Low Vision News

For low vision specialists and those who consult them

Monthly Archives: June 2010

New (2009) journal impact factors

The 2009 journal impact factors have just been released.

This won’t mean much to those readers who don’t publish research, but my post on the last impact factors is the most visited page on this blog – perhaps as people can find this by Googling “ophthalmology impact factors”.

Impact factors (IFs) are a way of comparing different scientific journals. A high impact factor journal is one where papers in that journal are cited more frequently by other researchers than a journal with a lower impact factor. Whilst being cited isn’t a marker of quality – a citation which says “this work is superb” has the same weight as a citation which criticises the work – better journals tend to have more highly cited papers than poorer journals. In the UK, the impact factor of the journals you publish is often used as a marker of your esteem as a scientist.

Anyway, I have summarised the 2009 impact factor of some journals which publish low vision research:

Ophthalmology 5.5 (2nd highest IF in ophthalmology)
Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science (IOVS) 3.4 (6th, down from 4th)
Journal of Vision 3.0 (7th, up from 9th)
Retina 2.9 (8th)
British Journal of Ophthalmology 2.9 (9th)
Vision Research 2.3 (18th)
Eye 1.97 (20th, down from 17th)
Optometry and Vision Science 1.53 (25th, down from 22nd)
Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics 1.15 (34th, up from 37th).

The full scores can be found at Web of Knowledge (subscription required, click on “Additional Resources”).

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Conference report…from 1949

I was browsing in a second hand bookshop recently and found the proceedings of the ‘International Conference of Workers for the Blind’ held in Oxford, England in 1949. It’s fascinating.

First, the welcome addresses included greetings from Harry Truman, Clement Atlee and Helen Keller, and the united nations had considerable representation. Welfare of ‘the blind’ was of course a very political issue at this time as so many people were visually impaired as a consequence of the second world war.

One of the major resolutions of this conference was the standardisation of blind registration around the world, to recommend that every country has ‘a definition of blindness, to include both the totally blind and all other persons suffering from such defect of vision that they also require special education or special assistance to save them from destitution, and to enable them to share in the economic and cultural life of the nation’ and that a register of blind people is kept. It was also suggested that an international definition of blindness should be established, which has still not been adopted (although most countries have very similar criteria).

I was interested to see that there was considerable debate over whether registration should be compulsory, with a majority of delegates favouring this. I am not aware of any countries which have compulsory registration today as the idea of labelling people without their consent is not liked. Of course, many benefits are only conferred on those who are registered.

Not every resolution was successful: the suggestion that ‘the neutral auxilliary language of Esperanto be used internationally in work relating to the blind’ does not seem to have been widely adopted (perhaps unfortunately!).

Whilst conferences today would not make so many references to ‘the blind’ as these minutes do, many of the themes and discussions are just as relevant today as they were 61 years ago. And the report that a river cruise was ‘unfortunately marred by heavy rain’ isn’t unusual for a meeting held in August in the UK…

Low vision session at the world ophthalmology congress

I have spent this afternoon at the International Society of Low Vision Rehabilitation Research symposium at the World Ophthalmology Congress in Berlin. The WOC is a huge clinical ophthalmology meeting with the biggest drug company marketing area I have ever seen!

Ruth van Nispen from Holland opened the session speaking on which medical conditions (including those causing visual impairment) impact on quality of life over time. She found that quality of life was most likely to decline in stroke, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or visual acuity loss.

The next speaker, Dr Burggraff (also from the Netherlands) examined whether training improves reading performance with CCTV magnifiers. She used a randomised trial model where subjects either received training in the CCTV use or just the delivery instructions. She found an improvement in Reading performance in both the trained and control groups, although the improvement was no better in those who had training.

Ger van Rens spoke further on the same study, examining changes on quality of life after CCTV training. He reported that 35% of the participants in the study had clinical depression (twice that in the non-visually impaired population of the same age). He found an improvement in the reading scale of a quality of life questionnaire for all of those with a CCTV, but again no benefit of the extra training group.

Next, Gary Rubin from London gave an overview of low vision work in the uk. He pointed out this was an impossible task in ten minutes! He classified the research done into five categories: basic research (such as functional magnetic resonance imaging of the visual cortex); prevalence and economic burden of eye disease; low vision devices; development of new tools for assessing low vision outcomes; and the effectiveness of low vision services. It is clear there is a large volume of high quality work in low vision research in Britain.

Following this, I presented some of my own research on the development and use of the preferred retinal locus in macular disease, much of which was performed with Gary Rubin.

The last speaker presented results of a dutch translated version of the Massof Activity Inventory. The British stereotype of Dutch people is that they speak perfect English in any case, but of course it is important for instruments like this to be usable in every language.

Aside from this session, there is not much low vision at this meeting, so I only attended for one day. It’s not really my meeting– I’m not an ophthalmologist– and despite all the sponsorship attendance costs €250/day: one of the most expensive meetings I’ve ever been to. The conference bag is quite nice though.