The very first research project of the NVRI was conducted by Mr (later Professor) Ian Bailey, who was appointed Senior Research Officer in the NVRI in 1974. His work was funded by a grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council. The project was "the visual performance and optometric management of patients with severe visual handicap due to low vision caused by age-related macular degeneration". Ian Bailey was assisted by his graduate student Miss Jan Lovie.
|Ian Bailey and Jan Lovie Logmar chart|
In the course of this work they developed the now world-famous Bailey-Lovie LogMAR test chart. The principles behind this chart have now been adopted as the gold-standard for visual acuity testing. The advantages over the standard Snellen visual acuity chart were that each line had 5 equi-legible letters so that there was equal sampling at each level of visual acuity, letter and line spacing was proportional to letter size and there was an the orderly progression of letter sizes on a logarithmic scale. Their paper “New design principles for visual acuity letter charts” published in Amer J Optom Physiol Opt 1976; 53: 740-5 is highly cited.
They also developed novel near vision reading test charts that embodied the principles of logarithmic progression and enabled prediction of magnification needed for persons with low vision. [The design and use of a new near-vision chart. Am J Optom Physiol Opt. 1980 Jun;57(6):378-87]. At last there was a systematic approach to prescribing optical aids for the partially sighted. "A Chairside Reference on Low Vision", Technical Report No. 1 was published by NVRI in October 1975 that was widely used by low vision practitioners around the world.
This was a great start by the NVRI to have achieved lasting international recognition in its first few years.