Smartphones a big help to visually impaired

iPhones and other smartphones can be a huge help to the visually impaired, but few vision doctors are recommending them to patients, according to a study co-authored by a Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine ophthalmologist.

Researchers surveyed 46 low-vision adults from the Chicago Lighthouse and the Spectrios Institute for Low Vision in Wheaton, Ill. Participants' best-corrected vision ranged from 20/70 to complete .

Researchers found that only 15 percent of patients reported that a vision doctor had recommended smartphones for the devices' accessibility features.

Eleven of the 46 patients (24 percent) used smartphones. Their average age was 36. Thirty patients (65 percent) used basic cell phones; their average age was 67. Five patients (11 percent) did not own any cell phones.

"Young, visually impaired patients are getting ahead of their doctors," said Loyola Dr. Walter M. Jay, senior author of the study, which was presented at the 2012 ARVO Annual Meeting. "Low-vision specialists should be getting out in front on this, rather than being behind the curve."

Jay said these are among the accessibility features that smartphones offer to the visually impaired:

  • Font sizes can be increased to as large as 56 pt., enabling users with very poor vision to text and email.
  • The screen can be brightened considerably.
  • GPS and voice features help the visually impaired to navigate.
"Smartphones can dramatically improve the quality of life of people with ," Jay said.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New device puts vision impaired in the picture

Apr 28, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Visually impaired people may soon have greater access to graphical information thanks to a new device developed by Monash University’s Faculty of Information and Technology.

Recommended for you

Chile's Bachelet sends abortion bill to Congress

10 hours ago

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet on Saturday pressed ahead with plans to decriminalize abortion in certain cases, a decades-old taboo in one of Latin America's most socially conservative countries.

Jamaica Senate starts debate on pot decriminalization bill

Jan 30, 2015

Jamaica's Senate on Friday started debating a bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot and establish a licensing agency to regulate a lawful medical marijuana industry on the island where the drug ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.