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'Smartphones can be a boon for visually impaired'

Smartphones can be a boon for visually impaired

Washington: iPhones and other smartphones can be a boon to those with low visions, but few doctors are recommending them to patients, according to a new study.

Among the advantages smartphones offer to people with low vision are bigger font sizes - up to 56 points - enabling such people to text and email; screens that can be brightened considerably; and global positioning system and voice features for better navigation, says senior study author Walter M. Jay of the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, US.

During the study, researchers surveyed 46 low-vision adults. They found that in only 15 percent of the cases did the doctor recommend smartphones for use.

'Young, visually-impaired patients are getting ahead of their doctors,' said Jay, professor of ophthalmology at Loyola. "Low-vision specialists should be getting out in front on this rather than being behind the curve," he added, according to a Loyola statement.

'Smartphones can dramatically improve the quality of life of people with poor vision,' said Jay, who co-authored the study with Raman Bhakhri, Robert Chun and John Coalter of the ophthalmology department at Loyola.

Eleven of the 46 patients (24 percent) used smartphones. Their average age was 36. Thirty patients (65 percent) used basic cell phones; their average age was 67. Five patients (11 percent) did not own cell phones.

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