I started wearing glasses when I was 5 years old. Sticking my fingers into my eyeballs and putting in my contacts is the first thing I do every morning. Although poor vision is a daily hassle in my life, at least it’s something that is just irritating to me – people can’t tell I am legally blind just by looking at my eyes.
However, people who suffer from amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, do not have the luxury of keeping their ocular conditions private. A lazy eye is the first thing that people notice when they connect with someone affected by amblyopia.
Not only is amblyopia obvious to others (and can come with social stigma – kids on the playground can be cruel), but it also means reduced vision. Caused by abnormal visual development from birth up to age 7 years, the affected eye (it rarely affects both eyes) often wanders outward or inward.
Traditionally, lazy eye is treated with glasses, contact lenses, surgery, or eye patches – and if the condition is not treated early enough in life, adults just had to live with lazy eye for the rest of their life.
Then James Blaha found virtual reality.
An entrepreneur and programmer, Blaha was diagnosed with amlyopia and strabismus (commonly known as “crossed eyes”) at a young age – and like most others, thought there was no hope for treatment after the age of 9 years old. Inspired by a TED talk by neuroscientist Susan Barry describing her journey to correct her lazy eye as an adult, Blaha got to work.
Now CEO and founder of Vivid Vision, Blaha started designing software for lazy eye using VR headsets like the Oculus Rift. While working on an early developer version of the Rift, Blaha suddenly saw in 3D for the first time. He had discovered depth perception.
Founding Vivid Vision to bring this revolutionary treatment to clinics in October 2015, Blaha says that “virtual reality is the perfect platform for eye care. It gives us an incredible tool for vision testing and treatment where we can very accurately control the image being rendered to each eye.”
Now, you do not have to travel to a nearby eye clinic that hosts this virtual reality treatment – now you can bring the treatment home with you. If you or a loved one suffer from binocular vision issues like amblyopia, strabismus, or convergence insufficiency, now you are able to get Vivid Vision Home prescribed to you at more than 50 eye clinics nationwide.
Vivid Vision Home will support headsets such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Android-based devices like the Gear VR, and the software will be released to additional clinics in early 2017.