7 Healthcast: Eye Prisms
Air Date: 06/17/2002
Reported By: Janet Wu
Stroke, head injury and even tumors, can rob people of half their vision and all of your independence. Health Reporter Janet Wu tells us that one Harvard doctor may have found a way to help them regain some of their sight.

This isn't a pair of glasses; it's a simple prism of glass. And for those who receive it, it's a remarkable gift of sight.

Moving through a kitchen may not seem like a great accomplishment, but for Suzanne Coughlin, it is.

Suzanne Coughlin, Stroke patient
"It's the little things, but they make such a huge difference. I don't walk into walls anymore. I don't step on the poor dog anymore."

Two years ago, a stroke caused Suzanne to lose half her field-of-vision.

Suzanne Coughlin
"I see nothing on my left side. No fuzzy. No black. Nothing."

Now, with a new addition to her glasses, Suzanne's world had grown. This prism is placed on the top and bottom of a patient's glasses. It shifts objects to bring them into a patient's visual field.

Dr. Eli Peli, Harvard Medical School
"When they notice in the periphery an obstacle or a potential risk, they turn their head and eyes and look at it through the center again."

"I can see more things on my left than I would normally be seeing."

This virtual reality device gives a scientific view of how much the prism helps in detecting and avoiding obstacles.

Dr. Eli Peli
"We can record their eye movements if they avoid obstacles because the device made it visible or because of chance occurrence."

Suzanne says the prism has changed her life. Simple tasks like eating her dinner are much easier.

Suzanne Coughlin
"I do pick up things that I wasn't picking up before."

Dr. Peli is a low vision specialist at the Schepens Eye Institute here at Harvard University.

If you'd like more information, contact:

Rich Godfrey
Schepens Eye Research Institute
Harvard Medical School
20 Staniford St.
Boston, MA


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