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Proud to be a ‘Rasch nerd’

A couple of weeks ago I took part in the 10th annual Rasch User conference in my childhood stomping ground of Durham. It was an extremely interesting day and even involved a fantastic interval-scale cake! My presentation was on the use of Rasch analysis in understanding rehabilitation needs in low vision, the slides for which are now available.


Optometry Tomorrow 2015

Looking forward to the College of Optometrists’ conference in Brighton at the weekend. Hikmat is presenting the results of her first year’s work as a College postgrad with ‘Towards a functional visual field assessment for low vision’. Sheila has examined the effect of simulation specs on vision in ‘Simulating combined visual acuity and contrast sensitivity loss with Cambridge Simulation Glasses’, and we have then applied the use of these simulation specs to drivers’ vision in ‘Relationship between the two UK driving standards with reduced contrast sensitivity’, extending the findings of our recent BJO paper.

All these posters are hopefully very relevant to clinical practice, and have MCQs that count towards CET points, so please come along for a chat!

EAOO, Warsaw

This weekend was the annual European Academy of Optometry and Optics meeting, this year in Warsaw. I presented some of the work I have been doing with PhD student Ahoora Baranian and colleagues on the impact of retinitis pigmentosa on activities of daily living. I believe that copies of the slides will be available to EAOO members on the website. Some of our pilot work on personality characteristics of optometry students was also presented as a discussion session by Dr Joy Myint. Warsaw was a lovely city to explore, especially once the sun came out on Sunday: my non-optometric highlight was spotting Midge Ure strolling down the Nowy Swiat!

Faculty Research Conference

Well done to everyone for their contributions to the Faculty Research Conference yesterday. Hikmat presented a poster outlining her upcoming research, Ahoora gave a 3 minute ‘show and tell’ on his research progress, and Maria’s work was outlined by a ‘show and tell’ by me and a poster presented by Sheila. It was great to see the variety of work being done in the Faculty of Science and Technology right now – from managing hearing loss to modelling the impact of knee surgery to elephant conservation.

A busy week!

First of all I’m delighted to welcome Hikmat Subhi to the team as research student working on the College of Optometrists’ project on the functional assessment of visual fields in the low vision assessment. Hikmat has certainly hit the ground running this week and I’m looking forward to lots of progress on this exciting project.

Meanwhile, Maria Katsou received lots of interest and positive feedback on her poster presentation at Optometry Tomorrow. Here she is with her poster, with the abstract below for interest.



Maria Foteini Katsou1, Keziah Latham1,2, Sheila Rae1,2

1. Visual Function and Physiology Research Group, Department of Vision and Hearing Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University. 2.Vision and Eye Research Unit, Anglia Ruskin University.


In May 2012 the visual requirements for driving in the UK changed. Candidates for the driving licence should be able to read a number plate viewed at 20m and achieve a visual acuity of 6/12 with the aid of any necessary refractive correction. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between the number plate test and visual acuity as measured with three different charts. The impact of the change in visual standards is discussed.


116 participants (age 24.9 ± 9.7 years) read three distance visual acuity charts – Snellen, logMAR Sloan, logMAR Landolt – without refractive correction at 6m. Charts were presented using Thomson Test Chart 2000 Xpert software. Snellen acuities were scored on a full line basis, with Sloan and Landolt acuities scored letter by letter. Participants then read 3 number plates outdoors without refractive correction.


Bland-Altman plots were used to examine the equivalence between visual acuity charts. No difference between charts was significant as the 95% confidence intervals included no mean difference. However, mean acuities with the Landolt chart were slightly worse than with the Snellen (0.05±0.14logMAR) or Sloan charts (0.12±0.10logMAR), and Sloan acuities were slightly better than Snellen (0.07±0.11logMAR).

The 6/12 (0.3logMAR) cut off provided sensitivity and specificity for passing the number plate test of 98% and 85% with the Snellen chart, 94% and 88% with the Sloan and 98% and 73% with the Landolt chart.

Of those who were able to read a number plate at 20m, a further percentage were unable to meet the visual standards for driving by not meeting the 6/12 standard: this constituted 15% of the sample with Snellen, 12% with Sloan and 27% with Landolt.


The new visual requirements for driving will result in optometrists examining some drivers in the test room who do not meet the acuity standard of 6/12, despite being able to read a number plate at 20m. Optometrists should note that the ability to achieve an acuity of 6/12 will depend, to some extent, on the chart used for acuity measurement.

Optometry Tomorrow

Maria Katsou is presenting some of her MPhil work as a poster at the Optometry Tomorrow conference in York this weekend. If you happen to be there, pop by and have a chat! Visual standards for driving changed in 2012, so that a driver must not only be able to read a number plate at 20m, but also have an acuity of 6/12. Maria has been looking at the relationship between these two tests, and at the effect of measuring acuity in different ways.

LVI meeting, Kosta, Sweden

Last week was a really enjoyable trip to Kosta in Sweden to speak at Low Vision International‘s annual meeting. I spoke on ‘Assessing functional vision and visual function: implications of research for clinical low vision practice’. LVI’s electronic aids look very impressive, especially the Magnilink S with ability for text to speech and text presentation by paragraph or by word in a Rapid Serial Visual Presentation mode. Also very much enjoyed the after dinner pub quiz, which our team won!

Amsterdam presentation

I took part this week in a symposium at the VU Medical Centre, Amsterdam on ‘Measuring rehabilitation needs of people with visual impairment: science and practice’. The slides for my talk (‘The influence of visual and psychosocial factors on Activity Inventory responses’) are available here. It turned out to be a very exciting time to be in Amsterdam, with the Queen’s Day celebrations and coronation of King Willem-Alexander going on as well!

EAOO, Malaga

Just returned from the very enjoyable EAOO (European Academy of Optometry and Optics) meeting in Malaga. Particularly interesting for me was the Low Vision Special Interest Group meeting, where low vision assessment, depression in low vision, and the use of consumer electronics by people with low vision were discussed. Despite the diversity of ways in which optometry is practised across Europe, the striking feature for me was that our areas of concern were more similar than I had expected. The discussion continued afterwards in the bar, and probably the less said about my ignominous arrival there via the hotel slide the better! I was also surprised, but very pleased, that my poster with Julie Hughes was ‘highly commended’. The poster title was ‘Is a reading addition necessary for clinical contrast sensitivity measurements?’ Unfortunately my answer to this question will have to wait to be posted until after Julie has submitted her own analysis in her dissertation!

EAOO, Dublin

The European Academy of Optometry and Optics meeting in Dublin at the weekend was a diverse gathering, with presentations on many different aspects of optometry. I especially enjoyed the first meeting of the Special Interest Group in low vision, with presentations on the wide range of service levels available across Europe.

Anglia Ruskin University was well represented with presentations from (left-right as pictured below):

myself on ‘Factors associated with adjustment to visual loss.’

Robert Conway: poster on ‘Variation in visual acuity measurement at different viewing distances: a comparison of results with 2 different chart designs’.

Dr Sheila Rae: talk on ‘Accommodative accuracy with printed text vs. hand-held computer gaming’, and poster on ‘Assessing visual acuities at near with letter and symbol charts: effect of chart type and defocus’.

Sarah Lalor: poster on ‘Where should bars be to produce optimal crowding effects using children’s acuity letters, pictures and symbols?’

Details if interested can be found in the conference abstract book.

We were rather less grumpy than this photo suggests!