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The vision test kids want to take

Newcastle University has designed a tablet-based and self-adapting stereovision test

Child using tablet

Children’s avid responses to a new stereovision test must be a sight for sore eyes.

Newcastle University research associate, Dr Kathleen Vancleef, is part of the team behind the tablet-based Asteroid stereovision test, which is set for release next year.

Other stereovision tests – especially those with clunky glasses – can see children disengage, but the game-like Asteroid test prompts a different response, she told OT.

“I ask children to have a go. Some of them go on for half an hour. I can’t stop them,” she explained.

The test-within-a-game asks the child to help a character, Mr Square, prepare for his birthday party. Singling out the 3D boxes and completing other tasks awards coins to a test-taker.

Asteroid also requires no glasses. Instead, the system – aimed at kids aged two to three onwards – can track where the child’s eyes are and adjust the 3D content accordingly.

Dr Vancleef explained: “The idea is that children don’t really realise you are testing them … It’s more fun and engaging than the other tests that are out there now.”

The system is also designed to adjust itself based on the results the child achieves, Dr Vancleef said, adding: “If the child finds it difficult, we make it a little bit harder, so it feels like it’s challenging, but not that they can’t do it, or that they are doing worse than their sibling.”

Asteroid also allows a much more precise measure of stereovision, giving practitioners a clearer signal if a child’s vision is improving or deteriorating, she said. “We’re aiming for better monitoring [that] might not be seen with the other tests,” she highlighted.

The university team is currently collecting data on normal results for different age groups. The systems are also being trialled with optometrists in practice to gain their feedback.

“By the end of 2017 … we expect they’ll be available to buy,” Dr Vancleef concluded.