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Publication Detail
Ways of Seeing and Perceiving in Cases of Visual Impairment
  • Publication Type:
    Conference presentation
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Cammack J
  • Date:
  • Name of Conference:
    European Conference on Low Vision
  • Conference place:
    Keble College, Oxford
  • Conference start date:
  • Conference finish date:
The limits of visual function can be measured using psychophysical techniques but little work has been done on how these measurable deficits relate to everyday perceptual experience. Working with patients from Moorfields Eye Hospital, this research investigates how perception, and so our conscious model of the world, is affected by specific deficiencies in identifiable components of the visual system. In-depth, open-ended interviews were conducted with each patient using documentary filmmaking techniques, and analysed using a narrative analysis methodology. A range of psychophysical measurements was also made. Findings are presented from a patient with Congenital Stationary Night Blindness. I used to feel, "Why can't I be as hurried and urgent as everybody else?" - because if a bomb were to drop I was slowing everybody down. That's the first time I ever worried about my night-blindness. I couldn't put a name to it; I just worried about the fact that I had to get from the house to the shelter in pitch-dark. All you need to navigate is a light source, a little dot of light and then you make for it. I developed the technique of drawing an imaginary line between a light and where I was, I would fix my gaze on the light and walk. And like that I used to go from light to light to light. Reflections are a great friend to a person with my eye problem. On a dry evening I could walk slap-bang into a parked car, but when it rains you've got all this glistening, the kerb is lit up by reflections. It won't throw out enough light to light my way but it would throw out enough light for me to be able to navigate better. People don't realize that their dark isn't my dark. Psychophysical tests indicate this patient has reduced L-cone function and an absence of normal S-cone function in addition to the expected losses of rod function. This study demonstrates the valuable complementary role that rich descriptive patient testimony can play, alongside psychophysical and clinical investigations, in reaching a fuller understanding of the subjective experience of low vision. Supported by The Leverhulme Trust, Moorfields Eye Hospital Special Trustees and NIHR Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre.
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