In-Home Reading-Eye-Movement Training System

Period of Performance: 09/01/2017 - 08/31/2018


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Principal Investigator


Given the rapidly aging population and the incidence of age related eye diseases, the number of individuals with low vision is expected to increase dramatically in the next decades. Patients with central vision loss can no longer use their foveas and eccentric retina must be used to perform visual tasks. Since the peripheral retina has reduced sensory capabilities and altered oculomotor behavior, performance of everyday visual tasks, such as reading, are extremely difficult. Personal independence, self-assurance, and privacy may be compromised, as individuals may have to rely on others to read their personal correspondence. Among the most important goals of low-vision patients is maintaining/gaining reading skills. Previously, we have developed and validated an effective clinical training program to increase reading speed in individuals with low vision. The major innovation of the current project is the development of an in-home platform for training eye movement control to improve reading speed in individuals with vision impairment. Personal computer technology is currently available to make interfaces accessible to visually impaired people, including Intel RealSense 3D camera; touch screens; and reliable voice control. In addition, new eye movement monitoring hardware (e.g., Tobii EyeX) is robust and affordable. We propose to develop an in-home reading-eye-movement training system. Internet connection will provide daily monitoring of training. The project has four specific goals: (1) In the first month, we will develop and refine the hardware of the PC with eye tracking. This will include determining aspects of hardware to make it useful in home; (2) In the next three months, we will develop the software for an accessible in-home interface; (3) In the next two months, we will test the user interface with 8 visually impaired participants and use their feedback to make the system usable for in-home training; and (4) In the final six months, we will conduct proof of concept testing in homes with 20 visual impaired participants to assess usability, acceptance, and efficacy. Statistical methods will allow us to address the following usability two questions: Can at least 80% of the visually impaired participants perform at least 90% of the training successfully, and does the in-home eye movement training significantly improve the reading ability in at least 70% of the subjects that completed the training?