How Technology is Paving the Way for Revolutionary Treatments for the Visually Impaired

Visual impairments can not only hinder individuals on an everyday basis, but it can also be severely damaging to their confidence and overall happiness. While it can be difficult to live with such ailments, technology is constantly evolving to bring unprecedented levels of comfort and autonomy to those impacted by issues with their vision. 

On a global scale, at least 2.2 billion people have had a near or distance vision impairment, and in at least one billion of these cases, the impairment could have been prevented or is yet to be addressed. 

With such a large number of the world’s population suffering with vision imperfections, it’s imperative that technology to assist the daily lives of the visually impaired is a priority. Fortunately, we live in a time where technology has evolved to become more impactful and intelligent than ever before. 

With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at just how emerging tech is paving the way for more revolutionary treatments for the visually impaired:

The Rise of Assistive Eyewear

One of the most exciting innovations emerging from the field of artificial intelligence are assistive smart glasses. 

Integrated with AI technology, assistive smart glasses can analyze their local environment and offer real-time audio descriptions to the wearer. This means that users can have their field of vision actively described to them or the text on landmarks or products read out in real-time. 

Some AI glasses can also offer facial recognition technology, which can make it easier for the visually impaired to interact with friends and colleagues. This can also really help those who have difficulty recognizing faces due to conditions like prosopagnosia. 

Among some of the leading companies creating intelligent assistive eyewear, Envision has paved the way for more intelligent recognition technology to assist the blind. 

Paired with iOS/Android app, Envision’s latest eyewear uses AI to organize information from visual cues and verbally interprets it for the wearer. The technology identifies friends, reads documents, and can even find missing items around the house. Crucially, the technology can also assist wearers when on public transportation services. 

Smart assistive eyewear like Envision’s latest models and eSight can be great solutions for the visually impaired to live a comfortable life should it be impossible to remedy eye problems. 

Technology is also continuously growing in the realm of healthcare, and it’s worth checking to see if modern procedures like LASIK eye surgery are unavailable near you or incapable of correcting your impairment, it’s certainly worth checking out the growing range of eyewear available to you. 

Smarter Navigation

Technology is also helping to aid the lives of the visually impaired when out and about, with more intelligent navigation systems. 

Coming predominantly in the form of an intelligent walking stick, or cane, we’re seeing more instances of hardware growing in its ability to assist their users. 

Ramneek Kaur Ahluwalia, the 19-year-old CEO of MyVision recently won £10,000 for her development of a hi-tech cane that can help people to navigate their surroundings using artificial intelligence, LiDAR, and GPS technology.  

Similar technology has also been developed by engineers at the University of Colorado Boulder, in which a walking stick can identify objects in a grocery store and rank them in accordance with the item that the user wants. 

“It assigns a score to the objects present, selecting what is the most likely product,” said doctoral student Shivendra Agrawal. “Then the system issues commands like ‘move a little bit to your left’.”

Smart walking sticks aren’t the only piece of hardware that can significantly improve the mobility of users, and the long-awaited arrival of the self-driving car is likely to be a watershed moment in the autonomy of the visually impaired. 

With major tech giants like Amazon, Uber, Tesla, and Google all intent on making the self-driving car a reality in the not-too-distant future, we’re likely to see vast improvements in the mobility of the visually impaired over the coming years. 

Improving the Digital Lifestyle of the Visually Impaired

Artificial intelligence is also helping to improve the lives of the visually impaired at home, too. With AI algorithms capable of detecting personalized issues emerging when browsing online, the technology can take automatic measures to ensure that website content remains readable to all users. 

This technology could be implemented by improving the color contrasts of buttons, or by automatically adjusting filters for colorblindness. Considering that the internet is one of the greatest inventions in human history, it’s imperative that the technology is available to all, and through programs like CRAFT and Apple’s VoiceOver iPhone integration, the World Wide Web is becoming more accessible than ever. 

We’re also seeing intelligent apps working to improve the lives of the visually impaired. For instance, beauty firm Estée Lauder recently launched an app that features a Voice-Enabled Makeup Assistant (VMA). The app was developed as a means of helping visually impaired users put on makeup more easily and confidently. 

With technology continually evolving to help improve the daily actions of the visually impaired, there is plenty of hope that the future will bring even more effective innovations as technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and LiDAR continue to grow. 

With more than 2.2 billion individuals set to benefit from the development of these technologies, it will be a remarkable achievement for technology to continue to assist the visually impaired