2022 Winner: Towards a Gaze-Based Immersive Virtual Reality Game for Improving Visual Acuity with Amblyopia

Project Information
Towards a Gaze-Based Immersive Virtual Reality Game for Improving Visual Acuity with Amblyopia
Independent Study
Amblyopia is the most common neurological eye dis-
order worldwide, decreasing vision in approximately 1-5% of the
global population. To reduce this loss of visual acuity, occlusion
therapy is often beneficial for people with Amblyopia. Yet, this
conventional rehabilitation method often suffers from low compli-
ance and adherence rates due to its repetitive nature. Immersive
Virtual Reality (iVR) applied to occlusion therapy games has
a unique potential to engage players and stimulate their visual
acuity. Advances in modern untethered Head-Mounted Display
(HMD) systems that increase the accessibility of iVR open up new
opportunities for more significant serious games interventions
with Amblyopia. To this end, this paper investigates Project Star
Catcher, a novel serious iVR HMD exergame refactored as a short
3-minute gaze-based color-matching intervention, and examined
the game’s effects on the vision of adults with Amblyopia. We
present a pilot study [N=51 adults with Amblyopia] that measures
changes in LogMAR visual acuity between the serious game
(moving a drone to catch shooting stars) vs placebo (moving
a drone in an empty starry sky) and younger adults (39-) vs
older adults (39+) from a mean age split comparison between
users. Our results suggest that 3-minutes of serious iVR gameplay
with experiences such as Project Star Catcher can significantly
improve near distance visual acuity by over a mean of 6.2 letters
(a 500% increase) when compared to placebo. We also found that
older adults (39+ years old) improve their near-distance visual
acuity seven times greater than younger adults (under 39 years
old) from gameplay. This paper concludes with discussion and
considerations on utilizing iVR HMD serious games for visual
acuity and Amblyopia.
  • Rohan Jhangiani (Stevenson)
  • Adrian Parrales (Ten)