This study aimed to determine the feasibility of an assessment of vision-related orientation and mobility (O&M) tasks in persons with severe vision loss. These tasks may be used for future low vision rehabilitation clinical assessments or as outcome measures in vision restoration trials.
Forty legally blind persons (mean visual acuity logMAR 2.3, or hand movements) with advanced retinitis pigmentosa participated in the Orientation & Mobility—Very Low Vision (O&M-VLV) subtests from the Low Vision Assessment of Daily Activities (LoVADA) protocol. Four categories of tasks were evaluated: route travel in three indoor hospital environments, a room orientation task (the “cafe”), a visual exploration task (the “gallery”), and a modified version of the Timed Up and Go (TUG) test, which assesses re-orientation and route travel. Spatial cognition was assessed using the Stuart Tactile Maps test. Visual acuity and visual fields were measured.
A generalized linear regression model showed that a number of measures in the O&M-VLV tasks were related to residual visual function. The percentage of preferred walking speed without an aid on three travel routes was associated with visual field (p < 0.01 for all routes) whereas the number of contacts with obstacles during route travel was associated with acuity (p = 0.001). TUG-LV task time was associated with acuity (p = 0.003), as was the cafe time and distance traveled (p = 0.006 and p < 0.001, respectively). The gallery score was the only measure that was significantly associated with both residual acuity and fields (p < 0.001 and p = 0.001, respectively).
The O&M-VLV was designed to capture key elements of O&M performance in persons with severe vision loss, which is a population not often studied previously. Performance on these tasks was associated with both binocular visual acuity and visual field. This new protocol includes assessments of orientation, which may be of benefit in vision restoration clinical trials.