26/05/2017 - LPC - Gaze-controlled vision enhancement system for reading in visually impaired people

People with low vision, especially those with Central Field Loss (CFL), need magnification to read. The flexibility of Electronic Vision Enhancement Systems (EVES) offers several ways of magnifying text. Due to the restricted field of view of EVES, the need for magnification is conflicting with the need to navigate through text (panning). We have developed and implemented a real-time gaze-controlled system whose goal is to optimize the possibility of magnifying a portion of text while maintaining global viewing of the other portions of the text (condition 1). Two other conditions were implemented that mimicked commercially available advanced systems known as CCTV (closed-circuit television systems)—conditions 2 and 3. In these two conditions, magnification was uniformly applied to the whole text without any possibility to specifically select a region of interest. The three conditions were implemented on the same computer to remove differences that might have been induced by dissimilar equipment. A gaze-contingent artificial 10° scotoma (a mask continuously displayed in real time on the screen at the gaze location) was used in the three conditions in order to simulate macular degeneration. Ten healthy subjects with a gaze-contingent scotoma read aloud sentences from a French newspaper in nine experimental one-hour sessions. Reading speed was measured and constituted the main dependent variable to compare the three conditions. All subjects were able to use condition 1 and they found it slightly more comfortable to use than condition 2 (and similar to condition 3). Importantly, reading speed results did not show any significant difference between the three systems. In addition, learning curves were similar in the three conditions. This proof of concept study suggests that the principles underlying the gaze-controlled enhanced system might be further developed and fruitfully incorporated in different