July 2019
Volume 60, Issue 9
Open Access
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   July 2019
A Visual-Arts-Based Mobile Health Solution to Promote Brain Health in Older Adults with Low Vision
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Olga Overbury
    School of Optometry, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Mariah Hogan
    School of Optometry, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Swathi Swaminathan
    Baycrest Health Sciences, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Navena Lingum
    Baycrest Health Sciences, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Aviva Altschuler
    Baycrest Health Sciences, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Kelly Murphy
    Baycrest Health Sciences, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Walter Wittich
    School of Optometry, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire en réadaptation du Montréal métropolitain, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships   Olga Overbury, None; Mariah Hogan, None; Swathi Swaminathan, None; Navena Lingum, None; Aviva Altschuler, None; Kelly Murphy, None; Walter Wittich, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science July 2019, Vol.60, 4028. doi:
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      Olga Overbury, Mariah Hogan, Swathi Swaminathan, Navena Lingum, Aviva Altschuler, Kelly Murphy, Walter Wittich; A Visual-Arts-Based Mobile Health Solution to Promote Brain Health in Older Adults with Low Vision. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(9):4028.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose : Enjoying recreational activities can improve quality of life for people of all ages and capabilities; however, vision loss can have a significant impact on participation in important leisure activities. Technology can offer solutions to bridging some barriers by bringing leisure activities to the user in the form of mobile applications. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the perception of visually impaired older adults when utilizing ArtontheBrain, an online visual-arts-based health solution designed to promote brain health and well-being in individuals who prefer to access art galleries virtually from their home.

Methods : The 16 participants (age range 65 to 93, M = 79, 10 males) had a diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration with visual acuities in the better eye between 20/60 and 20/200. All had accessed rehabilitation services and had experience using a computer at home. They were asked to interact with the ArtontheBrain website’s Learn and Play features, using an Apple iPad Air 2013 with the Google Chrome app. Using the Concurrent Think Aloud method, participants were asked to continuously comment on their activities and experiences while utilizing the site and verbalize their internal monologue. Using video recordings, the testing sessions were later transcribed verbatim and explored using qualitative description and thematic analysis.

Results : Most of the barriers were related to the accessibility of the visual aspects of the interface, including contrast and font size, whereby participants requested additional control over the magnification options, both for text as well as images of the artwork. The main positive features were the magnification and the audio option built into the Learn tab, allowing participants to access text. Positive features included the aesthetics of the app, the perceived boost to confidence in interacting with technology, and the educational and leisure benefits.

Conclusions : Despite some of the accessibility challenges, the majority of participants viewed ArtontheBrain positively. Identifying the barriers and facilitators to its use is an important step in the development of any form of technology, specifically those developed for older adults with low vision, who are often excluded from leisure activities surrounding art exploration. Next steps are to evaluate the cognitive impact of ArtontheBrain on low vision users.

This abstract was presented at the 2019 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Vancouver, Canada, April 28 - May 2, 2019.


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