Opto-electronic systems are generally categorised into video magnifiers that are large and heavy and therefore not so easy to move and more portable electronic magnifiers. The general principle is the same: a camera gives a magnified image of an object, text, or any other item on a television screen.
These opto-electronic systems are highly popular with visually impaired people because they facilitate much greater magnification than optical systems, thus providing much more user-friendly working distances. They enable people to see a real image, rather than a virtual optical image and offer a range of amplification or contrast settings that optimize visual efficiency.
Our Research & Development team has been developing since 2001 a prototype of glasses designed to enhance the visual perception of people with low vision. These ‘augmented reality’ glasses incorporate a small camera that films what the person is looking at and projects a vivid virtual image directly onto the retina of the right eye. This virtual image can be regulated by a control unit that allows the person to enlarge his/her field of vision, magnify the image, change brightness or contrast, and zoom in on details that s/he could not distinguish without this technology.
More than 80 people have participated in the development of these glasses through clinical studies conducted at the Institut of Vision in Paris. Six people were equipped with a customized prototype to help Essilor refine the system for everyday tasks, mobility and professional activities, in order to improve wearer comfort.