Gaming for an Independent Life

A new computer game, developed by neuroscientists from WESC Foundation and the University of Lincoln, could help visually-impaired children lead independent lives. The game has been rolled out online, www.eyelander.co.uk, and it is being made freely available for families, schools and healthcare providers.

The browser-based game, called Eyelander, has been designed to help young people with visual field loss caused by Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI) – which is usually the result of a brain injury rather than damage to the eye itself – to use their vision more effectively.

The behavioural therapy featured in the game trains players to move their eyes more efficiently by finding the correct colourful shape in a range of competing colours and shapes shown at different positions on the screen, all led by an animated avatar and punctuated with encouraging words to motivate the player.

Existing training programs usually only offer black and white displays without interaction or gameplay. The aim of Eyelander is to offer colourful and engaging vision training as you play the computer game. This is often a challenging activity for children with visual field loss as finding and viewing graphics on a monitor can be difficult.

Through regular practice, the exercises can improve performance in daily activities that require good vision, such as walking more safely in a crowded environment or reaching for something in the supermarket. Researchers believe that playing the game 10 times over four weeks may give users improvement in their functional vision.

WESC Foundation would like visually impaired young people to play the game and take part in a research study to gather data that will advance their understanding of the complex challenges faced by young people with visual field loss.

If you have visual field loss, are a parent with a child who has visual field loss, or know anyone who might be interested in taking part in this research project then please visit www.eyelander.co.uk to register and play the game. For more information please contact Jonathan Waddington, WESC’s Research Scientist, by email jwaddington@wescfoundation.ac.uk or call 01392 454349.

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