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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Reading aids for adults with low vision

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, April 2018
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  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (89th percentile)
  • Average Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source

Mentioned by

2 policy sources
18 X users
2 Wikipedia pages


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Readers on

491 Mendeley
Reading aids for adults with low vision
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, April 2018
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd003303.pub4
Pubmed ID

Gianni Virgili, Ruthy Acosta, Sharon A Bentley, Giovanni Giacomelli, Claire Allcock, Jennifer R Evans


The purpose of low-vision rehabilitation is to allow people to resume or to continue to perform daily living tasks, with reading being one of the most important. This is achieved by providing appropriate optical devices and special training in the use of residual-vision and low-vision aids, which range from simple optical magnifiers to high-magnification video magnifiers. To assess the effects of different visual reading aids for adults with low vision. We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (which contains the Cochrane Eyes and Vision Trials Register) (2017, Issue 12); MEDLINE Ovid; Embase Ovid; BIREME LILACS, OpenGrey, the ISRCTN registry; ClinicalTrials.gov and the World Health Organization (WHO) International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP). The date of the search was 17 January 2018. This review includes randomised and quasi-randomised trials that compared any device or aid used for reading to another device or aid in people aged 16 or over with low vision as defined by the study investigators. We did not compare low-vision aids with no low-vision aid since it is obviously not possible to measure reading speed, our primary outcome, in people that cannot read ordinary print. We considered reading aids that maximise the person's visual reading capacity, for example by increasing image magnification (optical and electronic magnifiers), augmenting text contrast (coloured filters) or trying to optimise the viewing angle or gaze position (such as prisms). We have not included studies investigating reading aids that allow reading through hearing, such as talking books or screen readers, or through touch, such as Braille-based devices and we did not consider rehabilitation strategies or complex low-vision interventions. We used standard methods expected by Cochrane. At least two authors independently assessed trial quality and extracted data. The primary outcome of the review was reading speed in words per minute. Secondary outcomes included reading duration and acuity, ease and frequency of use, quality of life and adverse outcomes. We graded the certainty of the evidence using GRADE. We included 11 small studies with a cross-over design (435 people overall), one study with two parallel arms (37 participants) and one study with three parallel arms (243 participants). These studies took place in the USA (7 studies), the UK (5 studies) and Canada (1 study). Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) was the most frequent cause of low vision, with 10 studies reporting 50% or more participants with the condition. Participants were aged 9 to 97 years in these studies, but most were older (the median average age across studies was 71 years). None of the studies were masked; otherwise we largely judged the studies to be at low risk of bias. All studies reported the primary outcome: results for reading speed. None of the studies measured or reported adverse outcomes.Reading speed may be higher with stand-mounted closed circuit television (CCTV) than with optical devices (stand or hand magnifiers) (low-certainty evidence, 2 studies, 92 participants). There was moderate-certainty evidence that reading duration was longer with the electronic devices and that they were easier to use. Similar results were seen for electronic devices with the camera mounted in a 'mouse'. Mixed results were seen for head-mounted devices with one study of 70 participants finding a mouse-based head-mounted device to be better than an optical device and another study of 20 participants finding optical devices better (low-certainty evidence). Low-certainty evidence from three studies (93 participants) suggested no important differences in reading speed, acuity or ease of use between stand-mounted and head-mounted electronic devices. Similarly, low-certainty evidence from one study of 100 participants suggested no important differences between a 9.7'' tablet computer and stand-mounted CCTV in reading speed, with imprecise estimates (other outcomes not reported).Low-certainty evidence showed little difference in reading speed in one study with 100 participants that added electronic portable devices to preferred optical devices. One parallel-arm study in 37 participants found low-certainty evidence of higher reading speed at one month if participants received a CCTV at the initial rehabilitation consultation instead of a standard low-vision aids prescription alone.A parallel-arm study including 243 participants with AMD found no important differences in reading speed, reading acuity and quality of life between prism spectacles and conventional spectacles. One study in 10 people with AMD found that reading speed with several overlay coloured filters was no better and possibly worse than with a clear filter (low-certainty evidence, other outcomes not reported). There is insufficient evidence supporting the use of a specific type of electronic or optical device for the most common profiles of low-vision aid users. However, there is some evidence that stand-mounted electronic devices may improve reading speeds compared with optical devices. There is less evidence to support the use of head-mounted or portable electronic devices; however, the technology of electronic devices may have improved since the studies included in this review took place, and modern portable electronic devices have desirable properties such as flexible use of magnification. There is no good evidence to support the use of filters or prism spectacles. Future research should focus on assessing sustained long-term use of each device and the effect of different training programmes on its use, combined with investigation of which patient characteristics predict performance with different devices, including some of the more costly electronic devices.

X Demographics

X Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 18 X users who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.
Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 491 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United States 2 <1%
Unknown 489 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 69 14%
Student > Bachelor 58 12%
Researcher 43 9%
Student > Ph. D. Student 40 8%
Other 26 5%
Other 79 16%
Unknown 176 36%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 106 22%
Nursing and Health Professions 59 12%
Psychology 25 5%
Engineering 17 3%
Social Sciences 13 3%
Other 72 15%
Unknown 199 41%
Attention Score in Context

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 22. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 01 February 2023.
All research outputs
of 25,461,852 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 12,090 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 340,832 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 163 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 25,461,852 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 93rd percentile: it's in the top 10% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 12,090 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 38.2. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 71% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 340,832 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done well, scoring higher than 89% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 163 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 50% of its contemporaries.