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Nicole Ross, Jeffrey K Ho, Melissa Chun, Cecilia Idman-Rait, Alexis G Malkin, Ava K Bittner; Input following first time use of visual assistance mobile apps by seniors with low vision. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2021;62(8):3570.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Mobile phone applications(apps) have become important tools for everyday life and can offer additional accessibility for patients with low vision. It is unknown whether seniors with low vision will be able to use and embrace apps.
Fourteen participants were interviewed during one of 5 focus group sessions conducted via zoom videoconferencing; n=8 from Boston, n=6 from L.A. They had no prior experience with 3 visual assistance apps (Aira, SuperVision+, SeeingAI), received a study loaner iPhone with the three apps, a brief demonstration of the apps’ features, then tried the apps for ~5 minutes during the focus group, after which their feedback was solicited. Median age was 66 years (IQR 58-77), and median visual acuity in the better eye was 0.6 logMAR (IQR 0.4-0.8 logMAR). Qualitative analyses were used to explore themes from the discussion and Wilcoxon Sign Rank tests evaluated for differences according to participants’ characteristics.
A greater number of participants reported they would use Aira or SuperVision+ outside the home (57% for Aira, 50% for SuperVision+; e.g., shopping in stores, navigating streets, airports) than inside the home (28% for Aira, 21% for SuperVision+; e.g., reading, identifying objects, computer), which was not significantly influenced by age or visual acuity.The primary theme to encompass comments about Aira from 9 subjects (64%) was: “Always there for you with a human element” as they would appreciate relying on the personalized service when others were not available to assist; additionally, they felt public use was inconspicuous and less stigmatizing than other visual aids. The primary theme for SuperVision+ (from 71%; n=10) was “convenience at your fingertips: one less thing to weigh you down” as it eliminates the need to take a magnifier along with a smartphone. Preferences for the SeeingAI features and usability were more varied, with less consensus.Five participants (36%) were unable to try all three apps due to difficulty using or understanding the technology; their median age was 76 years (range 66-81) and all had age-related, acquired vision loss. Eight (57%) cited the need for additional assistance with the apps.
Low vision seniors were more likely to report indications for visual assistive apps in public places than at home. Participants appreciated the concept and convenience of the apps, but some will require further training.
This is a 2021 ARVO Annual Meeting abstract.
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