Low vision research

Professor Shahina Pardhan, Dr Keziah Latham, Daryl Tabrett, Dr Gonzalez Alvarez, Dr Ahalya Subramanian, Dr Silvia Cirstea and Dr Matthew Timmis. Collaboration between Ocular Disease and Ophthalmic Epidemiology Research Group, Department of Vision and Hearing Sciences and the School of Computing and Information Sciences.

Current activities

  • Our current research focuses on how useful auditory spatial cues are to individuals with sensory impairment, both visual and auditory. We are also investigating how the brain adapts to visual impairment by enhancing hearing abilities such as auditory distance perception.

  • To determine which factors affect normal everyday activities such as reaching and grasping in patients with visual impairment.

  • To investigate and assess the difficulties that visually impaired people have in performing visual activities in daily living. Activities cover a variety of tasks that are important for independent living, such as reading medicine labels, managing money or travelling around. We are investigating how best to assess a person's difficulty with specific tasks, what factors influence a person's self-reported difficulty for various visual tasks, and whether specific visual tasks can be made easier by appropriate design.


Our research has found evidence suggesting that blind listeners are better able to judge sound distance than sighted listeners by using two important auditory distance cues (level and reverberation) more effectively. Our work also suggests that moderate hearing impairment does not prevent listeners from discriminating distance using sound cues.
We have been the first to establish how various factors such working distance, distracters, colour and contrast of the target affect reaching and grasping behaviour in low vision patients. Interestingly, we also show that, for some tasks, subjects with visual impairment performed in a similar way to normal subjects, yet in other conditions, performance was noticeably worse. 
We have also demonstrated that, for visually impaired subjects, objectively assessed difficulty in performing visual tasks of daily living does not correlate with self-reported difficulty using visual function questionnaires. 
We have outlined advice for optical practitioners in the identification and management of patients who may have depressive symptoms as a result of visual impairment. 


College of Optometrists (£45,000), College of Optometrists (£53,000), Welcome Trust (vacation scholarship), Nuffield Vacation scholarship, Royal Society conference grant and ISLRR conference grant.


Gonzalez-Alvarez, C., Subramanian, A., Pardhan, S. (2007) Reaching and grasping with restricted peripheral vision. Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics, 27 265-274
Hazel, C.A., Latham Petre, K., Armstrong, R.A., Benson, M.T., Frost, N.A., (2000). Visual function and subjective quality of life compared in subjects with acquired macular disease. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 41: 1309-1315. 
Kolarik, A. J., and Culling, J. F. (2010). "Measurement of the binaural auditory filter using a detection task," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 127, 3009-3017.