Realizing that popular methods of treating childhood amblyopia (or lazy eye) were uncomfortable and unpleasant for children, Emily Kiehl and Radu Vasilescu created Project Purple, a virtual reality game that trains and strengthens the eye, addressing the condition.
What inspired you (or your team)?
One of our team members was born with amblyopia (also known as lazy eye), which can cause one eye to be left impaired forever if not corrected at an early age. However, without the motivation or realization of risk, many young kids neglect treatment, not wanting to wear an eye patch to train their weaker eye. They view treatment as a struggle and a daily burden. In order to keep this condition from interfering with children’s futures, we decided to use the modern principle of “game-ifying” a task to keep kids entertained while investing in their own futures; that of full sight.
Tell us about the innovation, what materials or toolsets you used, what it does, how it works, why it is important.
Amblyopia is a disorder that causes the brain to favor one eye. It is one of the most common childhood eye conditions and is currently treated by a method called patching, where a patch is used to cover the strong eye. A recent emerging technology in today’s digital media scene is virtual reality, in which headsets with binocular displays and gyroscopic and positional tracking produce an immersive virtual experience. Often used for video games, we had the idea to leverage Oculus Rift virtual reality technology within ophthalmology to simulate patching by dimming the brightness or blocking the strong eye and playing games heavy on perspective and optical depth perception. Using the VR headset, we believe that children can force their brain to start using both eyes evenly and together, as opposed to patching, which trains both eyes to work independently of each other.
- Emily Kiehl, 17
- Radu Vasilescu, 16