Vision is one of the basic five senses in human body which enables us to receive the details, color, and contrast to differentiate objects. However, the capacity of the eye to see diminishes naturally with age. This can be corrected by glasses, medications, or surgery. Changes in vision due to poor health, injury, or eye disease can sometimes lead to partial or complete blindness. Partial vision loss is termed as vision impairment or low vision.
Vision loss may occur at varying degrees such as central vision impairment leading to blind spots, difficulty in seeing fine details, and differentiate colors. Cornea impairment leads to blurred vision, peripheral vision impairment resulting in inability to perceive motion or see in low light. Assistive technologies are devices or equipment that maintain and improve functional capabilities of people with impaired vision. Assistive technology devices could be software, hardware, or standalone device. Different types of assistive technologies are available for visually impaired patients to address different inabilities. These are manufactured to support academic and learning aids, mobility aids, and others.
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According to the Lighthouse National Survey on Vision Loss, in 2010, the U.S. had 8.3 million people aged 65 and above who had some type of visual impairment. This number is expected to increase rapidly from 2010 to 2030 to reach 14.8 million, 7.7 million of which will have a severe impairment. In 1995, the economic impact of visual disorders and disabilities was approximately US$ 38.4 Bn per year. Of this, eye diseases and disorders cost US$ 22.3 Bn in direct costs and US$ 16.1 Bn in indirect costs every year. Over 2 million people in the U.K. had some degree of visual impairment in 2015. According to RNIB statistics, 1 in 5 people aged 75 or more are living with vision loss and nearly 2/3 of those are women. The number of visually impaired people in the U.K. is set to double by 2050 as the population ages.
Government initiatives, funding programs, and technological advancements are the primary drivers of the assistive technologies for visually impaired market. Increase in efforts by manufacturers for the development of highly advanced, technology-based devices is also fueling the growth of the market. Future development of innovative devices for assistance in travelling and computer and smart devices access is also likely to boost the growth of the market. Lack of appropriate technology and high price of devices are some of the restraints of the market.
Based on type, the global assistive technologies for visually impaired market can be segmented into non-optical low vision devices, low/medium tech devices, optical devices, Braille technology, screen enlargement & readers, video magnifiers, auditory access devices, tactile graphics technology and others. Braille technology is further sub-segmented into Braille translation software, Braille writing equipment, and Braille embosser. Optical devices is anticipated to be the largest segment of the market. Computer access technologies such as screen enlargement and readers are expected to be the fastest growing segment of the market due to the advent of smart devices.
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In terms of application, the global assistive technologies for visually impaired market can be categorized into education (reading, writing, and learning), computer access, orientation & mobility, and physical & social education.
Based on end-user, the global assistive technologies for visually impaired market can be divided into blind schools, enterprises & social organizations, and disabled persons federation & hospital.
In terms of region, the global assistive technologies for visually impaired market can be segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. Growth of the assistive technologies for visually impaired market in different regions is dependent on factors such as reimbursement issues, medical practices, and education, and training. Considering the revenue generated by the services for visually impaired market, North America is expected to be the largest market owing to increase in demand in the U.S. driven by rise in prevalence of chronic disorders and surge in geriatric population.
Key players operating in the global assistive technologies for visually impaired market are Ai Squared, C-Tech, Freedom Scientific, Humanware, Serotek, Apple, Inc., Astec Assistive Tech Solutions, Nippon Telesoft, BAUM Retec, Papenmeier, and Amedia.