A high-tech test has been developed by scientists at Cambridge University, with the potential to save the eyesight and the lives of young children.
Dr Louise Allen, a paediatric ophthalmologist at the university, has teamed up with Dr Adar Pelah, an electronics engineer from York University, to create the test.
It measures what children can see in their peripheral vision when looking straight ahead, which up until now has been difficult to decipher.
A loss of peripheral vision in children can be caused by a number of eye disorders including retinal dystrophy and a range of other conditions such as brain tumours.
Current children"s eye testing techniques require the subject to remain still and maintain a steady gaze at a light target for as long as ten minutes.
This process has proved very difficult for children to perform, particularly toddlers, making poor peripheral vision and the causes of it difficult to detect.
With the new test, called KidzEyez, the child watches a cartoon on a video screen, while their response to a target appearing in different locations of the visual periphery is monitored remotely using a small camera.
Dr Allen said: "Children find the testing fun and, by improving our detection and management of visual pathway tumours, KidzEyez could play a major role in preserving sight and improving our support of children with visual impairment."
A spokesman from Cambridge University said a trial of the new system had been completed on 74 children aged between three and ten at Addenbrooke"s Hospital, with considerable success.
Parents were recently urged to keep a close watch on their children"s vision if they are to safeguard their long-term sight, by optometric physician Edwin Ambo.
He told the Issaquah Press that vision is a "huge part" of a person"s quality of life in general and therefore it is important to take extra care over maintaining eyesight.
by Adrian Galbreth