The Braille Institute has released VisionSim, a free app to help sighted users understand what it might be like to have a visual impairment. It was designed to help those with healthy vision experience the world as someone with one of four different degenerative eye diseases might. Macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts are all considered diseases of vision, but hey produce very different types of loss for the individuals who experience them.

The VisionSim app allows users to select one of the four vision loss simulators with the iOS device camera, then apply digital filters that simulate the symptoms of the specific diseases, as well as in the severity of those symptoms. These real time images can then be saved to the iOS device for later retrieval from the photo application or can then be shared. The app includes more info about the specific eye diseases, including symptoms and treatments, as well as access to the Braille Institute’s website and contact information for further learning.

Vision loss isn’t a binary – different conditions can bring about very different experiences. For example, cataracts can cause a loss of clarity in the center of the visual field, or to the side, or both. Diabetic retinopathy, on the other hand, can produce gray spots across the whole field of vision, while macular degeneration – a disease of the rods and cones in the eye – can result in blurriness as well as specific areas of occlusion. Users concerned about “going blind” may even take heart from learning that vision loss isn’t an either/or condition. Users with concerns about their own vision might be prompted to seek treatment earlier.

As a learning tool, this seems like it would be invaluable, for both teachers and their students. It could also be a big help in ability awareness activities, when groups of students come together to find out how it might feel to have a specific type of disability.

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-05-05 :: Category: Medical

Posted in: Blog

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