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Can Gaming Software Help Support Vision Therapy?

Image courtesy of AmblyoPlay
Image courtesy of AmblyoPlay
AmblyoPlay is wellness software that gamifies vision exercises for children.

Interactive gaming software launching today as a wellness product aims to engage children in vision therapy for amblyopia (lazy eye), mild strabismus (crossed or turned eye) or convergence insufficiency (eyes unable to focus together). AmblyoPlay, developed by Smart Optometry, “complements in-office vision therapy and increases at-home vision therapy participation through gamification,” explained Žan Menart, CEO of AmblyoPlay.

“Through Smart Optometry’s network of doctors, a common problem communicated to us from presentation to presentation and from one country to another was that although children could be diagnosed, and training could be developed, kids wouldn’t do the traditional vision therapy exercises because they were not fun,” Menart told MD+DI. “With that feedback, we decided to alter our program to address the unique needs of children. We knew that if we wanted children to engage, we had to make it fun and exciting—leading to the interactive gaming software we have today.”

Menart said that AmblyoPlay was developed in conjunction with doctors who have first-hand experience treating these conditions. “Through our research and their input, we were able to develop AmblyoPlay to target children,” he said. “AmblyoPlay does not replace the guidance provided by a healthcare professional. Rather, it is intended to serve as another tool to improve visual function of patients and improve their quality of life.”

Children can “play” AmblyoPlay at home on Windows or Mac computers, Android tablets, or iPads while wearing red-and-blue-lensed glasses during two 15-minute sessions per day. They are rewarded with tokens that can be exchanged for physical awards that are sent to their home.

“Depending on the issue, patients can observe several different outcomes,” Menart explained. “The most standard is clearer and sharper image as the lazy eye improves. This is a consequence of better eye-brain connection. When we are solving convergence insufficiency, the improvement can be observed through lesser eye strain when reading or writing and in general easier conducting of any near tasks. With strabismus, we can see the improvement even with plain sight: the eye turn decreases or disappears completely. Of course, there are many different symptoms that can occur and AmblyoPlay can help with (i.e. double vision etc.).”

Image courtesy of AmblyoPlay

When asked whether AmblyoPlay has been cleared or approved by FDA or other regulators, Menart said that it “is a wellness software that only assists and guides the user through sets of exercises. As such, we are not a medical device, and thus we are not currently seeking FDA approval. As we expand upon the solution in the future, we definitely will be seeking FDA approval if we start adding more medical elements to the software.”

There are three subscription options for accessing AmblyoPlay – three months, six months, or a year, depending upon the needs of the user. Parents can monitor their child’s progress through AmblyoPlay’s automated progression tracker and share the results with their child’s doctor, the company reported in a news release.

In terms of seeking reimbursement through insurance, Menart said that the company is “actively looking to obtain reimbursement through insurance, but we have no ETA on the timeline. We do already have deals in place in Europe, but in the U.S., we are just getting started. With our competitive price-point, we believe that even without reimbursement our solution is very affordable.” A three-month subscription for AmblyoPlay starts at $110.

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