Virtual reality to help correct lazy eye – Healthcare News

By Sudhir Chowdhary

What if children with lazy eye, or amblyopia, could improve their vision while playing interactive games? A new treatment developed by the Jaipur-based healthcare startup, Cognihab, may offer a fun alternative to traditional therapies for a common form of childhood vision loss. The company has created an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven, virtual reality (VR)-based dichoptic visual training system exclusively designed to treat amblyopia. The vision therapy suite has been tested and verified at renowned institutes like AIIMS, Guru Nanak Eye Centre, and Shroff Eye Centre in New Delhi.

Cognihab claims to have treated hundreds of patients and plans to expand its VR-based therapy into more clinical settings. “Our solution uses VR’s qualities to develop interactive games that patients can play using a VR headset,” said Ishaan Singh, the co-founder of Cognihab. The VR headset costs `5,500, while the patient charges at the eye centres vary from `10,000 to `12,000 per annum. The recommended duration of treatment is 12 weeks, with daily sessions of 30 minutes.

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“These games are intended to stimulate both eyes, improve coordination, and strengthen the weaker eye. The utility of this technology stems from its non-invasive and engaging approach to treatment, which eliminates the discomfort and social stigma associated with traditional methods such as eye patching and provides a dynamic and adaptable therapy that adjusts to each patient’s need in real-time. This provides greater compliance and better outcomes for patients of all ages,” Singh added.

Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, is a childhood vision disorder characterised by impaired coordination between the brain and the eye, resulting in decreased vision in one eye. It is not caused by any structural abnormalities in the eye but rather by a lack of effective coordination between the eye and brain during the crucial period of visual development in early childhood.

“Our technology provides a big step forward in treating amblyopia by shifting the therapeutic experience from forced and often uncomfortable to enjoyable and adaptive,” said Singh. He stressed that traditional techniques, such as eye patching and blackened lens spectacles, are painful and socially stigmatising and ineffective after the age of nine. “The VR-based dichoptic training keeps both eyes open, preserving 3D vision while actively engaging the weaker eye with specially designed activities. These games adapt in real-time to the patient’s performance, making treatment successful even for elderly individuals”, he added. 

Cognihab has undertaken extensive research in collaboration with renowned experts in the field to develop VR-based gaming modules for the treatment of amblyopia. It has designed and created seven amblyopia treatment VR games, developed under the supervision of Pradeep Sharma, ex-professor and head of strabismus, pediatric ophthalmology and neuro-ophthalmology, at the Rajendra Prasad Centre, AIIMS, New Delhi.

Smita Kapoor Grover, a paediatric and neuro-ophthalmologist, stated, “I have suggested Cognihab’s VR-based treatment for amblyopia in youngsters. This novel technique stimulates both eyes simultaneously, with less contrast in the stronger eye, to balance vision between the two.”

According to Singh, the vision therapy suite is currently used in various hospitals and eye care clinics throughout India. “The VR-based therapy has got recommendations from leading Indian ophthalmologists, who see it as a medical breakthrough that provides a simpler and more effective alternative to conventional treatments. The device’s price and compatibility with Android phones has made it accessible to many patients,” he added.

Going forward, Cognihab plans to expand the platform’s capabilities by including more powerful AI algorithms to personalise better and optimise treatment for each patient. 


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