Visual difficulties due to RP

We have just published a paper in IOVS outlining the relative difficulties of different visual goals for people with Retinitis PIgmentosa (RP) (Latham et al., doi: 10.1167/iovs.14-16237). The most difficult goals for people with RP relate (unsurprisingly, given the effect of RP on peripheral fields) to mobility, but also to work related activities. There were differences depending on the severity of RP (as given by visual impairment registration status): for those with less severe visual loss, goals relating to communicating with people were relatively more difficult, while for those with more severe loss, goals relating to detailed central visual function (such as reading) were relatively more difficult.

We also looked at the differences in perceptions of difficulty between those with RP and those who support a person with RP. While there was a relatively good match in perceived levels of difficulty, supporters thought people with RP had more difficulty with administrative tasks and domestic chores than those with RP did, and less difficulty with goals relating to communicating with people.

We hope that this paper highlights some areas where people with RP, and their supporters, may benefit from more assistance in addition to traditional orientation and mobility skills. We would highlight work related activities, central visual tasks for those with more severe loss, and difficulties with communicating with people particularly for those with early loss and those supporting someone with RP.

A particular thank you to all the members of RP Fighting Blindness who took part in this study – we hope that what we have found will be useful to you, and a summary will be on its way to you as soon as possible!

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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!

Reader

Very pleased to say that the Vice Chancellor told me this morning that my application for Readership was successful – hurrah!

Prof Cert LV

The College confirmed yesterday that with my professional certificate in low vision, I can now use the additional affix of Prof Cert LV after my name. Very happy with this, as I was missing a V!

More on visual standards for driving…

There’s been some press interest over the last couple of days in our study looking at visual acuity standards for driving. I gave an interview on the Drivetime show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire yesterday, and The Times featured a piece this morning (although ignore the headline in the web based version, and also the photo unless it would be useful for a comedy lecture on “how not to do ophthalmoscopy”…).

Visual standards for driving

We have just published a paper in BJO which examines the relationship between the two UK visual acuity standards for driving: the ability to read a number plate at 20m, which has been a longstanding visual requirement for driving in the UK, and the ability to read 6/12 on a letter chart, which was introduced as a standard in 2012 to bring the UK into line with European directives.

There is not perfect equivalence between the standards: some drivers will be able to read a number plate but not the appropriate line on an acuity chart, while others will achieve the test chart requirement but not be able to read a number plate. These findings have implications for assessment of visual adequacy to drive, particularly for police officers and driving test instructors who assess the ability to read a number plate, and for optometrists and doctors who assess the visual acuity of drivers.

Latham K, Katsou MF, Rae S. Advising patients on visual fitness to drive: implications of revised DVLA regulations. Br J Ophthalmol doi:10.1136/bjophthalmol-2014-306173.

The effect of trial frames on adaptive gait

We have recently published a paper in ‘Gait & Posture’ examining whether the use of trial frames when correcting the vision of participants in adaptive gait studies might in itself alter adaptive gait. We found that this is indeed the case, and that wearing a full or half-eye trial frame made participants more cautious in an obstacle crossing task.

Timmis MA, Turner K, Latham K. The effect of trial frames on adaptive gait. Gait & Posture, 2014. DOI: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2014.10.021

Low Vision certificate

Nov14 014b

I was very happy to receive my Professional Certificate in Low Vision at the College of Optometrists’ graduation at Central Hall, Westminster yesterday. A lovely day, and so nice to see colleagues and former students receiving awards. There may be some better photos, but thanks to Dad for taking this one! It’s very nice to have some certificated proof that I know at least a teensy bit about low vision!

MPhil success

Many congratulations to Maria Foteini Katsou, who successfully defended her MPhil thesis on Friday, subject to minor amendments.

As a graduate of Anglia Ruskin’s Optical Management degree, Maria becomes one of the very few dispensing opticians to progress directly to a research degree, without ‘detouring’ into optometry first.

Very well done, Maria!

Road Safety and Eye Health working group

I was pleased to be invited to attend the Road Safety and Eye Health working group today to present the main findings of Maria’s project comparing performance on the number plate test with visual acuity tests. It was a pleasure to be able to contribute something of relevance to a group drawn from a wide range of backgrounds, but all with the aim of improving road safety through better eye health and visual checks.