SOVS is delighted to have the support of Rotary which has given $10,000 in recent months to support an innovative treatment for amblyopia (“lazy eye”) being developed in SOVS. Amblyopia is a disorder of vision – affecting one in 30 children in New Zealand – caused by an imbalance (such as a misalignment) between the eyes. This prevents normal development of the visual brain. Treatment consists of forcing the “lazy” eye to “work harder”, by covering the better-seeing eye with a patch. Although patching typically improves vision, the social stigma of wearing a patch means that less than half of children prescribed them, actually wear them. As a consequence, tens of thousands of children in NZ live with poor vision in one eye for the rest of their lives.
Members of Steven Dakin’s lab have developed a home-based therapy for amblyopia, which is effective and enjoyable. Children view movies for 1 hour a day on a Nintendo 3DS handheld game (which supports 3D-movies without the need to wear secial glasses). The system modifies what each eye sees: the lazy eye sees a sharp image; the better-seeing eye is “penalised” by viewing a blurred image. Results (using older 3D displays; Bossi, et al, 2017) are encouraging with children achieving good gains in acuity after a couple of months, and with compliance exceeding 90%.
The Rotary Newmarket Charitable Foundation and the June Gray Charitable Trust (overseen by Rotarians) have each donated $5,000 to assist with purchasing consoles so that more children with amblyopia can benefit from this technology. Thank you to Rotary for its philanthropic support; it is greatly appreciated and will make a material difference to the vision of NZ children.
If you are interested in supporting research in SOVS, please contact Mary Jane Boland, Associate Director Development, for the University. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 09 923 7275.