Interactive vision simulator illustrates the vision loss caused by retinal diseases


The online tool shows vision loss simulations for diabetic macular oedema, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and other retinal diseases

A researcher sits at a computer. Image credit: ©lightpoet –

The simulations can empower patients to communicate their lived experience with family and caretakers. Image credit: ©lightpoet –

"Knowledge is power" is an old adage, but it holds weight, and is especially true when it comes to health. By receiving a diagnosis, patients gain the knowledge of how their condition may progress as well as their options for treatments to prevent or reverse symptoms. Understanding a condition can empower family members and caregivers to better assist those who may be experiencing low vision or vision loss. Researchers cultivate an understanding of diseases to develop treatments and provide better outcomes for patients. Part of the overall challenge in vision education is understanding what patients experience, and seeing through their eyes–literally, in cases of ocular disease.

Online tools can empower those who are experiencing vision changes to understand their condition as well as communicate their lived experience with those around them. One such online tool providing this knowledge is the Vision Simulator on This tool shows disease progression and vision loss simulations for diabetic macular oedema, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP) and achromatopsia.1

On its landing page, the Vision Simulator1 provides a page for each of these diseases. On the disease page, visitors will find a short video that summarises the condition, an interactive patient perspective of healthy vision compared to vision affected by the disease, a cellular view, and an example of an optical coherence tomography scan. In some simulations, there is an adjustable level which shows the impact on vision loss at varying severities. Some conditions also feature a 3D model that allows the user to explore inside the eye to better see exactly where the disease is affecting the organ.1 These elements provide a well-rounded introduction to some of the most prominent retinal diseases seen in ophthalmic offices through visuals and everyday language, making them accessible to patients and their families. In this case, knowledge can foster empathy and provide a point of reference that is easily shared and used as a reference.

Gaining knowledge through retinal research

This introduction to common retinal conditions represents a larger goal of the pharmaceutical and ophthalmic community. Janssen is in the process of developing gene therapies for inherited retinal diseases, such as achromatopsia and XLRP, as well as geographic atrophy caused by AMD.2 Several other companies, including 4DMT, Adverum, Alvotech, EyePoint Pharmaceuticals and Ocular Therapeutix, have also focused on developing AMD treatments in early 2024.3 In the inherited retinal disease space, Stargardt disease and RP remain among the top areas of study as findings from clinical trials continue to progress our understanding of these genetic blinding conditions.

The value of this research is not only a hope for the future for patients currently facing decreasing vision and blinding conditions but also for those who have yet to develop or be diagnosed with such conditions. By continuing to conduct trials, understand the mechanisms of disease, and communicate clearly with patients about the nature of their conditions, the ophthalmic community is gaining knowledge, empowering each other, and working toward a future with better sight for all.


1. Experience the Vision Simulator. Janssen. Accessed April 15, 2024.
2. Janssen Retina’s research dares to envision a world of healthy sight. Janssen. Accessed April 15, 2024.
3. Crago SM. Clinical trials: companies tackle AMD in early 2024. Modern Retina. April 2, 2024. Accessed April 18,2024.
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