Ability of Head-Mounted Display Technology to Improve Mobility in People With Low Vision: A Systematic Review
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to undertake a systematic literature review on how vision enhancements, implemented using head-mounted displays (HMDs), can improve mobility, orientation, and associated aspects of visual function in people with low vision.
Methods: The databases Medline, Chinl, Scopus, and Web of Science were searched for potentially relevant studies. Publications from all years until November 2018 were identified based on predefined inclusion and exclusion criteria. The data were tabulated and synthesized to produce a systematic review.
Results: The search identified 28 relevant papers describing the performance of vision enhancement techniques on mobility and associated visual tasks. Simplifying visual scenes improved obstacle detection and object recognition but decreased walking speed. Minification techniques increased the size of the visual field by 3 to 5 times and improved visual search performance. However, the impact of minification on mobility has not been studied extensively. Clinical trials with commercially available devices recorded poor results relative to conventional aids.
Conclusions: The effects of current vision enhancements using HMDs are mixed. They appear to reduce mobility efficiency but improved obstacle detection and object recognition. The review highlights the lack of controlled studies with robust study designs. To support the evidence base, well-designed trials with larger sample sizes that represent different types of impairments and real-life scenarios are required. Future work should focus on identifying the needs of people with different types of vision impairment and providing targeted enhancements.
Translational Relevance: This literature review examines the evidence regarding the ability of HMD technology to improve mobility in people with sight loss.