PURPOSE: To compare the performance of near vision activities using additional portable electronic vision enhancement systems (p-EVES), to using optical magnifiers alone, by individuals with visual impairment.
METHODS: A total of 100 experienced optical aid users were recruited from low vision clinics at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, Manchester, UK, to a prospective two-arm cross-over randomised controlled trial. Reading, performance of near vision activities, and device usage were evaluated at baseline; and at the end of each study arm (Intervention A: existing optical aids plus p-EVES; Intervention B: optical aids only) which was after 2 and 4 months.
RESULTS: A total of 82 participants completed the study. Overall, maximum reading speed for high contrast sentences was not statistically significantly different for optical aids and p-EVES, although the critical print size and threshold print size which could be accessed with p-EVES were statistically significantly smaller (p < 0.001 in both cases). The optical aids were used for a larger number of tasks (p < 0.001), and used more frequently (p < 0.001). However p-EVES were preferred for leisure reading by 70% of participants, and allowed longer duration of reading (p < 0.001). During the study arm when they had a p-EVES device, participants were able to carry out more tasks independently (p < 0.001), and reported less difficulty with a range of near vision activities (p < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: The study provides evidence that p-EVES devices can play a useful role in supplementing the range of low vision aids used to reduce activity limitation for near vision tasks.