Virtual Reality Headsets: Toys? Or Future Medical Tools

A young person utilizing a vr headset.

Probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of virtual reality headsets is their function in the entertainment industry. Virtual reality is the new frontier of the entertainment world, but could there be more to the technology than meets the eye?

Amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” occurs when one of your eyes vision is so weak that your brain fails to recognize the eye is even there. This ends up messing with your depth perception quite a bit. There is a belief that if you fail to correct this issue before the age of 8, then it will be irreversible. Now thanks to virtual reality, this belief has been challenge.

James Blaha suffered from lazy eye for the majority of his life and because of this, he had lost the ability to judge distance. Conventional treatment methods such as: glasses with different color lens, and forcing the lazy eye to see by covering up the strong eye failed to work. Despite these failed attempts at treatment James did not give up hope for corrected vision.

After some research into the field of optometry, James came up with an idea. Using the virtual reality Oculus rift developers kit James began experimenting with a 3D cube. He adjusted the brightness settings of the Oculus by raising the brightness of the screen facing his lazy high and lowering the brightness of the screen facing his strong eye. What he discovered was that this forced his brain to use that weak eye more and made the cube appear in 3D.

James continued to experiment with this idea, and after three weeks of doing this he noticed an improvement in his vision. Today, James claims to have 90% of his depth perception restored to his lazy eye, and is looking to bring this approach to treatment to many others.

So, will we be seeing Oculus VR headsets being used to treat amblyopia around the globe? It remains to be seen if this method will work for everyone who suffers from amblyopia, but the initial testing done by James, looks promising.

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