People who are partially-sighted following stroke or brain injury could gain greater independence from simple training which could eventually be delivered via mobile phones.
New research has found that a computer based technique improved partially sighted people's ability to 'see' better.
It may eventually improve and broaden the portfolio of rehabilitation techniques for partially-sighted patients. The study, published in the academic journal, Brain, tested the technique on patients who suffer from a condition affecting their sight called hemianopia.
The study, which tested patients' visual ability before and after the training, found that patients became faster and more accurate at detecting objects, such as coloured dots or numbers, on a computer screen.
The researchers believe the test helped patients to compensate for their lost vision by exploring their 'blind field' more, which is the part of the visual field affected by the brain damage. Further research is needed to pinpoint exactly why the technique helps patients to 'see' better but the scientists believe it is likely due to improved attention, concentration and awareness of their visual problems.
The study findings offer hope that people who receive regular training like this could live more independently in their day-to-day lives because their visual ability would be improved.
Lead researcher, Dr Alison Lane, from the Psychology Department, said: "This research shows us that basic training works in getting people to use their 'poor' visual side better.
"Although we are not yet sure why this happens, we think it might be because training increases their attention, concentration and awareness of their 'blind' field. We think attention is key in improving people's abilities to use their limited vision."
Currently, there is no widely available treatment for people who experience visual loss following brain damage because of the lack of scientific evidence that existing therapies are effective, according to the study authors.
Coverage includes: Scientific American, BBC Online, BBC Radio 5 Live, The Sun, Metro, Tyne Tees TV, regional BBC and independent radio, The Journal, The Northern Echo, Nursing Times.
A proactive media relations campaign to promote the wealth of research expertise at Durham University in relation to the General Election resulted in more than 100 items of media coverage regionally, nationally and internationally.
The University's media relations team (Communications Office) pulled together a series of experts in politics, health, education, economics, public speaking, criminal justice and more, pitching them to a wide range of journalists covering the election. A number of students also took part in media interviews on election issues.
University staff who carried out media interviews included: Anthony Forster (senior management); Gidon Cohen, Christian Schweiger (Politics); Lawrence Black (History); David Hunter/John McLachlan (Health); Tim Clark, Tony Cleaver, Martin Laffin (Business School); Peter Tymms, Robert Coe, Julian Elliott (Education/CEM Centre); James Sweeney (Law).
Coverage includes: BBC National News, SBS Australian TV, Al Jazeera TV, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Politics Show, Voice of America Radio, Reuters, Gulf Times, New York Times, regional BBC and independent TV and radio, UK and North East regional newspapers.
A team of world-leading experts from Durham University has answered a wide range of questions from journalists from around the globe, in response to the disruption caused by the Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajökull.
The University's media relations team helped co-ordinate rapid response media releases, a question and answer guide on volcanoes and volcanic ash and interviews with the help of academic staff.
Experts who took part in media interviews included Jon Davidson, Gillian Foulger, Claire Horwell, Dougal Jerram and Colin Macpherson from the Department of Earth Sciences at Durham University.
Coverage includes: BBC One Show, BBC Online, Sky News, France 24, Voice of America Radio, Sydney Morning Herald, New York Times, Daily Telegraph, The Independent, regional BBC and independent TV and radio, UK and North East regional newspapers.
Statutory testing at the age of 11 is doing more harm than good to teachers and pupils, according to leading education expert, Professor Peter Tymms, a Director in the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM).
Standard Assessment Tests (SATs), which were due to take place in May were boycotted by two teachers' unions, the National Association of Head Teachers and the National Union of Teachers, who say the tests create unnecessary stress.
Professor Tymms identified the main problem as lying with the creation of league tables and the timing of the tests. He said: "The league tables generate unhealthy pressure on schoolteachers and pupils and this leads to a narrowing of the curriculum.
"The information on performance is generated right at the end of primary school when it is too late for teachers to use the results to help their pupils."
He added that good assessment information is needed to help teachers to help their pupils. This would enable headteachers to run their schools and assure taxpayers that their money is being well spent.
Prof Tymms believes that a two-pronged approach would be better than the current system of SATs.
He said: "First, there should be tests of a sample of pupils to establish standards in various areas, notably maths, English and science, on a yearly basis at key ages. This would establish what children know and can do nationally.
"Secondly, diagnostic assessment in key areas should be available to schools, to provide information that can help teachers to teach and schools to evaluate themselves."
Coverage includes: BBC Online, The Scotsman, BBC Radio, The Journal, Northern Echo, Sunderland Echo.
Durham University: Making headlines
Durham University continues to grab headlines and contribute to some of the world’s biggest news stories of the day. This not only showcases our research excellence and expertise but demonstrates its impact to support the unlocking of funding, REF submissions, student recruitment and partnerships and collaboration.
Durham’s input to stories on Icelandic volcanic ash, Pakistan’s landslides, African drumming, the UK General Election, Falklands Oil Reserves and partial blindness, are just some of the highlights from our academic community which have achieved widespread national and international coverage in recent weeks in outlets including Discovery Channel, Reuteurs, BBC TV and Radio, Sunday Times, SBS Australia, Al Jazeera TV, Mainichi Newspaper (Japan) and loads of other international, national and regional outlets – in print, broadcast and online.