Virtual reality shows promise in diagnosing learning disabilities


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Khan Z, et. Al. EYE2EYE Series: Virtual Reality for Vision Therapy. Presented at: Vision Expo West; 14-17 Sept 2022; Las Vegas.

Khan is the CEO of Xenon VR. Williamson is the CEO of Engineus.

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LAS VEGAS – Virtual reality technology could offer promising new possibilities in diagnosing vision problems and learning disabilities such as dyslexia in children, according to a presentation at Vision Expo West.

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Jeffrey Williamson, BS, MS, MBA, CEO of Engineus and one of the developers of the multi-sensory screening and diagnostic tool VisionWearX and Zeshan Khan, BS, MS, Founder and CEO of Xenon-VR, said that virtual reality can simulate a dyslexic lens in a virtual test environment by stimulating the brain in the same way that commercially available tinted lenses do in patients with dyslexia.

Toddler with virtual reality
Source: Adobe Stock.

“The problem with the current paradigm, and why only 2% to 3% of it [eye care providers] doing any type of learning disability diagnostic is that it’s time consuming,” Williamson said. “You can spend an average of between six and eight one-hour sessions on an 8-year-old to get the right diagnosis. It’s extremely expensive, and 90% of insurance carriers don’t reimburse. What 8-year-old wants to go through that? We have found the solution.”

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The technician can control the virtual environment to make the testing process more comfortable for the patient, while the doctor analyzes the patient’s eye behavior with a number of integrated modules.

“Do I have to take her to space? Do I have to put them in the forest or on the beach? Easy. We control that,” Williamson said. “It has been found that 80% of learning occurs through the visual pathway. Dyslexia isn’t a visual problem per se, but it does have a visual component, more often than not, and you as ECPs are a great first line of defense.”

Virtual reality headsets like the VisionWearX are also able to integrate bioinformatic feedback such as heart and respiratory rate monitoring and EEG wavelengths, which can further increase the return on investment for doctors who integrate VR into their practices, the presenters said .

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“The question isn’t ‘why not use AR? [augmented reality], VR and Mixed Reality?’ It’s ‘why don’t you do it now?’” Williamson concluded. “Now you see why I get up every morning and do what I do. That changes life. You have the opportunity to make a difference.”

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