Development of Functional Balance/Mobility Assessment Tools in Individuals with Central Vision Loss

Two females using tools to work on mobility


Among the leading causes of low vision and blindness in the United States are retinal diseases causing central vision loss. New interventions and therapies, such as retinal implants, sensory substitutions and stem cell therapies, are being developed and show great promise for improving or restoring functional vision in patients with various ocular conditions. However, there are currently no established methods or gold standard assessment tools that evaluate the efficacy and quality of these emerging technologies and therapeutic interventions on patients’ lives.

The long-term goal of the project is to promote the independence of people with central vision loss. We will use a patient-centered, team-based, multidisciplinary approach to achieve the following two objectives in patients with central vision loss: identify the patients’ perception of their vision-related impairments and barriers that impede their independence at home, work, and in the community; and develop a set of performance-based outcome measures that can be used to assess function levels in the domain of balance and mobility. 

Twenty subjects with a diagnosis of Stargardt’s disease or other macular dystrophies and with moderate to severe central vision loss will be recruited for participation in this project. Age/gender-matched controls will be recruited as well. Open-ended interviews will be conducted to achieve Objective 1, and laboratory-based visits will be required to conduct balance and gait assessments in Objective 2. Pilot data collected in this Pitt Seed project will be used to seek larger scale federal funding that will allow us to expand this line of research in patients with other ocular pathologies.

Principal Investigator

Rakie Cham

Goal Area