Design considerations for the ideal low vision aid: insights from de‐brief interviews following a real‐world recording study

Eugenie Golubova, Sandra D Starke, Michael D Crossland, James S Wolffsohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Low Vision Aids (LVAs) can have a transformative impact on people living with sight loss, yet the everyday requirements for developing such devices remain poorly understood and defined. This study systematically explored LVA requirements through a structured de‐brief interview following a real‐world self‐recording study. The purpose of this work was to define the actual needs of those living with sight loss so that low vision services can better address them in future.

Thirty‐two visually impaired volunteers with varying levels of previous LVA experience participated in a de‐brief interview centred around a structured questionnaire. The de‐brief followed a one‐week real‐world study during which participants used recoding spectacles to capture and narrate all situations in which they would use a ‘perfect sight aid’. Content and thematic analyses were used to analyse interviews which had the purpose of contextualising these recordings and exploring requirements around psychological, functional and design factors.

Participants reported that 46% of tasks which they had recorded were most important to them. Of these tasks, 82% were encountered frequently. Few tasks emerged as very important across many participants, the remaining tasks reflecting individual lifestyles or circumstances. Every participant used at least one LVA in their everyday life and 72% identified further coping strategies. Current LVAs identified as consistently poor were distance LVAs, with all other devices receiving mixed or only positive feedback. Around two‐thirds of participants would prefer LVA use on an ad‐hoc / quick access basis rather than over long periods of time, and just over half would prefer to carry it rather than wearing it all day. Lack of consistency in these responses illustrated potentially different user clusters with divergent design needs. Two‐thirds of participants emphasised the desire for a discreet LVA that does not attract attention. However, since half of all participants felt self‐conscious in public or in front of other people when wearing the small recording spectacles, this may not be technically achievable.

There is a substantial opportunity for new LVAs to address visual needs that traditional devices and coping strategies cannot support. Functional, psychological and design factors require careful consideration for future LVAs to be relevant and widely adopted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-280
Number of pages15
JournalOphthalmic and Physiological Optics
Issue number2
Early online date2 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021 The Authors. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of College of Optometrists.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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