Dr Stephanie Campbell and Dr Luke Anderson
Two Welsh eye specialists have developed a new iPad game which could revolutionise how we conduct eye tests on children.
Dr Stephanie Campbell and Dr Luke Anderson have launched Vision Game Labs, with support from CEMET (Centre of Excellence in Mobile and Emerging Technologies), based at the University of South Wales (USW).
The company is developing technology which will allow parents to monitor their children’s vision from home, helping to avoid what can be long visits to hospital.
Cardiff University graduate Stephanie, who has a PhD in vision science and is an NHS optometrist, and Luke, a consultant eye surgeon at Cwm Taf University Health Board, came up with the idea for the app when analysing children’s sight.
Through testing children’s vision, she realised the difficulties in diagnosing children because of their short attention span, and watching how long that children could play on computer games, she knew there must’ve been a better way to go about conducting eye tests.
“Through testing children’s vision, I realised just how difficult it was to reach a diagnosis because of their short attention span,” Stephanie said.
“Watching how long that children could play on computer games, I turned to technology to help.”
After the game is completed, parents will be able to track their child’s vision to provide an early alert to a decline.
The results will also be made available to a specialist to decide whether a further hospital appointment is needed. This can be done remotely if necessary.
Stephanie is also interested in how this app could be used as a vision science research platform, to transform the collection of data from tens of subjects in the lab, to thousands of subjects being tested in their own homes.
“It’s a particularly exciting development for us as eye specialists, because we can also use the app to collect vital information that can further improve the results – meaning that we won’t just have data from maybe 20 or 30 people, but up to thousands of subjects who are tested in their own homes,” she added.
As for Luke, the development of the app is just the latest piece of research he has carried out having previously worked with USW’s Centre of Excellence in Mobile Applications and Services (CEMAS) to design an app to teach trainee eye professionals how to identify sight-threatening diseases.
“The serious game Space Vision has the capability to revolutionise how vision is measured,” Luke added.
“It should also be able to contribute huge efficiencies to the health service by allowing patients to be monitored at home; and to pick up eye problems earlier in life, enabling a healthier population of young children in Wales.”
Mark Griffiths, co-director of CEMET, said: “The technology that Stephanie and Luke are developing is exactly what CEMET is here to support.
“Small business often have great ideas, but they don’t have the expertise in emerging technologies needed to turn that inspiration into reality, and that’s what we provide here.
“CEMET is based at USW, and has £4.2m of backing from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Welsh Government.
“Its purpose is to provide R&D support to SMEs in the Valleys, West and North Wales, and we’d love to hear from more business owners who think they could benefit from our help.”
See how the game works here: