RIT faculty earns NIH grant to use virtual reality to help stroke patients regain lost vision
Scientists from Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester aim to use virtual reality to help restore vision for people with stroke-induced blindness. The team of researchers led by Gabriel Diaz, associate professor at RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a method they believe could revolutionize rehabilitation for patients with cortically induced blindness. The condition afflicts about 1% of the population over age 50.
While there are well-established therapies to help stroke patients regain their motor functions, there are no standardized rehabilitation strategies to restore lost vision. Over the past 10 years, Krystel Huxlin, the James V. Aquavella, M.D. Professor in Ophthalmology at UR’s Flaum Eye Institute, has found that these patients can regain portions of their vision through targeted exercises that force them to use the blind portions of their visual field. Huxlin and Diaz believe virtual reality could be a key to helping this form of treatment take the next step.