Low Vision News

For low vision specialists and those who consult them

Monthly Archives: August 2010

Low vision at the Mayo clinic

Whilst on a research visit to Gordon Legge’s lab at the University of Minnesota, I made a one-day trip to see the low vision clinics at the world-famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

The clinic was extremely impressive: as you’d expect the facilities, clinical care and staff were all very good indeed. It was interesting to hear exactly the same conversations between optometrist and patient taking place 4,500 miles away from where I usually practise (admittedly in central London I rarely meet horse veterinarians or cowboys, though). Whilst in many ways the Mayo and Moorfields clinics are similar, both in terms of our patient population and our way of working, I certainly picked up some ideas from the Mayo clinic which we can introduce into the Moorfields low vision clinic in London and will be discussing these with our head of department on my return. I hope that I can return the favour for other low vision practitioners visiting London.

Thank you to Dennis Siemsen and William Brown for hosting my visit.

iBooks on the iPhone – quick review

I have previously written on the use of the Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle as low vision aids. Of course the new ‘must-have’ gadget is the iPad. I have had several patients who have mentioned how useful their iPad is and how easily they can read with it, but have not yet had chance to systematically play with one.

Apple have also rolled out the iBook software to the iPhone. Again, I have not had chance to look at this with a photometer yet, but here is a ‘quick review’ of what iBooks are like for the visually impaired user.

On the iPhone, there is a choice of 9 magnification levels and six fonts (Baskerville, Cochin, Georgia, Palatino, Times New Roman, and Verdana). There is also a Sepia mode which reduces the screen contrast but may also reduce glare.

The largest font size on my iPhone 3GS is equivalent to N25 (3.2M): three times the size of newsprint. As a very rough guide, if you can read newsprint at a struggle you will be able to read this size text fluently. At this size you get about 12 words per page, and the screen refresh is fairly quick. It is possible to display text in reversed contrast, although this has to be set in the iPhone settings rather than in the app itself.

Unfortunately, none of the fonts available are proportionally spaced, and the maximum text size of N25 still isn’t great for people with poor vision. However, the backlit screen and increased font size compared to other eReaders means that iBooks on the iPhone appears to be a better choice for people with reduced contrast sensitivity or visual acuity. Of course, every person with low vision is different and I would certainly suggest trying each device before committing to buying one.

A full report on iBooks on the iPhone and iPad will follow in time….