Washington, May 17 (ANI): 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.
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 blindness.
They 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 Dr. Walter M. Jay, a Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine ophthalmologist and senior author of the study.
"Low-vision specialists should be getting out in front on this rather than being behind the curve," he stated.
As font sizes can be increased to as large as 56 pt., smartphones enable people with very poor vision to text and email, according to Jay.
The other accessibility features that smartphones offer to the visually impaired are: the screen can be brightened considerably and GPS and voice features help them to navigate.
"Smartphones can dramatically improve the quality of life of people with poor vision," Jay said.
Co-authors of the study, which was presented at the 2012 ARVO Annual Meeting, are Raman Bhakhri, OD, (first author); Robert Chun, OD; and John Coalter, OD. (ANI)