Virtual Reality and Vision
If it’s not on every kid’s Christmas list this year, it will be soon enough. Virtual Reality (VR) is the next big thing in gaming and, with Google having released the Daydream View phone recently, VR will really start to change how people get their entertainment.
While Virtual Reality headsets have seen some slow and expensive development over the years (Oculus Rift), Google is really changing the landscape by offering Virtual Reality viewers made out of cardboard for mobile phones that when paired with a VR app can offer the viewer a 360-degree, 3D interactive experience.
How it Works
VR works by presenting a slightly different image to each eye, so that when the brain puts both images together, it creates a 3D effect. The apps in the phone then additionally track your head movements to put you in a simulated environment.
The most common side effects so far with VR are nausea and disorientation which can be even worse if the experience is poorly rendered. Looking at any object for too long of a time can create eye strain. Doctors also worry about the development of myopia in youth which many of these games are targeting. As a matter of fact, some people feel that children shouldn’t use the VR technology at all, since we aren’t sure of what the negative effects might be.
Something else that can be a concern with VR technology is the exposure to too much blue light. Too much blue light exposure can interfere with circadian rhythms making restful sleep difficult, and there are concerns that it could be responsible for retinal damage.
Some of the negative effects depend upon the brightness of the VR screen, the contrast of light vs. dark, and both the frequency and duration of play. As with any digital viewing, we recommend the 20/20/20 rule. After 20 minutes of any activity, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds just to break things up and give your eyes a break.
Another negative effect with VR is called past-pointing which happens after use. Your brain becomes used to viewing objects in the virtual world which can be slightly off from reality. After taking the headset off, the gamer can have a difficult time adequately estimating distance (for example try to grab something when it appears closer or further away.) This can really impede hand eye coordination and make moving around a bit dangerous.
Believe it or not, there are some great benefits to this technology. Because each eye needs to work with the other eye, and the brain has to interpret what is being seen, the visual system has a self-correcting property. The eyes and brain learn to work together. This self-correcting property is what is currently being used in some Vision Therapy clinics through Vivid Vision. Vivid Vision has developed some programming specifically designed to help people overcome such visual processing issues such as amblyopia and strabismus.
As VR tech continues to take off and find its way into homes, it will be more and more important to study its effects. Hopefully as it becomes more sophisticated, the negative effects will become less significant and the positive ones will create a viewing experience that can be beneficial for the eyes as well as entertaining.
Meet Vision Therapy Grad: Harrison
Dr. Steve Sandman referred seven-year-old Harrison to the Center for Vision Development after his mother had noticed how much he was struggling in school. Harrison had also been experiencing motion sickness in the car and had problems maintaining balance and riding his bike. Dr. Sandman thought that he would be a good candidate for Vision Therapy.
“He was actually on the verge of getting a referral for OT/Special Education/Title I help,” says Shannon, Harrison’s mother. “Since starting Vision Therapy, he has improved greatly. He has moved up in reading groups. His report card and testing scores have dramatically improved to an above average student.”
Shannon credits a lot of Harrison’s success to his hard work and the patience of Rose, his Vision Therapist. For more information on Vision Therapy and how it can help your child, click here.
Meet Vision Therapy Grad: Emma
Emma found herself struggling in both school and play. She would have difficulty maintaining her balance and riding her bike. She also would become very frustrated with reading and math in school. She says, “I did not write my spaces correctly and I got headaches when I would read, write or do school. I couldn’t see things right.”
Emma’s mom talks about how her daughter would become frustrated in school, “She often told me that her eyes were ‘playing tricks on her’.” Emma’s optometrist recommended Vision Therapy, and Emma quickly saw success.
A recent graduate of the program, Emma is excited to be hitting the trails this spring, “Now I love to read and ride my bike. I put in spaces, and I don’t get headaches anymore. Thank you Erin. Thank you Dr. Smith.”
Find out more about our Center for Vision Development and the Vision Therapy program.
Meet Vision Therapy Grad: Bryce
Bryce’s mother Mindi is an EyeCare Specialties team member, so she already knew how beneficial Vision Therapy could be for people with vision disorders. When her 11 year old daughter Bryce started to experience problems in school, she decided to have her daughter’s vision tested to see if there was an underlying vision problem.
After just six months of working with her vision therapist Tess, Mindi is so proud of Bryce’s graduation from the program, “I have seen great improvement in her grades at school. Her memory and comprehension are so much better. She doesn’t get frustrated and she’s not so clumsy. I can’t thank Tess enough for everything she’s done for Bryce and leading her in the right direction.”
Find out more information on our Vision Therapy program.
Infants and Eye Exams
Monitoring your child’s eye health is important because there are several conditions that, when discovered early, can be treated to make sure your child enjoys their best vision for the rest of their life. It is even important for expectant moms to receive proper prenatal care and nutrition in order for the child’s eyes to develop optimally.
Babies begin to see shortly after birth, with the first images usually mom’s face while nursing. Babies tend to be interested in high contrast stimuli and motion so it’s important to include items with bright colors and complex shapes in the nursery. Having a nightlight will also help provide visual stimulation when the baby is awake in bed.
Younger infants up to two months of age may not have eyes that track together and this is completely normal. The eyes are still learning how to work together. Helping stimulate both sides of your child’s body and allowing him some supervised tummy time will help stimulate visual development. Also make sure to talk to your baby while you move about the room. He will want to follow the sound and tracking you with his eyes is great exercise.
At six months of age, we recommend your child’s first visit to his optometrist. Babies do not have to know letters or shapes in order for your eye doctor to test visual acuity. Your doctor is able to test your baby for extreme near/far sightedness and will be able to see how well your baby’s eye are able to track together. Overall eye health can be checked as well.
If all is well at your child’s first exam, your eye doctor will recommend a next exam at three years of age. There are several conditions such as amblyopia that can be treated more successfully the earlier they are discovered.
The optometrists at EyeCare Specialties are providers of InfantSEE, a public health program that ensures no-cost visual screenings for babies six months of age. If a problem is discovered at the screening, our doctors would recommend a complete exam.
For more information on this program: infantsee.org.
Meet the Vision Therapy Grad: Jordyn
Jordyn started Vision Therapy treatment after struggling in school. Once she began coming to therapy and working with her Vision Therapist Erin, Jordyn’s grades began improving and she began to actually enjoy reading.
Jordyn and her mother really noticed a difference at an Easter Egg Hunt this past spring. At first, Jordyn didn’t want to participate because she was used to having a difficult time finding eggs. But because of all of the hard work she had been doing on her visual skills during Vision Therapy, she decided to give it a try. She was amazed at being able to find so many eggs and really felt a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Her mother Tara appreciates Jordyn’s new self esteem and confidence, “Now she likes to read and is doing so much better at school. Thank you Dr. Smith and Erin.”
Find out more about our Vision Therapy Program.
What is Myopia?
Myopia is nearsightedness or difficulty seeing objects in the distance. It can also cause squinting, eyestrain, headaches and eye fatigue. Myopia currently affects approximately 1/3 of adults currently in the United States. Myopia usually starts in childhood and worsens over time.
The issue lies within the shape of the eyeball in relation to the curvature of the cornea and the lens of the eye.
What causes Myopia?
No one is entirely sure. Studies show that heredity does play a part in whether or not someone develops myopia. If both parents wear glasses, there is a higher likelihood that their child will also need them. There are also some studies that suggest that reading may play a role in myopia development.
Our goal at ECS is to treat the myopic condition and to slow its progression.
There are several treatment options for myopia. Traditional glasses and contact lenses offer clear vision but do not slow the myopia. LASIK surgery can work for adults but is not recommended for children. Pharmaceutical intervention through medical eye drops can help control the progression of myopia for a while, but have negative side effects. Orthokeratology is the wearing of specially designed gas permeable contact lenses that reshape your cornea while you sleep. This can help slow the progression of myopia, but does not offer a permanent solution.
In recent research, the use of contact lenses, in which a patient’s prescription is in the middle of the contact lens surrounded by plus power, has shown to reduce myopia progression by 40-50%. It is suggested that when using these contact lenses to slow the progression of myopia that the patient utilize this modality until their early twenties.The center optics of the contact lens will correct for the myopia and deliver focused light rays on to the macula at the back of the eye. The peripheral retina is what studies have shown to be the driving force for the elongation of the eye leading to an increase in myopia. With distance only correction, the macula will have a focused image delivered to it, but the rays being delivered to the peripheral retina will not be focused on the retina, rather behind it. By placing the plus power around the myopia prescription, the light rays in the peripheral retina are focused on or in front of the retina helping to reduce the tendency for the elongation of the eye.