By Adrian Galbreth
A new invention being developed by experts in the US could help to make children's eye exams inexpensive, comprehensive, and simple to administer, it has been claimed.
Although 85 per cent of children's learning is related to vision, four-fifths of children have never had an eye exam or any vision screening before pre-school, while traditional vision screening only detects one or two conditions.
However, three researchers at the University of Tennessee Space Institute in Tullahoma are working to change that with an invention that could alter the way that young people's vision problems are detected.
Known as the Dynamic Ocular Evaluation System (DOES), the test is conducted as the child watches a three-minute cartoon or plays a computer game, with infrared light used to analyse their binocular condition.
The result is delivered on-site within a minute and neither eye dilation nor verbal response is required, explained Ying-Ling Ann Chen, device inventor and research assistant professor in physics at the university.
She explained that vision screening is important at an early age to detect several different causes of vision disorders, but the few children that do get screened today are not being adequately assessed.
"For instance, many current screening methods do one eye at a time and studies show young eyes will accommodate significantly, and this causes inaccurate results, she noted.
Through easy-to-administer comprehensive tests as part of a doctor's appointment, many vision and vision-related diseases could be avoided or treated more effectively, Professor Chan stated.
She added that during the critical period of childhood, up until about age six, if one eye is not as good as the other, the brain will suppress the communication with that eye, and the vision could be lost permanently.
"This can cause a condition called amblyopia, or lazy eye, which can be prevented through detection," the expert concluded.
by Adrian Galbreth