My capstone project at the University of Washington Bothell. I had the opportunity to work with the EYE Center (Educating Young Eyes) on research into novel computer use for diagnosing and treating near vision issues
The student research team was led by Bill Erdly of the University of Washington, with assistance from Dr. Alan Pearson of Vision Clinics of Development and Learning.
The EYE Center
The overarching purpose of the research was to determine what new roles technology could play in helping diagnose and correct children's near vision issues.
According to Dr. Pearson and many of his colleagues, untreated near vision issues often have a massive negative effect on a child's ability to learn. This is especially true if they are already dealing with learning disabilities like Dyslexia.
If you're interested, you can find more information on the topic on the Research page of Well Child Vision
Research at the time estimated that, out of one million students, 25% have vision issues. The (at the time) standard distance and near acuity screening given to those kids is able to detect myopia (nearsightedness) and amblyopia (lazy eye). However, it is unable to detect the 130,000 who would have hyperopia (farsightedness), 30,000 with strabismus (eye turn), or th 50,000 with convergence insufficiency (inability to focus both eyes on the same point).
Clearly then, there was a gap in standard vision screening that needed to be addressed. A gap that we suspected could be filled much more efficiently and thoroughly with the assistance of digital technology.
My role in the project was as a Software Developer. By the time I joined, the group already had several ideas for video games that they hoped students could play both as part of the vision screening process and as a regular activity for vision therapy. Some of the ideas already had rudimentary prototypes, however, these prototypes needed a good deal more work to be usable for study.
In addition to refining the prototype games, I also assisted in the creation of support tooling, such as a "library" application that would manage installed trial applications and aid volunteers and patients in accessing them.
Games for Research
One of the most prominent concerns with realizing the game prototypes into usable tools was ensuring that the they could be rapidly tweaked and modified to keep pace with the needs of the researchers that would be using them for study.
⚠ This article is still a work in progress.