The National Eye Institute reports that blindness or low vision affects 3.3 million Americans age 40 and over, or one in 28. This figure is projected to reach 5.5 million by the year 2020. The majority of these individuals have some usable visual ability, but are impaired in ways the significantly affect the ability to perform everyday activities.

The long-term goal of this project is to provide tools to enable the design of safe environments for the mobility of low-vision individuals and to enhance safety for others, including the elderly, who may need to operate under low luminance and other visually challenging conditions. We aim to develop the basic technology allowing computer-based design tools in which complex, real-world environments such as a hotel lobby, large classroom, or hospital reception area could be simulated with sufficient accuracy to predict the visibility of key landmarks or obstacles (e.g., steps or benches) under a variety of natural and artificial lighting conditions.

Additional information is available about the project's background and approach, current progress, and publications.

This is a multi-disciplinary project involving personnel from the University of Minnesota, the University of Utah, and Indiana University, and supported by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health grant 1 R01 EY017835-01.