Video Game Vision Test

December 27, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
One in four kids in the United States has some kind of vision problem, and undetected vision problems can make it tough for kids to learn. They can even lead to blindness -- yet millions of children don't get an annual vision screening. A new cost-effective and fun solution may make screenings easier. It's a video game designed to check kids' eyes. Eight-year-old Sasha just thinks it's fun.

"It asks you questions, and you're supposed to answer them, and if there's a letter on the top, you have to match the letter on the bottom," Sasha told Ivanhoe. With every match, the adventure continues.

"By measuring response time in the right eye versus the left eye, it gives us information as to whether one eye is underperforming or not," James W. O'Neil, M.D., a pediatric ophthalmologist with Arizona Pediatric Eye Specialists in Phoenix, Ariz., told Ivanhoe.

Dr. O'Neil says many kids with vision problems can still pass a conventional eye test. He believes this game can make vision screenings more effective.

"We want to make them more reliable," Dr. O'Neil said. "We want to make them easier to administer. We want to reach more children."

The test screens for everything from visual acuity and basic vision problems to lazy eye, retinal disorders and even cataracts. Because it's automated, researchers believe this new test is more accurate and cost-effective than standard vision tests.

In a pilot project screening 600 kids at her elementary school, school nurse Lucy Samuels has seen some real success stories.

"The one that I was most impressed about, he looked up in the sky and he said, 'There's an airplane, and I have never seen an airplane!'" Samuels told Ivanhoe. "It was so exciting when he got his glasses on."

Doctors believe the computer game test would cost about $5 per child. Professional eye exams can cost up to $75 per child. A non-profit organization called VisionQuest 20/20 hopes to distribute the eye screening game to schools nationwide.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Elizabeth Reich, Chief Executive Officer
VisionQuest 20/20
Mesa, AZ
(602) 903-4460
ereich@visionquest2020.org
www.visionquest2020.org

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