Research staff of Valencia’s Polytechnic University (UPV) belonging to the Gandia campus, and FISABIO (Foundation for the Promotion of Health and Biomedical Research in the Valencian Community) have developed an innovative system to diagnose alterations to stereoscopic vision. The system, patented by both institutions, is especially useful for children, as an early diagnosis is crucial for the success of the possible treatment. To date, it has been tested on 40 patients.
Stereopsis is what allows us to see an item in three dimensions, and therefore, allows us to estimate the size of the item and how far away it is. According to doctor Carmela Porcar, ophthalmologist at the Hospital Virgen de los Lirios of Alcoy and researcher of the project, this ability starts developing at birth, and is established at seven years of age; therefore, the optimal treatment has to be before said age. Because of this, a key objective of the project was to allow an early diagnosis of alterations to stereopsis.
In this sense, the software has been developed with shapes and figures that are appealing to small children, as well as being an intuitive application, and therefore, easy to use, explains Fernando Boronat, researcher from the Gandia campus of the UPV and head of the UPV team that has taken part in the project.
When there is a sudden loss of vision, or when there is strabismus or a lazy eye, alterations of stereopsis can appear, a doctor Ezequiel Campos explains, head of the Ophthalmology Department of the Hospital Virgen de los Lirios and head of the FISABIO team that took part in the project.
Around 5% of the world’s population has problems to merge images, generally derived from amblyopia (commonly known as lazy eye) or strabismus. Therefore, an early diagnosis is key to be able to reverse these causes and rehabilitate the eye in advance.
The designed platform offers a system to measure the perception of depth of vision of patients thanks to artificial vision techniques. It is composed of 3D glasses and a monitor, or heightened reality glasses, an artificial vision system that works with a processor, cameras and a device for the patient to rest their chin.
The system has improved accuracy compared to conventional tests (Titmus, TNO, Randot Stereotest and Lang Stereotest) and decreases the number of false positives and negatives, which are very high in these tests, according to the research team. It makes it possible to estimate the perception of depth in millimetres, with an accuracy greater than 400-800 seconds of arc; it avoids the issue of the learning effect that appears with set answers and, by not being based on outlines, it prevents monocular clues (which can be achieved with a single eye), making it more reliable.
The platform also detects the level of stereopsis and makes it possible to monitor the quantitative evolution during the treatment period. The gathering and storage of the patient’s data is conducted automatically.
The system is registered in the Patent Pool of the Valencian Community. In 2020, the UPV and FISABIO team will work on developing a more compact unit that can be installed in practices, as part of the POLISABIO innovation programme Project.