Can you improve people’s eye sight by using virtual reality?
Amblyopia is a disorder of sight where the brain uses mostly the information coming from one eye over the other (subsequently called the “lazy eye”) giving a flatter impression of the world. If you have ever seen a child with an eyepatch outside of a birthday party, then it was most likely a treatment to reverse amblyopia. As we age however, the plasticity of our brain decreases, leaving less chances for correction. It is estimated that amblyopia affects between 1 and 5% of the population.
Depth perception relies mostly on our brain mixing two images seen from two points separated from a certain distance (the distance between our eyes). We call it binocular vision (or stereoscopic depth perception) and this physiological mechanism is what tricks our perception in seeing depth when we watch a “3D movie”.
In a virtual reality headset, each eye is seeing a separate image coming from a separate monitor. Can we use this design characteristic to improve depth perception for people suffering amblyopia?
Our VR application, Pirate Eye, does just that, by changing the light intensity in an asymmetrical fashion (more light on the lazy eye and less light on the dominant eye). This results in a different image mix in our brain and an improved stereoscopic depth perception, (the same way we can manipulate our stereo sound impression by changing the balance on a music amplifier).
Pirate Eye is also a depth perception test based on a puzzle game using a visual illusion that can only be solved using binocular vision: Two hot air balloons are placed in front of you, one positioned closer than the other. The balloons are scaled in such a way that they appear identical when viewed through only one eye.
Can you find which one is bigger?
Pirate Eye is a Wolf in Motion R&D project and is not supported by clinical research
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