Primer on Mobility Canes

Mobility canes. Some call them “white canes”. Others prefer the phrase “symbol cane”. Then there are those who use the word “stick” instead.

Whatever the nomenclature, mobility canes are a recognisable representation of sight impairment.

However, due to the various sizes and design they can come in, people may be confused as to what the differences are and if they are meant to convey different meanings.

Fortunately for you, OXSIGHT have a handy little primer to guide you through the varieties and what they represent.

 

Size Matters

The Symbol Cane – These canes are the shortest of all canes and are not meant for physical support. They are carried around to notify others that the individual may have a visual impairment. Often made out of lightweight aluminium, symbol canes are often collapsable into three or four segments so they can be folded up and stored conveniently away.

The Guide Cane – The next size up from symbol canes are guide canes. These are normally held diagonally in front of you body and used for basic protection, like detecting obstacles such as steps or kerbs. Like symbol canes, they are normally collapsable for easy storage. They may require training to use competently.

The Long Cane – The largest size of cane is the long cane. These extend out and are used by those with limited or no vision to feel the layout of the environment. Again they are collapsable, however they are normally made-to-measure to ensure maximum functionality for each individual. Training is required in order to safely operate long canes.

The Support Cane – Shorter and thicker than long canes, the support cane is used as an aid by providing physical support. They may have a handle on one end and are strong enough to support body weight which means that they are often heavier than the other types of canes. The end of a support cane will generally grip the floor to ensure that it does not slip when in use.

 

Just The Tip

Due to their functional nature, tips on the ends of guide, long, and support canes can be customised based on preferences and intended use.

Some tips may hold an advantage indoors, while others may be more suited to rugged terrain. They come in different shapes and sizes, and more may be introduced in the future as cane technology is further optimised.

Here are some of the more common ones:

Pencil Tip – A thin, straight piece of plastic which slightly extends the length of the cane, pencil tips are used in conjunction with the two-point touch technique. They are extremely lightweight so will not stress the wrist as much. However, due to their size, they are prone to being snagged in cracks and other hazards so are not as suitable for rough terrain.

Marshmallow Tip – Imagine a marshmallow on the end of a stick and that’s what you have. Their larger size provides a greater surface area of contact between the tip and the surroundings. This provides more feedback for the user. They will be slightly heavier due to the increase in bulk.

Ball Tip – One more size up is the ball tip. They are great for beginners and are suited to heavy or extended use as they wear down slower. Constant contact techniques are preferred over two-point touch when using ball tips due to their weight potentially straining the wrist. Their size means users will get alot of feedback and they are very suitable for rough terrain.

Roller Tip – These tips can come in different shapes, such as marshmallow, ball, or disk. They are capable of rolling and so making constant contact techniques easier to do as well as minimise the amount of wear the tip takes. They are good for urban environments but may struggle in more unconventional settings.

Flex Tip – Shaped like a bell, the flex tip does exactly that. When sweeping from side to side, the bell end will bounce over uneven surfaces, making it less prone to snagging. It is specifically designed for rough outdoors use.

Rover Free Wheeling Tip – Perhaps the most heavy duty tip, the rover free wheeling tip is a soft rubberised wheel attached to the end of the cane. It is designed to be rolled forwards and backwards and help navigation over really rough terrain.

Bundu Basher Tip – This tip looks like the end of thin hockey stick and was initially designed to aid navigation through the bush in South Africa. It curves up at the end to prevent it from snagging on rough terrain.

 

Once You Go White…

White – The most traditional and widely used colour for mobility canes. Instantly recognisable as an indicator of visual impairment.

Red Stripes – Often seen on top of white coloured canes, these red stripes indicate that the user also has a hearing impairment in addition to their sight loss.

Any other colour – Although non-traditional, it is possible to purchase canes in other colours. While they will not have the immediate effect of informing others of a visual impairment, they enable the user to display their own personality.

Glow in the dark – Mainly for navigation at night, these canes will not only help the user but also those around them as they can indicate where the user is. Usually, these canes do not require batteries as they will charge up in direct sunlight during the day.

Deafblind UK and OXSIGHT work in partnership to give people their sight back

Original post by Deafblind UK.


National charity, Deafblind UK, has announced a partnership with OXSIGHT, the provider of high-tech glasses that can give people with visual impairments their sight back.

The partnership sees the two organisations working closely together with the common goal of enhancing the lives of people living with sight loss. Steve Conway, CEO of Deafblind UK said: “Losing your sight can be devastating but even more so when your hearing is also impaired, and you are unable to rely on audio communications. That’s why OXSIGHT’s products are even more important to people who are deafblind.”

OXSIGHT glasses expand the field of vision for people with peripheral sight loss caused by conditions such as Glaucoma, Diabetes, Retinitis Pigmentosa, and other degenerative eye diseases. OXSIGHT are leading the way in the development of digital technology and they are building a strong pipeline of products to help those with a whole range of conditions including central vision.

Deafblind UK’s Chairman Bob Nolan uses the glasses. He said: “The moment when I first tried on the OXSIGHT glasses will stay with me for a long time. I was talking with one of my family members and I could only make out her head and shoulders in a dimly lit room. When I put the glasses on I could clearly see not one but five members of my family! When you have less than five degrees of vision as I do, looking through the glasses is nothing short of miraculous.”

Deafblind UK is a national charity supporting people with sight and hearing loss. As part of the partnership, OXSIGHT will hold monthly clinics at Deafblind UK’s office in Peterborough, where those with peripheral sight loss can book an appointment to try a pair of glasses. For every pair of glasses sold as a result of the clinic, OXSIGHT will make a donation to Deafblind UK.

Steve Conway, CEO of Deafblind UK said: “This is a fantastic example of a charity and a technology company coming together with a mutual interest to support people who are deafblind. The success stories that we have heard so far are incredible; people who haven’t seen their partner or children for years can suddenly see the world around them again. This really is life changing technology and I am proud to be a part of it.”

Rammy Arafa from OXSIGHT has been working with Deafblind UK to set up the partnership. He said: “I am delighted to be able to work so closely with Deafblind UK. They work so hard to support people with sight and hearing loss and our product will complement their existing service offering. If, by working together, we can help some of Deafblind UK’s members to see again then it’s a worthwhile venture.”

OXSIGHT clinics will take place at Deafblind UK’s office on: 21st August, 23rd October, 20th November, 18th December, 22nd January, 26th February, 25th March. For anyone interested in booking an appointment at the clinic, please complete an online form at www.oxsight.co.uk/consent. OXSIGHT registered opticians will then review your individual condition and let you know whether you are suitable to try the glasses.

Smoking and Sight Loss

The act of smoking is normally associated with a trip to the doctor’s and the subsequent discovery of cancerous cells in and around the lung region.

However, amongst the myriad of ailments smoking can cause lies vision loss.

Toxins inhaled into the body through smoking can help contribute to occurrences of vasoconstriction, reduced oxygen availability, and chronic inflammation. In addition, smoking increases the number of oxidative radicals in the body and lowers the level of antioxidants. This results in a ramp up of the body’s aging process.

However, due to the sheer amount of harmful chemicals there are in tobacco, harm is not limited to just internal. Smoke from tobacco contain ash particles and these can physically come in contact with the eye, causing harm.

This means that ocular distress from smoking is not just limited to those that actively take part in it. Bystanders within the smoker’s area of influence may also be subject to some of the harmful effects.

Here are some of the most common eye conditions associated with smoking:

 

Cataracts

Smokers will inhale heavy metals, including cadmium, iron, lead, and copper. These can accumulate in the lens of the eyes and cause damage.  Oxidative radicals can also cause changes to the lens structure and composition, contributing to the formation of cataracts, which is a clouding of the lens in the eye.

 

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD is one of the leading causes of sight loss in the UK and smoking is one of the factors why. Those that smoke can be at increased risk due to the numerous toxins present. Tar from cigarettes can also help the formations of drusens, which are fatty deposits in the retina.

Those who already have signs of AMD may find that the condition progresses faster if they are smokers.

 

Graves’ Ophthalmopathy 

Graves’ ophthalmology, also known as thyroid eye disease (TED), occurs mostly amongst individuals with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that impacts the thyroid.

Smoking can affect the thyroid gland and prevent the uptake of iodine as well as negatively impact the sympathetic nervous system which can then affect thyroid function. According to studies, smokers with Graves’ disease are at least twice as like to develop TED, with the probability increasing up to eight times for those that heavily engage in smoking.

Due to treatment methods often involving consumption of iodine, smoking can also reduce the efficacy of therapy, making it even harder to recover from.

 

Dry Eyes

Dry eye is most commonly caused by one or more glands in the lids reducing in function. This can be caused by blockages in those glands which causes more friction on the front surface of the eye. In some cases, the eyes will water profusely because the eye believes it is dry so it secretes more fluid. However, because there are three layers to the tears, if one is not functioning properly then the tear may not be able to relieve the dryness.

Although not as serious as the other conditions listed, dry eyes can be made worse due to smokers experiencing reduced tear production. If left untreated, this can lead to a variety of complications with the individual’s cornea.

stephen hicks oxsight cofounder

OXSIGHT Co-founder Stephen Hicks on the HealthRedesigned podcast

oxsight on healthredisned podcast

 

OXSIGHT co-founder and head of innovation Stephen Hicks was invited onto the HealthRedesigned podcast to talk to Matt from Hanno.

They discuss neuroscience, delve into augmented reality, and how OXSIGHT is helping those with vision problems.

This is a rare insight in the more technical side of OXSIGHT and what we are working on and the challenges that need to overcome to help as many people as possible.

Listen below and enjoy!

 

 

The state of gene therapy and stem cell treatment for blindness

Many people in the visually impaired community are (understandably) excited about the prospect of using gene therapy and stem cells to potentially cure blindness.

While there have been encouraging developments in these fields, on the whole it is still early stages.

In December 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the clinical use of voretigene neparvovec (Luxturna), the first gene therapy for any condition to be given the go ahead. This comes off the back of over 10 years of research and clinical trials, and is aimed at only those with an “inherited retinal disease caused by mutations in both copies of the RPE65 gene and who have enough remaining cells in the retina”.

There are more than 250 genes involved in the development of blindness.

When it comes to stem cells, there have been two well publicised trials involving patients with different forms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). While the results were promising, the sample sizes were very small (7 in total) and they had only undergone the first phase of trials. 

Generally it may take at least 3 trials before being submitted for approval by governing bodies. So while some may claim that these “could lead to an ‘off-the-shelf’ treatment within five years”, the timeframe makes this extremely optimistic. 

In an analysis by the National Health Service (NHS), they concluded that the 2018 results from the stem cell trials conducted by University College London, Moorfields Eye Hospital and Pfizer were “in its very early stages – bigger longer term trials will be needed to be sure it’s safe and effective”. For context, the phase I trials took three years and only included two patients. Unfortunately, there has not been any more updates since.

One of the more recent trials comes from UK-based biotech company ReNeuron Group. They had started Phase I/IIa clinical trials in the US with their human retinal progenitor cell (hRPC) therapy candidate for retinitis pigmentosa (RP) earlier this year and presented some of their early findings at the sixth annual Retinal Cell and Gene Therapy Innovation Summit in Vancouver, Canada, on the 26th April.

And while progress made has been encouraging, the trials have only been conducted with three people for less than half a year each. 

With number of hurdles needed to be overcome, one can only speculate when these treatments will successfully come to market, if at all. 

On the other hand, technology has seen tremendous growth and plays an ever increasing role in aiding those with a visual impairment. From wearables to apps, accessories to services, there are many potential solutions out there that are able to bridge the gap until a permanent solution is found.

OXSIGHT Signs Partnership with Samuels Opticians

Low vision specialist, OXSIGHT, have signed a partnership with Samuels Opticians to help make visual aids more readily available to those with sight loss in the Midlands.

OXSIGHT glasses use revolutionary imaging technology, built within Epson Moverio smart glasses to enhance the remaining sight for those living with peripheral vision loss caused by glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, and other degenerative eye diseases. The completion of this agreement increases the number of partners OXSIGHT have and further improves their ability to provide low vision services to the visually impaired community.

Samuels Opticians provide leading eyecare services and is run by Tony Samuels, who has over 40 years experience as an optician. Previously, Tony Samuels had set up an award-winning low vision clinic at Manor Hospital Walsall. He has two clinics in the Midlands and is excited to be part of this new venture.

“As an optometrist I have specialised in aids to assist people with low vision for nearly 40 years,” commented Tony Samuels.

“OXSIGHT is at the forefront of this technology with a unique low vision aid which is designed for those who have peripheral loss of vision compared to most aids designed for those with a loss of central vision. It is only recently that modern technology has been used to help such people. The look of delight on a successful OXSIGHT user and their family says it all. I am delighted to have been chosen by OXSIGHT as their clinical partner for the Midlands and look forward to helping as many people as possible.”

To mark the occasion, OXSIGHT will be joint-hosting an open day at Samuels Opticians in Solihull on 29th June, offering demonstrations of the glasses along with talks from current users.

OXSIGHT users have experienced an increased field of view of up to 68 degrees. Many utilise the different modes on offer to enhance their remaining vision and experience sights they thought they had lost forever.

“I’ve used super colour mode whilst sorting out my washing. It is really good for that as I could tell the difference between black and navy socks,” said Julie, an OXSIGHT user. “I had given up trying different things before I had the glasses because it was upsetting that I couldn’t do certain activities. However, these glasses are giving me a new enjoyment in life.”

 

About OXSIGHT:

OXSIGHT is a fast-growing digital eye care technology company established in 2016 as a spinout from Oxford University. It has developed a portfolio of products that are transforming the lives of the visually impaired, their friends, colleagues and the community around them.

It makes glasses that can make a real difference to people with conditions that cause peripheral vision loss. These include Glaucoma, Diabetic Retinopathy, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Myopic Degeneration, Retinopathy of prematurity and other degenerative eye diseases. Its glasses have also helped people with a visual impairment caused following a stroke, such as homonymous hemianopia.

The company has worked in partnership with leading global players from both the visually impaired community and the technology sector. These include Google, The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), Moorfields Eye Hospital, Guide Dogs Association and The Royal Academy of Engineering.

OXSIGHT is building a network of clinics in the UK and has operations in Europe, India and China.

 

Contact information:

Tel: 01865 580255

Email: care@oxsight.co.uk

OXSIGHT Team Running for Retina UK

Less than 50 days to go until OXSIGHT Customer Care Manager Shaun Claridge sets off over the gruelling 26.2 miles of the London Marathon as part of the 2019 Retina UK team.

Having met the charities organisers, volunteers and members Shaun felt it was time to step up and try to help and is being supported by everyone in the OXSIGHT team as he attempts raise as much money as possible for Retina UK.

Shaun and his daughter with half eaten oreo cookies

Shaun’s training diet includes 5 meals of half an Oreo a day

The London Marathon is just the starting point for Shaun’s 20/20 Challenge where he will attempt to run 20 x 20 mile runs before the end of 2020.  That’s 400 miles of pure pain for Retina UK!  We will be sharing regular updates from Shaun’s 20/20 challenge, his progress, his injuries and just how much cake one man can eat in a year!

Henshaws reviews OXSIGHT glasses

Henshaws is a charity based in the North of England that have been helping those with sight loss and other disabilities for over 180 years. They work to help reduce social isolation and increase independence through empowering disabled people to go beyond expectations and achieve their ambitions.

They were kind enough to do an honest review of our Crystal glasses, which includes a quick demonstration and a look through the various modes we offer.

Ambassador Insights: A Rekindled Joy

Guest post by Anna.woman with short hair with oxsight crystal glasses

Anna has retinitis pigementosa and became an OXSIGHT Ambassador in December 2018. She is currently enjoying all the ways that OXSIGHT Crystal is enhancing her life. 


My mum was very keen on art and, during a visit to Paris when I was 15, she took me to see numerous galleries — mainly containing impressionist paintings. I’ve had RP all my life and I remember being able to see more as a teenager than I can now, approaching 50. The difference is subtle — my field of vision has always been poor, but my ability to deal with light and dark has diminished.

These days, I often find galleries poorly lit and sometimes can barely make out what is behind the glass when I look at a painting. My long-suffering and patient husband has come with me on many occasions, but the whole experience becomes tiring and frustrating. So, I’d pretty much stopped going.

I’ve tried the OXSIGHT Crystal glasses in two galleries: The National Portrait Gallery in London and the Tate, Liverpool. The impact that they have had is wonderful.

woman in a gallery looking at paintings with oxsight glasses and a guide dog

Anna using OXSIGHT Crystal at the gallery

There was not a single painting in the Portrait Gallery that I couldn’t see. Even for dark paintings, I could tune the glasses so that the image became lighter and possible for me to view clearly. I could zoom out, look at a wall of paintings with a couple sweeps of my eyes, then zoom in on the painting I wanted to focus on.

The good thing about the Portrait Gallery was that I knew every painting would contain a face, although some of them were a little confusing. The Liverpool Tate, with many modern paintings, was a little more challenging but I still enjoyed my visit very much.

In the Tate, some paintings were huge and I would start by minimising them to as small a size as possible so I could see the whole picture with just a few movements of my eye. Without the glasses, even if I had good enough light to see a painting clearly, I would need several minutes to scan over it as my field of view is so low (about three degrees). I explained to Rammy from OXSIGHT that if he imagined each painting as being a jigsaw made up of 100 pieces, I could only see about three of those pieces at any one time depending on how close I was to each painting and its size. So, on this basis, my eyes would have to move over thirty times to take in a whole painting.

woman in a gallery looking at paintings with oxsight glasses and a guide dog

Great day out with Inca, Anna’s guide dog

At one point, I was asked to turn and look at a painting. I did so, and said “Do you mean the round one?” Then I realised this was something that I wouldn’t usually say as, in normal life, I can’t just glance at a painting of an average size and determine what shape it is as I see so little of it at any one time. But, with the glasses on, I did this without even thinking.

I went to the Tate last weekend and many of the paintings are still clear in my mind, particularly the colours. The paintings were often more difficult to discern than the portraits I’d seen in London, but it didn’t seem to take my companions long to get me to the same level of appreciation that they were experiencing — a minute or two perhaps. Some pictures, less than 10%, I didn’t grasp but I imagine that modern art can be like this for everyone. With an audio guide, which the Tate didn’t provide for some reason, I think I would have been right up there with the sighted visitors.

Two very enjoyable visits, and further proof that art galleries can now play a more prominent role in my life than they did before. And especially pleasing as art was something that my Mum had wished me to appreciate.

OXSIGHT North of England Low Vision Roadshow 2019

15 shows in 15 days
OUR VISION IS YOUR VISION
21st January – 8th February 2019
Manchester, Sheffield, Preston, Morecambe & many more…

OXSIGHT present the North of England Low Vision Roadshow 2019. We have joined forces with local sight loss charities to launch a debut annual event across three-weeks to tour cities across the North to allow those who are living with peripheral vision loss to try out potentially life-changing technology.

Tuesday 22nd January – Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind 10-4pm
Wednesday 23 January – Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind 10-4pm
Thursday 24th January – Bradbury Fields, Liverpool 9-3pm

Monday 28th January – Galloways Southport 1-3pm
Tuesday 29th January – Galloways Preston 10:30-3pm
Wednesday 30th January – Galloways Chorley 10:30-3pm
Thursday 31st January – Galloways Morecambe 10:30-3pm
Friday 1st February – Sight & Sound, Rotherham 10-3pm

Monday 4th February – Leeds Jewish Blind Society 10-3pm
Tuesday 5th February – ABA Leeds 11-3pm
Wednesday 6th February – Princess St. Hotel, Manchester, 10-4pm in collaboration with Henshaws