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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Neurological Disorders - Neuroscience - Ophthalmology

‘Visual’ Acuity of the Congenitally Blind Using Visual-to-Auditory Sensory Substitution
Published: Friday, March 16, 2012
Author: Ella Striem-Amit et al.

by Ella Striem-Amit, Miriam Guendelman, Amir Amedi

Sensory Substitution Devices (SSDs) convey visual information through sounds or touch, thus theoretically enabling a form of visual rehabilitation in the blind. However, for clinical use, these devices must provide fine-detailed visual information which was not yet shown for this or other means of visual restoration. To test the possible functional acuity conveyed by such devices, we used the Snellen acuity test conveyed through a high-resolution visual-to-auditory SSD (The vOICe). We show that congenitally fully blind adults can exceed the World Health Organization (WHO) blindness acuity threshold using SSDs, reaching the highest acuity reported yet with any visual rehabilitation approach. This demonstrates the potential capacity of SSDs as inexpensive, non-invasive visual rehabilitation aids, alone or when supplementing visual prostheses.
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