Patients with primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) prefer enhancements in graphical interfaces when using computers, according to findings published in Ophthalmology Glaucoma.

In a prospective experimental cohort study, researchers sought to learn the impacts of glaucoma on computer use as well as assess graphic adaptations that patients with POAG could benefit from. The study consisted of 49 participants, including 16 patients with POAG (62.7 years ± 5.6 years old ), 17 aged-matched participants (59.1 years ± 8.3 years old), and 16 younger controls (23.3 years ± 2.1 years old). After undergoing ophthalmologic examinations, participants completed an information technology (I.T.) experience questionnaire, an eye-tracking preference task, and a feedback session. The ophthalmologic exam that POAG patients received measured visual loss (MD), visual acuity (LogMar), and contrast sensitivity (CS).

For the experimental task in the study, participants selected the most readable and comfortable stimulus from 4 displayed images, including the original computer display and 3 enhanced versions. The enhanced levels were set at low, medium, and high based on gradual moderation of contrast, luminance, and color. 


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The results revealed a greater need for enhanced computer scenes and longer oculomotor behavior among those with POAG, as well as a difference in preference for graphical enhancements for the 2 groups of older participants.

“(Principal component 1) was labeled ‘Graphical Interface Enhancement Needed’ and showed a main group effect (F=12.16, P <.001),” the study explains. “This component was significantly lower in the young control group compared to the age-matched group (P = 0.02) and the glaucoma patients (P <.001).”

There was an association between self-reported difficulty using I.T. and visual impairment with high enhancement preference. CS affected the preference for enhanced computer scenes positively (P <.002) and exploration velocity negatively (P <.002). These results accounted for 72% of the total variance in the data.

Limitations include sample size as well as the fact that the 15.6-inch laptop on which the task was conducted may have been small for participants who are accustomed to using desktop computers.

The researchers explain that, though the rate of smartphone and computer use was similar among all 3 study groups, one major difference in the use of technology was that the glaucoma group had significantly higher use of tablets (62% of POAG patients, compared with 29% of age-matched controls and 13% of younger controls). 

“This suggests that while computers and smartphones could be sufficient for controls, an in-between device with a larger screen could be more suitable for low-vision patients,” the study concludes. “In a highly digitized society, these results emphasize the importance of including I.T.-related questions when assessing the quality of life of glaucoma patients, even in the elderly.”

Reference

Garric C, Rouland JF, Lenoble Q. Glaucoma and computer use: do contrast and color enhancements improve visual comfort in patients? Ophthalmology Glaucoma February 6, 2021. doi:10.1016/j.ogla.2021.01.006.