Dr Jason Turuwhenua is one of a team of researchers who have been working on perfecting a new computer camera device that detects whether children as young as 2 years of age have normal eye tracking motion or are experiencing poor visual acuity.
Dr Turuwhenua explained that where young children are unable to verbally respond to the normal ‘read the letters on the chart’ test, the device establishes whether a child has vision problems by looking directly at their eyes with the device. Professor Ben Thompson from SOVS, who is also part of the research team and currently working at the University of Waterloo in Canada , says the condition of amblyopia (otherwise known as lazy eye) which affects approximately one in 25 children can be detected using this device.
A prototype has been created for trials which will take place in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the US. There are plans for the device to be utilised in both a community and healthcare setting with the final product being available in around two years.
This project was awarded funding of nearly a million dollars by the Ministry of Innovation and Employment in 2015 and has since achieved gold status due to its substantial impact on improving the future for young children with potentially debilitating eye vision problems, and because it is a major innovation for New Zealand industry.
Read the full story in the NZ Herald here.