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Dr. Beth and Dr. Nate lecture in Miami

This weekend, Dr. Nate, Dr. Beth and vision therapists took a trip to Miami Beach to attend the 6th Annual Florida COVD Study Group. Dr. Nate is one of the founding members of the group and usually goes each summer to listen, lecture, and discuss the very latest treatments for patients.

The talks were very good. Bob Orsillo, OD spoke about about sports vision enhancement. Dr. John Kuluz from Miami Children’s Neurology Dept spoke about sports-related concussion. Dr. Matthew Kay, South Florida’s leading neuro-ophthalmologist, spoke about double vision.

Dr. Beth and Dr. Nate gave a 2 hour Prezi called “Amblyopia and Strabismus Therapy Treatment with Virtual Reality“. It was an interactive discussion of our use of Vivid Vision, the Oculus Rift-based VR vision therapy tool. It was created to bring immersive new technology to long-standing principles of vision therapy. You can read more about Vivid Vision here.

After hours there was swimming, food and drinks, and more discussion about vision therapy. 🙂

The meeting was sponsored by Eyecarrot. They the company behind, Binovi, the new vision therapy tracking technology that we are using at Bright Eyes.

Here are a few pictures from the meeting:

01 Vivid Vision in action02

Vivid Vision Hom Virtual Reality TherapyGood news! I am thrilled to announce that Bright Eyes Family Vision Care is now offering Vivid Vision Virtual Reality-based vision therapy system for home use. For a year we have offered Vivid Vision in our Bright Eyes Kids clinic in new Tampa and I have been extremely impressed with the benefits of the system. Vivid Vision uses computer-generated virtual reality to deliver the well-established vision therapy treatments for conditions such as strabismus and amblyopia. We have already seen several impressive upgrades to the system. If fact, you may have seen the multiple news segments showcasing the benefits for both children and adults.

Well, after much waiting, I am very excited that Bright Eyes is among the first in the world to offer this ground-breaking treatment at use at home in addition to the office. This will allow for patients to receive virtual reality vision therapy treatment more frequently and more conveniently than before.

gearCurrently, the Vivid Vision Home therapy runs on either the Samsung Gear VR (shown left) or the more expensive Oculus Rift. It will be coming to Google Daydeam and HTC Vive as well.

It should be pointed out that for the patient’s safety, Vivid Vision Home therapy must be performed under the supervision of an eye doctor specially trained in vision therapy. An initial visual evaluation is necessary to determine the correct diagnosis and treatment options. Vivid Vision Home should only be used within the context of a vision therapy program. As with all medical devices, it should be used as instructed. It is possible to over do it!

For more information on Vivid Vision Home, please see their website. To find out if Vivid Vision Home therapy is right for you or a family member call us at 813-792-9637 or fill out a request at the form below.

 

– Dr. Nate

Fox 13’s Dr. Jo Comes to Bright Eyes to Cover Vision Therapy for Amblyopia

I usually go to bed around 9:30pm, so I was surprised when Edna, Bright Eyes Family Vision Care’s head Vision Therapist, texted me at 10:15 pm to say “You are on the news! Turn on Fox 13!”

She was right. The 4 minute video on our vision therapy program was shown that night and it was repeated the next morning. It was seen by lots of people, judging by the phone calls and email afterward.

You might remember that this summer an adult patient, Betsy, and I were interviewed by Bay News 9 about virtual reality therapy for strabismus (mis-aligned eyes). Well, this was essentially a companion piece to that interview. This time the Dr. Jo from Fox 13 News and her camera man came to Bright Eyes Kids to do a story about amblyopia (sometimes called “lazy eye”). It featured a delightful young patient of mine, Ben, and his parents.

You can watch the video below and if you’d like to read the print story and see some pictures, you can go here.

I love this video. It makes some important points that modern treatment of amblyopia does not involve wearing an eye patch, but rather new technology to teach the eyes how to work together. Not all patients in vision therapy use contact lenses, but that is common in amblyopia treatment, even for young children.

Not only does it cover the subject of amblyopia well, but you can really see the excitement of Ben and his mom. He really has made incredible progress with vision therapy!

It is very rewarding that the media has been interested in our Vivid Vision Virtual Reality Vision Therapy program. It is a wonderfully fun and high-tech application of the principles we use in vision therapy to help children and adults with problems like amblyopia, strabismus and more.

If you are looking for evaluation or treatment of amblyopia, strabismus, or other visual problem for you or your child, request an appointment or call us at (813)-792-0637.

-Dr. Nate

Bright Eyes Family Vision Care and Bright Eyes Kids

Dr. Nate and Betsy Yaros discuss Vivid Vision on Bay News 9

Several weeks ago we mentioned that Dr. Randy Shuck from Bay News 9 interviewed Betsy Yaros and Dr. Nate about Vivid Vision, the Virtual Reality Vision Therapy.

You can watch the whole segment here:

Here are the topics that are covered in the interview

  • Betsy discussed the nature of her vision problems. She explains that she was born premature with cross-eyed and required surgeries. Over time her vision got worse. When the eyes don’t work together, people cannot see 3D.
  • Dr. Nate explained that in some cases, such as Betsy’s, eye surgery can actually over-correct the problem and make it worse.
  • VRVTBetsy described some of the experience she had due her vision problem: being unable to read due to headaches, walking into walls, problems with depth perception, challenges with driving.
  • Dr. Nate explains how Vivid Vision applies Virtual Reality experiences to the principles used in vision therapy. In everyday life, each eye sees the world slightly differently and the brain puts the two images together to provide depth perception. In Vision Therapy, we carefully control the image that each eye sees. This is even more precisely controlled by the Occulus Rift VR system.
  • Betsy describes how easy and fun it was to use Vivid Vision and her experience seeing 3D for the first time.
  • Dr. Nate describes that frequently children do not recognize that they do not see the world the way others do and therefore they don’t complain. For this reason, optometrists recommend eye and vision exams and six months of age, 3 years of age, and every year while in school. This will test the visual skills they need to be successful in school, including the how the eyes move, focus, and work together. These skills can be developed through vision therapy, which includes Vivid Vision.
  • The age of patients that can use Vivid Vision is 6 to adulthood. In some cases, Vivid Vision can shorten the total length of treatment. It certainly makes it more fun.

You can see Betsy’s artwork and read her blog at her website: http://betsyyaros.com/

You can read more about Vivid Vision Virtual Reality Vision Therapy. If you have questions about whether or not Vivid Vision or Vision Therapy in general is an option for you or your child, call us at 813-792-9637, or use the comment section below.

-Dr. Nate

Recommendations for Playing Pokemon Go

pkIf you are under 30 or have kids, chances are good that you’ve heard of Pokemon, a card game/cultural phenomenon featuring “pocket monsters”, combining card collecting, game play, and battling. Pokemon is celebrating its 20th year and has spawned books, TV shows, movies, video games, and more.

The new app called Pokemon Go is one of the hottest phone-based games in a long time. It’s an augmented-reality game where you catch and battle pretend Pokemon in the real world. And it’s fun.

I am too old to have played Pokemon as a kid, but my kids play. I am interested in real-world electronic gaming and used to be very involved in Foursquare. 4 years ago I did play Ingress, a phone-based global game of Capture the Flag built by Niantic (then a Google company). Niantic is the company behind Pokemon Go. So when a librarian mentioned to my daughter (checking out a Pokemon book), that the public library was a Pokespot, I decided to download the game and play it with my kids.

If you play Pokemon Go, there are lots of helpful guides to get you started. Here is one my wife found on Forbes. I encourage you to read them, because there is no game play guide. What follows are the recommendations from a pediatric optometrist to parents with kids about how to make Pokemon Go the best it can be for your family.

PLAY. OUTSIDE. SAFELY.

  1. Play Pokemon Go WITH your kids!

    Pokemon Go TeamBW

    Our avatar walking around.

This is a rare chance to play on a digital device as a family! Take advantage of it.

  1. Create a rule that the app can only be opened OUTSIDE.

Spending time outdoors is important for children’s visual development. Pokemon Go is one of those few apps that encourage this. In fact, users are posting complaints about how much exercise they are getting by using it! Don’t forget sunglasses and sunscreen.

Get out of your car and play! Let’s face it. Driving around just to catch Pokemon without getting outside and exploring is just lazy. And defeats the goal of getting exercise and playing in the real world. Lots of parks and areas with public art have Pokestops and Pokemon Gyms. Get out of the car, catch some Pokemon, but enjoy real world, too.

  1. Insist that you play in a group.

Walking around distracted, eyes affixed to your phone, is risky. Streets, curbs, bicycles, lampposts, and other people could be ignored. People have been injured playing Pokemon Go. Play in a group, so that someone is paying attention to the surroundings. In our house, the group must include both kids and one grown-up. Grown-ups can keep the group from going where it shouldn’t. Plus, it is more fun with other people!

  1. Use caution with strangers.

Pokemon Go Zubat

Catching a Zubat.

One cool thing is that players tend to congregate at Pokemon Gyms and Pokestops. You can see them looking at their phones and hear them talking to each other in Pokemon language. These players can provide helpful suggestions, but make sure your children understand to use common sense with strangers. Again, having a parent in the group is helpful here.

  1. Only allow play during daylight and in safe areas.

Maybe this is common sense for younger kids, but I have read stories about teens walking around in the early hours of the morning, going to unfamiliar areas to catch a Meowth or an Oddish. Combine this with attention being paid to the screen and, well, you get the idea. There have already been people arrested for using Pokemon Go to lure people to a secluded area and robbing them.

  1. Consider an external charger for your phone.

Even with the battery-saving setting, if you take long walks, your battery will not hold up if you are playing Pokemon Go the whole time. Just saying.

Update: A good reminder from my Neighborhood Homeowners Association: Many PokeStops are fountains and fountains are often in ponds. Know what else are in ponds in Florida? Alligators. So don’t get too close to ponds without looking around. Especially at night. The local police have a few other recommendations here.

One more thing. I know for a fact that there are Pokespots and Pokemon near the Bright Eyes Family Vision Care office. (Unfortunately, none near Bright Eyes Kids.) So don’t forget to Catch ‘Em All when you come to your appointment. 🙂

-Dr. Nate

Interview with James Blaha, Co-Founder of Vivid Vision

Vivid Vision Logo - With CircleTo continue our series on Virtual Reality. I was lucky enough to interview James Blaha, co-founder of Vivid Vision. I have known James for couple of years and have been fascinated by both his story and the product of his efforts. I am excited to share his thoughts with you.

 

 

Dr. Nate: Can you tell me about your original visual problem and the treatment options you were given?

James: I was diagnosed with amblyopia and strabismus before I could speak using the fly stereo test. I would rub my hand flat on the paper instead of trying to grab the fly. My parents had me patch, but I would constantly take it off and peek out of the side when they weren’t paying attention. I did vision therapy exercises at home and sometimes in a clinic. When I was 9 years old they told me that I was too old for my weak eye to improve, and we should give up with the patching and exercises.

Unfortunately, many patients hear that. What aspects of your treatment did you want to improve with Vivid Vision treatment treatment?

I want to make it fun for younger kids. I absolutely hated patching and VT exercises growing up, and I think that contributed to the treatment not working for me. We also want to demonstrate that you can improve vision in adults with our system as well and push the state of the art forward for adult binocular vision treatments. There are a huge number of untreated adults with amblyopia and strabismus and we want to get the message out that there is something they can do to improve their vision.

Did you have grand vision of changing the way doctors practice or did it just evolve over time?

It evolved over time. At first I was just planning on making something to explore how my own vision works. When it worked better than I expected, that vision expanded to making a game anyone could play at home. Once I dove deeper into binocular vision and spoke to several optometrists, ophthalmologists, and vision scientists it became apparent that it is a deeply complex issue where everyone has a unique situation. This lead us to want to develop tools for optometrists to use rather than release something that didn’t involve eye doctors at all.

How does it feel to read and hear breakthrough stories of Vivid Vision patients like Betsy who describes her new 3D vision as a “superpower”?

It feels amazing. One of the things I’ve learned from speaking with hundreds of people with amblyopia and strabismus is that even though I had a tough time growing up with it, most people had a much more difficult time than I did. The reason we are building Vivid Vision is to improve people’s lives, to increase the reliability and efficiency of treatment, and to reduce the cost of treatment so that all of the millions of adults and children with lazy eye can get access to it. For many that means being able to pursue careers and hobbies that were previously out of their reach.

I expected Vivid Vision to be a great tool for treating amblyopia. I am surprised at how effective it appears to be for strabismus. What is it about Vivid Vision that you think makes it such an effective treatment option?

I think there are three major factors that contribute to the effectiveness of Vivid Vision over previous treatments. The first is that we have an awesome team of optometrists, ophthalmologists, and vision scientists advising us and providing input on the system. Our Chief Optometrist Tuan Tran worked directly with patients and vision therapists treating binocular vision issues, our Science Adviser Ben Backus runs a vision science lab at SUNY studying binocular vision, and Dr. Paul Harris at SCO has given us advice and feedback since nearly the very beginning of the company.

The second factor is our use of virtual reality hardware. Because the system is enclosed, it means that the viewing conditions are always exactly the same. With other 3D technologies external lightning makes it difficult to be sure you are delivering exactly the right visual stimulus. Another big issue is inter-ocular contrast, and VR headsets provide a higher inter-ocular contrast than other methods of delivering unique images to each eye. Lastly, we think that providing training environments that are more like real life will make it more likely that the visual skills patients are learning will transfer outside of the training environment and into the real world.

The third factor is that the games and activities are more fun and more realistic than previous treatments. Although the locations and games may be more exciting and different than the real world, we believe that the exercises should contain visual activities that closely resemble people’s real life. Instead of choosing between relatively artificial targets on a screen, they could be choosing which basketball to catch at a park, for example. We want people to be practicing how to use their vision in ways they can directly apply to their life.

What has been the general feedback from doctors? Does this new technology make them uncomfortable?

Optometrists have been really positive about the technology. I think that most eye doctors realize that vision therapy could use more tools and that there is no reason these activities can’t be engaging and fun. Some doctors have been hesitant to bring in VR technology, but I think that is normal for any new tech to have a warming up period where people get familiar with it.

Is there anything else you want to add?

We want to empower doctors to treat more patients more efficiently by building them a set of tools to measure, track, and treat binocular vision issues. We want to educate patients so that they know there is a treatment option for them and connect them to doctors. We think this is the only way the millions of untreated adults can get treatment for their binocular vision issues.

Thank you, James, for sharing your story.

Bright Eyes is proud to offer Vivid Vision to our patients who will benefit from it. For readers who are interested in Vivid Vision, read more here or call us at 813-792-0637. You can request appointments here.

See Well!

-Dr. Nate

Virtual Reality Therapy

I have been interested in Virtual Reality (VR) for a long time. In the early 2000’s I had my first computer-aided “augmented reality” experience at Wired’s NEXTFEST. I got to put on a headset and play a human-sized game of PacMan, where I walked around a real-life maze and ate virtual power-pellets. It was very eye-opening to the possibilities of VR.

Then at a MakerFaire in Orlando, I experienced VR paragliding. I sat in a mounted paragliding harness with an Oculus Rift on my face and a fan blowing on me to simulate wind. I soared through a canyon controlling the virtual glider with the hand-pulls from above. Again, it was both fun and extraordinarily realistic!

Virtual Reality Therapy

Jamie-Lee demonstrating Vivid Vision

About that time, I had an idea for an adventure game that was 3D and fun to play, but would also be therapy for people who have binocular vision problems such as amblyopia and strabismus. This game would take all the principles of vision therapy, but make it much more engaging and effective. I am very happy to say that something similar to this has been made by Vivid Vision. We offer this Virtual Reality therapy as a part of our vision therapy program. It is even more effective as what I envisioned, and the results we’ve seen has been absolutely incredible.

This morning I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Note to Self . It is about being human in a world of technology. The episode was about Virtual Reality and the benefits and challenges it presents. The show included an interesting idea that I had not thought much about: harnessing VR as biofeedback for other forms of therapy. So I did a little research and found out that there is indeed serious research looking into this.

Here are some examples:

All of these topics revolve around mental heath (i’m no expert), which is often about perception of reality and how well patients respond to experiential treatment. Interestingly, the visual problems that we treat in my office are often about perception, and my patients continue to respond well to experiential therapy.

As you can see, we’ve come a long way from VR Pac-Man!I enjoy seeing the results from using VR in our vision therapy program, and I cannot wait to see how this technology evolves!

-Dr. Nate

Bright Eyes Family Vision Care and Bright Eyes Kids

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