Braille Institute VisionSIM app replicates loss of sight, educates users on eye disease [App Reviews]
July 27, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Have you ever wondered what’s it like to go blind? Closing your eyes and seeing darkness for a short period of time is one way to try to understand the challenges of the visually-impaired, but that’s not always an accurate comparison. A sizable portion of the visually-impaired community is not trapped in darkness; many suffer from deteriorating diseases that slowly rob them of clarity.
The Braille Institute has released an Android app that tries to give users a better understanding of what it’s like to look through the eyes of someone whose sight is fading. VisionSIM, available now for Android 2.2 and higher, simulates four different degenerate eye diseases: cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
Many readers may be familiar with cataracts and glaucoma’s debilitating effects, but actually seeing the effects provides a little more understanding than one can find in a biology textbook. VisionSIM launches the camera and alters the on-screen view to show how a particular disease affects vision. A slider can be used to see how the intensity changes over time. For instance, diabetic retinopathy produces gray spots. As the slider moves right, those clouds become denser and darker, and the dark lines of the retina appear as vision worsens. The cataracts mode creates a cloudy image that limits the field of view and makes focus difficult.
VisionSIM can even capture the view from the phone and enable saved images or photo sharing. Users can then click the “Learn More” button to load more information about the symptoms and possible treatments for disease. That is part of VisionSIM’s goal to “foster understanding and compassion for the millions of people affected by these eye conditions.”
Download the app from the Android Market and visit the Braille Institute for more information about the visually-impaired.