Specialized Glasses May Treat Lazy Eye, Early Study Shows
Mon, 11/16/2015 – 9:56am
Ryan Bushey, Associate Editor
Boy wearing Amblyz. Source: PR NewswireA company called Xpand is offering programmable glasses that can treat children with amblyopia, which is also known as lazy.
The glasses, named Amblyz, have programmable LCDs, which a physician can program to darken every 30 seconds during a certain period of time throughout the day.
Researchers from the Glick Eye Institute at Indiana University conducted an early clinical trial demonstrating these glasses can improve vision just as well as the traditional alternative, according to an announcementfrom this year’s annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
The scientists tested the glasses and the patch in a group of 33 children with lazy eye between the ages of 3 and 8. One group had to wear the adhesive patch over the course of two hours per day whereas the remainder of the participants wore the glasses for 4 hours.
Results from a three-month observation showed each group of kids displayed the same amount of improvement in their lazy eye. The kids were able to read two more lines on a reading chart.
Amblyz glasses might be a better cosmetic choice for children dealing with this condition, since the patches can induce stress or alienation. The initial price tag of the device is $450.
Matthew Schneps is a researcher at Harvard University with a doctorate in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He also happens to have dyslexia, so reading has always been a challenge for him. That is, until he got a smartphone. Schneps soon found that for him, a smartphone was easier to read than a paper or a book. But, was it just him? Or, had he stumbled onto something that could help others with dyslexia?
Schneps was at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysicsat the time, specializing in how people learn science. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), he decided to put his smartphone theory to the test. The faculty and about 100 students at the Landmark School near Boston volunteered to take part. The high school specializes in helping students overcome learning disabilities, such as dyslexia.
Schneps and his team monitored students with dyslexia while the students read to see if reading off smartphones and tablets would improve the students’ comprehension of STEM subjects–science, technology, education and math. He found that reading off an iPod benefitted those dyslexic students who exhibit signs of visual attention deficits. What helped was to show only two or three words on a line. Schneps says that in this age of electronic publishing, his research lends new hope to one out of every five people who currently struggles with reading. For many, simply reconfiguring the layout of the text on an electronic reader may make all the difference.
“NSF’s investment in this educational research project reflects our commitment to advancing the learning and participation of students with disabilities in the STEM fields,” says Mark Leddy, a program director, who manages NSF research on disabilities and STEM education within the agency’s Directorate for Education and Human Resources.
Schneps is now the director of the Laboratory for Visual Learning, a collaboration between the University of Massachusetts Boston and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The results of his research are available on the web at http://readeasy.labvislearn.org, as well as in two papers in the open access journal PLOS One: E-Readers Are More Effective than Paper for Some with Dyslexiaand Shorter Lines Facilitate Reading in Those Who Struggle