Video games are bad for your eyes. Well, at the very least, that's what we parents use as one of our arguing points for getting our kids to stop playing so much. This one, though, might very well be able to help save a young person's vision. Called EyeSpy 20/20, it was created by the non-profit VisionQuest 20/20 as a way to easily, quickly and accurately check school children's vision, see if they're color-blind or even suffer from amblyopia aka "a lazy eye" which, left untreated, could lead to permanent damage.
"The child just uses a standard computer mouse to make their choices and click and what is quite fun for me is seeing that very few children actually need instruction," says Richard Tirendi from VisionQuest 20/20.
Plus, unlike the old chart, this one can't be memorized, the tasks are all randomized. It also isn't subject to human tester subjectivity. The software makes the assessments on its own, even factoring in response times in case a student is squinting to compensate, and it can be loaded up on pretty much any PC, which many schools already have.
Another advantage to a system like this, a national database could potentially be created so that if, for example, in one spot in the country a large number of children are having the same vision disorder researchers could then dig down and figure out exactly why that is.
"There's no personally identifiable information available at the aggregate level but what is available is an understanding of vision disorders and the prevalence of vision disorders as a function of age, ethnicity, gender, geographic location, the implications are massive," says Tirendi.
So far, the system has been used mainly in Arizona, though it's making inroads in several other states as well. Developers say the cost of getting it into a school is about the same as, on one day, buying one school lunch for every child in the school.