People with Macular Degeneration Can Watch TV with New Tech
A new remote control enables people with macular degeneration to watch TV, thanks to a special contrast enhancement technology.
People who suffer from visual impairments such as macular degeneration often suffer from more than just the loss of eyesight. Due to the importance of vision in everyday activities, visually impaired individuals often feel disconnected with the outside world. It may be impossible to read books, see signs and menus, and watch TV.
Now, a group of researchers from Schepens Eye Research Institute at Harvard Medical School have devised a way to enable people with macular degeneration to watch TV again. Unlike previous techniques (such as telescopic glasses that cut off parts of the screen), their method works with digital television and can easily be applied to new HDTVs and Internet video.
The scientists use a "decoder" which can be operated via a remote control to enhance the contrast of the TV images. In tests, they found that visually impaired individuals preferred greater enhancement than non-impaired individuals due to their decreased ability to see contrast. But even non-impaired individuals preferred some additional contrast enhancement.
For the more than four million Americans who suffer from macular degeneration - a number that will likely increase as the population ages - the contrast enhancement decoder may provide a way to stay in touch with technology and part of the outside world.
Image credit: Eli Peli and Matthew Fullerton