Near Sighted: A Virtual Reality App For People With Low Vision

google cardboard with a phone enclosed
Are there solutions out there for people with low vision to help them see things around them much more clearly than they are used to? We know there is the eSight eyewear available that captures images via a camera and displays them in screens housed in the eyewear. Although a viable solution, one big downside is that eSight is extremely expensive – $15,000, and is currently available only in the US. But is there anything else available that is substantially cheaper, easier to setup and use, and available wherever you are?
Near Sighted VR Augmented Aid,  an Android app meant to be used on a phone housed in a virtual reality display (read: any cardboard enclosure!) , is a very good workaround  for people who have low vision. The app, when turned on, produces stereoscopic images side by side (one for each eye) captured by the front camera of the phone. The phone, enclosed in a cardboard casing, once worn on the head using a headband, can act as eyewear that magnifies objects around the user, thus letting them see and experience their surroundings in more detail.
This app + Cardboard combo may not be practical for all day, every day purposes, but it can certainly let users do and experience a lot more in an indoor setting – chatting with friends, reading books and magazines, doing chores inside the house, etc.
The app developer indicate on their page that it may help people with the following conditions:
Macular Degeneration
Stargardt’s Disease
Ocular Albinism
Some Forms of Glaucoma
Optic Nerve Hypoplasia
Optic Atrophy
Diabetic Retinopathy
Retinitis Pigmentosa
Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy
Cone-Rod Dystrophy
Retinopathy of Prematurity
Watch the following video to see what a person with low vision thinks of Near Sighted.
Google has a DIY kit that can be purchased from various online websites starting at around $4. Several sellers also sell pre-built Cardboard kits, and their prices may range anywhere between $15 – $30.
Image source: Virtual Reality Views

This app was created by Matthew Thorns. Matthew is based out of Seattle where he works in IT. In his spare time he does app development and game design, and over the last two years, he has been a bit of a virtual reality enthusiast, making apps for Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift.

Matthew created Nearsighted VR Augmented Aid two years ago in 2014 when thinking about a childhood friend who has low vision. Since then the app has had many updates, and other groups have also taken it upon themselves to create their own vision based apps. Matthew thinks it is absolutely wonderful that we can re-purpose technology to help others.

To learn more about Matthew, visit the following links: LinkedIn, Youtube


  1. Thanks for posting! We hope to make more improvements in the near future.

  2. Will you be making an app for apple aswell?

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