Many people across the world suffer with visual or vision impairment.Being visually impaired means that a person’s vision is either affected by visual problems like peripheral vision, having very low eyesight or having problems seeing in few areas of vision such as in front, not seeing in 3-D or in color, etc.
Surveys predict that 13 million Americans aged 40 and older will have a visual impairment or be blind by the year 2050.In Britain, there are around 25,000 children who require specialist education support according to a study.Irrespective of the age of an individual,vision impairment is the most common problem that requires utmost attention as it can also have considerable economic impact.
There are many reasons for blindness in children,however,cerebral visual impairment which means-damage to areas of brain associated with vision rather than damage to the eye, is among the most common.
In order to help children suffering with this problem and to improve their eye-sight,a team of neuroscientists and game designers developed a new ‘visual search rehabilitation game’. To create and evaluate the game,scientists from the University of Lincoln,UK are working with WESC, one of the UK’s most reputed specialist schools for visually impaired children.
Though,it is proved that visual search training can lead to significant recovery of sight,the problem with these training programmes is that they are too boring and children may not get attracted to them.
Not just children,the research team believes that the game will be suitable for rehabilitation of adults who have suffered sight loss due to stroke.The project brings together expertise from different branches and implements this acquired knowledge so that it could make difference to the quality of life lead by visually impaired children.
“Our game will be a fun computer based tool which will benefit children with visual field loss — holes in their vision due to damage to the brain’s visual pathways”,said Project Lead Timothy Hodgson, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience in the School of Psychology at the University of Lincoln.
The game provides users with a ‘visual search’ task and its principles are derived from existing programmes,where patients have to search for hard-to-find objects on a computer screen.The game will be modified to make the tasks more entertaining for children and at the same to aims to maximize the efficiency of learning.
University of Lincoln and WESC are awarded with a grant worth around £130,000 for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).It will apply the very latest research in visual neuroscience to the rehabilitation of childhood cerebral visual impairment and special education.
WESC foundation employed its first visual neuroscientist who is supervised by University of Lincoln and plans to expand their research and development in future to help many young people and little children with visual impairment.
The Financial support for the project is provided by the Technology Strategy Board and the UK’s Medical Research Council (MRC).