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Volume 42 Number 4, July/August 2005
Pages 471 — 486


Abstract - Improving nighttime mobility in persons with night blindness caused by retinitis pigmentosa: A comparison of two low-vision mobility devices

Rickilyn M. Mancil, MA;1* Gary L. Mancil, OD;1 Ellis King, DEng, PE;2 Claudine Legault, PhD;3 Julie Munday, BA;1 Salvatore Alfieri, MS;4 Rod Nowakowski, OD, PhD;5 Bruce B. Blasch, PhD6

1Vision Rehabilitation Research Laboratory, Hefner Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, Salisbury, NC; 2The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, William States Lee College of Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering, Charlotte, NC; 3Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Department of Public Health Sciences, Winston-Salem, NC; 4Livingstone College, Department of Physical Education/Sports Management, Salisbury, NC; 5University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Optometry, Birmingham, AL; 6Rehabilitation Research and Development Center, Atlanta VA Medical Center, Decatur, GA
Abstract — This study compared the effectiveness of the ITT Night Vision Viewer with the Wide Angle Mobility Lamp (WAML) as low-vision mobility devices for people experiencing night blindness due to retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Both engineering bench testing and functional evaluations were used in the assessments. Engineering evaluations were conducted for (1) consistency of the manufacturer's specifications, (2) ergonomic characteristics, (3) modifications of devices, and (4) pedestrian safety issues. Twenty-seven patients with RP conducted rehabilitation evaluations with each device that included both clinical and functional tests. Both devices improved nighttime travel for people with night blindness as compared with nighttime travel with no device. Overall, the WAML provided better travel efficiency-equivalent to that measured in daytime. Recommendations have been developed on ergonomic factors for both devices. Although some participants preferred the ITT Night Vision Viewer, overall most participants performed better with the WAML.
Key words: electronic night-vision aid, legal blindness, light-amplification devices, low vision, mobility, night blindness, night-vision devices, portable illumination sources, retinitis pigmentosa, visual fields.

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