Indiana University Optometry Professor Secures $1.9 Million to Study Street Crossing for the Visually Impaired

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind.—Indiana University Bloomington School of Optometry assistant professor and low-vision optometrist, Shirin E. Hassan, OD, has been awarded more than $1.9 million by the National Institutes of Health to evaluate street-crossing decision-making performance in pedestrians who are elderly, visually impaired or blind. She will investigate the effectiveness of a current orientation and mobility street-crossing training program used by numerous orientation and mobility instructors across the country to teach safe street-crossing techniques to this high-risk group of pedestrians. This represents the first time the training program has been assessed and measured. Over the next five years, she will also conduct a series of other street-crossing experiments in real, outdoor traffic environments using an innovative measuring technique that she developed in an earlier street-crossing study.

The study will provide the framework for developing objective, evidence-based recommendations for use by low-vision optometrists and health care professionals about when they should refer their patients for street-crossing decision training.

“With my new clinical recommendations, low-vision optometrists and health care clinicians will have the tools needed to recognize early on when their patients should receive street-crossing training,” Hassan said. “This is the next critical step in patient care for people needing low-vision rehabilitation.”

The Hassan study is seeking to recruit participants age 65 and older, irrespective of their vision status. To volunteer or to learn more about the research study, contact the Hassan laboratory at 812-855-9405, by email at shhassan@indiana.edu or through the project website.