Gaming for better vision

An app is being developed by a UK optometrist and ophthalmologist to monitor vision at home


A UK duo are developing an iPad-based game that can be used to test vision at home. 

Optometrist, Stephanie Campbell, and consultant ophthalmologist, Luke Anderson, have established a prototype of the game with support from the University of South Wales’ Centre of Excellence in Mobile and Emerging Technologies. 

The technology has also received funding from Health Tech Challenge Wales and was given a 2016 NHS Wales award

Dr Campbell told OT  that while it was still early in its development, the technology aims to revolutionise the way that patients can monitor their vision outside of an optometrist appointment or hospital clinic. She added that being able to accurately measure vision at home could bring great benefits to both primary and secondary care. 

“From a hospital perspective, we believe that development of this technology will provide the ability to discharge stable patients much earlier than currently possible.  From a practice perspective, regular use of a vision gaming app will provide the opportunity to keep in touch with patients between appointments in ways that we haven’t been able to before,” she highlighted. 

Mr Anderson emphasised that by the time ‘at-risk’ patients would seek help from optometrists, they had already lost a significant amount of vision. 

“We believe that home monitoring provides the opportunity for early identification of visual change, even asymptomatic visual change, while treatment is still effective,” he elaborated. 

The current prototype was designed to establish how well gaming maintained young children’s attention when optotypes were presented with hide-and-seek aliens. 

In a similar style to a threshold visual field examination, the app could be used to retest aspects of vision repeatedly while children maintained their concentration through an engaging gaming experience. 

Dr Campbell told OT  that she understood just how hard optometrists currently have to work to “squeeze every last letter or picture out” of a child’s patience. 

“We wanted a tool to make this aspect of an eye exam easier for us all,” she elaborated.

“We are very excited, and seeking to meet others in the industry who want to work with us on this venture,” Dr Campbell added.

She highlighted that games with a purpose beyond entertainment were also making headway in other areas of the health sector, including educating paediatric asthma patients, monitoring high blood pressure and in dementia research.