Bill Harvey: Playing with fire
Author: Bill Harvey
Does anyone remember the CAM stimulator for treating amblyopia?
The technique was developed in the early 80s and comprised of a turntable onto which could be fixed a series of discs bearing patterns of spatial frequency gratings or transparent Perspex plates with coloured patterns. The idea was for amblyopes of all ages to view the targets with their amblyopic eye for set periods. It was used by many centres (including at the LRH as was), and there were reports of improved vision, most remarkably in some adult amblyopes.
I have recently noticed a rising trend in the use of games on tablet displays for treating amblyopia. Some of these use dichroic displays (splitting the signal to each eye), either with specially designed screens, or relying on colour or polarised displays that use visors to split the signals to each eye of the viewer. I love the fact these can accurately control the input, while also are of a design that should overcome the usual problems of compliance in getting young children to undertake treatment.
That said, there seems to be a creeping tendency to market such products directly to parents. One example of such has the following statement on the website, ‘Although one does have to go to eye care specialists for full eye examination to be certain of the improvements…’ This reads to me a little bit like a legal adviser has suggested they had better mention the ECP as an afterthought, though this is against the thrust of their marketing plan. Technology should be embraced but we need to be the ones first embracing it.
But with care. A paper just out in Nature, from Anglia Ruskin, has shown that: ‘The increasing use of smartphones to capture images of the eye for use in telemedicine… comes with a risk of misdiagnosis because of the varying settings of different cameras.’