Contrast sensitivity testing is carried out using contrast sensitivity charts – special eye test charts on which the letters don’t diminish in size, but show a gradually reduced contrast against a white background. Used to test vision for driver’s license requirements as well as in clinical trials of new treatments for eye conditions, this important type of testing is an everyday practice in ophthalmology clinics.
An initial difficulty was that establishing uniform lighting conditions for contrast charts proved impossible. The project team at the Steinbeis Transfer Center eyetrial, based at the centre of ophthalmology at the University of Tübingen, discovered in its study that homogenous illumination of contrast sensitivity charts was not possible with standard room lighting of any kind. Although the standard DIN EN ISO 8596 governs the lighting conditions to be used when testing photopic contrast sensitivity, it could not be fulfilled for either driving-related testing or clinical drug trials. After consulting experts in driving-related ophthalmological issues, the team tested a technical solution and decided to develop the LUVIS illumination system.
In order to further coordinate and develop a marketing strategy, the Steinbeis team early on established contacts to companies that supply measurement devices to occupational physicians, eye doctors and pharmaceutical companies. This resulted in successful collaboration with VISUS GmbH in Herrenberg, a supplier of products for eye tests and visual training. The first LUVIS prototype was developed that same year and went into series production the following year. LUVIS ensures the standardized illumination of top-illuminated test charts used in photopic contrast sensitivity and other vision testing, resulting in absolute measurement values and uniform light density across the entire chart surface. As a result, all drivers are examined fairly under identical testing conditions. In patient studies for new therapies, LUVIS ensures identical measurement conditions at all international trial locations. No similar product was on the market when the study was first started, and this remains the case today. An area for future collaboration between the Steinbeis Enterprise and VISUS has already been pinpointed: the miniaturization of the illumination cabinets and charts. This is particularly of interest in occupational medicine, where small, portable devices are very advantageous. Both project partners are set to receive the Steinbeis Foundation’s Transfer Award – the Löhn Award – for their successful collaboration.
Prof. Dr. med. Barbara Wilhelm, Dr. med. Tobias Peters