPhone tends to be the favorite tool of individuals who are totally blind. 

Options that can make things easier include the voice command option of Siri and the text to speech and voice command option of VoiceOver.  Seeing AI is a free app that will read text and documents, identify money and colors and read bar codes.    SuperVision is a video magnification app that will make your smart phone work like a hand held video magnifier, including the ability to reverse contrast for easier viewing.  Finally, many of my patients have found the Alexa & Google Home devices to be invaluable for a variety of voice commanded tasks in their homes. 

Slide 12

To find out more about the aforementioned computer options, visit the accessibility options resources available Online from the different computer vendors for both Apple and Windows based computers. Additionally, you can go to to find a variety of different video and print based resources that review accessibility options for different computer operating systems and smart devices.  

Slide 13

Now you know about the advantages and ever-changing world of high tech options for enhancing the visual functioning of individuals with vision loss.     

Thanks for your attention. If you have any questions, you can contact me by email.  

last updated: 05/9/2021
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