Computer Games for Vision Therapy
My wife is an optometrist who specialises in Binocular Vision at Tompkins Knight and Son Optometrists in Northampton, UK. She was treating a young boy who was having problems with suppression. Basically when his brain tried to merge the images from each of his eyes it was failing dismally. Instead of giving up and leaving him with two images that didn’t match up, which would lead to double vision, his brain had turned off one of his eyes and effectively left him with only one working eye. Both eyes were healthy and if he closed either eye he could see normally through the other. But when he tried to use both eyes together his brain was suppressing part of his vision.
The standard therapy my wife uses for this involves two light sources, one red and one green. The patient wears a pair of glasses, one eye with a red filter in front of it, and the other with a green filter. When looking through the red filter only the red light is visible. When looking through the green filter only the green light is visible. If you are using both eyes equally through the filters you should be able to see both lights. If your brain is suppressing one of your eyes you will only be able to see one of the lights. In its simplest form the exercise involves flashing the light in front of the suppressed eye to encourage the brain to process the images from both eyes so that you can gradually train it not to suppress that part of your vision.
Whilst the exercise works really well in the initial stages it is not the most exciting of tasks. Vision therapy is all about repetition and practice so my wife was looking for way to make the activity more engaging to keep the child’s interest, and also gradually more difficult as they improved.
And that’s when she had an idea.
She knew that I was developing programming courses to teach games programming. So she wondered whether these games could be adapted to produce more exciting binocular vision exercises to help her patients combat their suppression.
And that’s when this project was born.