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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 or phone 09 923 7275.