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Logo for the Journal of Rehab R&D
Vol. 37 No. 1, January/February 2000
Pages 101 - 108


Abstract - Measuring the Effectiveness of Bioptic Telescopes for Persons with Central Vision Loss

Janet P. Szlyk, PhD; William Seiple, PhD; Denice J. Laderman, MS; Roger Kelsch, RKT; Joan Stelmack, OD; Timothy McMahon, OD

Department of Research and Development, Chicago VA Health Care System, West Side Division, Chicago, IL 60612; Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, UIC Eye Center, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60612; Department of Ophthalmology, New York University, New York, NY 10036; Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and the Blind Center, Hines VA Medical Center, Hines, IL 60141

Abstract-- Purpose. 1) To evaluate a vision rehabilitation program aimed at training persons with central vision loss to use a bioptic telescope for improving life skills, including driving and 2) to compare the outcomes of subjects who are given bioptic telescopes and training, with subjects who are prescribed telescopic lenses without training.
Methods
. Twenty-five subjects ranging in age from 16 to 78 years were included in the study. Each subject was randomized to one of three groups: Group I received bioptic telescopes and training during the first approximately 3-month-long period of the approximately 6-month-long study; Group 2 received lenses and training during the second approximately 3-month-long period of the study; and Group 3 received the lenses for approximately 3 months without any training. An assessment battery consisting of clinical vision tests, functional tasks evaluated by an orientation and mobility specialist, driving skills evaluated by a kinesiotherapist specializing in driver's education, and psychophysical measures was administered to Groups 1 and 2 at baseline, and at approximately 3 and 6 months, and to Group 3 at baseline and at approximately 3 months. The tasks were categorized into 6 major functional categories: Recognition, Mobility, Peripheral Identification, Scanning, Tracking, and Visual Memory. Training consisted of 5 weeks of laboratory-based training focusing on skills within these 6 categories, and 8 weeks of on-road driving training. Results. There was significant improvement in all task categories with use of the telescopes. There was improvement in all task groups with training, though a significant difference between the trained and untrained groups existed only in the Recognition, Peripheral Identification, and Scanning Categories, but not in Mobility, Tracking, or Visual Memory. When the tasks involving driving-related skills were analyzed separately, training also had a significant effect.
Conclusion. There was significant improvement in visual skills with the use of a bioptic telescope. This improvement was greater with training in the use of the lenses in a number of visual skills categories including driving-related skills.

Key words: bioptic telescopes, central vision loss, driving, vision rehabilitation.


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