The new research has found that a computer-based technique developed and assessed by Durham University improved partially-sighted people’s ability to ‘see’ better. It may eventually improve and broaden the portfolio of rehabilitation techniques for partially-sighted patients.
The study, which tested patients’ visual ability before and after the training, found that patients became faster and more accurate at detecting objects, such as coloured dots or numbers, on a computer screen.
Lead researcher, Dr Alison Lane, from Durham University’s Psychology Department, said:
“This research shows us that basic training works in getting people to use their ‘poor’ visual side better.
“Although we are not yet sure why this happens, we think it might be because training increases their attention, concentration and awareness of their ‘blind’ field.”
“We think attention is key in improving people’s abilities to use their limited vision.”
The Durham study compared two types of rehabilitation techniques – one focused on exploration and the other on attention. Neither training option is currently available on the NHS although alternative training programmes can be bought privately.
The research was funded by the Medical Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, and supported by the charity Action for Blind People.