Testing visual contrast with contrast boards – special viewing boards with graduated levels of contrast – is an everyday medical routine in ophthalmology. It is used to check new treatments for eye conditions. eyetrial, the Steinbeis Transfer Center at the Institute for Ophthalmic Research in Tübingen, has been working with VISUS GmbH from Herrenberg on standardized conditions for testing visual contrast. In recognition of their successful partnership, the two project partners have been awarded the Steinbeis Foundation Transfer Award.
At the start of the project, the main difficulty was that it was not possible to create uniform conditions for illuminating contrast charts. In a series of experiments, the Steinbeis experts at the Institute for Ophthalmic Research at Tübingen University Hospital ascertained that standard room lighting – no matter how they are made – cannot produce homogenous lighting conditions. The luminance required to test photopic contrast sensitivity is goverened by DIN standard EN ISO 8596, but this was neither attainable during testing relating to driving conditions nor during clinical testing. After consulting specialists in traffic safety ophthalmology, the team tested a technical solution and decided to develop an illumination system called LUVIS.
After further consultation and developing a marketing strategy, the Steinbeis team quickly contacted businesses that supply measurement devices to occupational health physicians, ophthalmologists, and pharmaceutical companies. This resulted in a successful partnership with VISUS GmbH from Herrenberg, a provider of eye testing products and visual training. The first LUVIS prototype was ready that same year and the device went into series production the following year. LUVIS ensures that testing boards under incident light are illuminated according to standards during photopic contrast and visual acuity testing, not only in terms of absolute measurements but also uniform luminance across the entire chart surface. It thus ensures that testing conditions are suitable and remain uniform for all tested drivers. Used in patient studies aimed at developing new kinds of treatments, LUVIS also makes it possible to keep measurement conditions uniform at different international locations. There was no competitive product on the market at the beginning of the project and there is still no competition now.
Another area for future collaboration between the Tubingen-based Steinbeis Enterprise and VISUS lies in the miniaturization of illumination cabinets and contrast charts, especially given the major advantages small and portable devices offer in occupational health environments.