Low Vision News

For low vision specialists and those who consult them

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.

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