New technology has potential to help 1.2 million Australians
FOR six-year-old Sora Wong everyday tasks like reading and playing with toys are a challenge because she is legally blind.
Edmund Wong said his six-year-old daughter can only see things clearly from about 10cm because of macular degeneration.
That is until now and with the aid of IrisVision, which corrects eye sight through virtual reality.
"I'm extremely happy to see her be able to see the same things at the same distance that we take for granted," Mr Wong said.
While rare in children, macular degeneration affects about 1.2 million Australians.
Globally, it is the leading cause of vision loss and is responsible for some 50% of visual impairment.
About 15% of the Australian population aged over 50 years have symptoms of early macular degeneration.
IrisVision is a wearable device with powerful magnification capabilities that helps provide a solution for sufferers of vision impairment using virtual reality technology.
It is powered by Samsung smartphones and Gear VR.
IrisVision can help restore independence by assisting clients with tasks for near, intermediate or distance; whether it's reading, writing, maintaining personal care or observing the family photographs.
IrisVision CEO Ammad Khan said it is one of the world's first device that offers the ability to view at different distances and provides a field of view of up to 70 degrees whilst being able to focus automatically.
"IrisVision can provide people who have low vision with an accessible way back into the visual world," he said. "One of the most remarkable things about IrisVision is that at the heart of the system is a smartphone just like the ones people carry every day, making this an easy-to-use solution for the vision impaired."
Vision Australia CEO Ron Hooton said Vision Australia supports people living with low vision to become fully independent.
"New technologies like IrisVision can make a substantial difference to the quality of life for some people with vision impairment," he said.
"It helps enhance the remaining sight of people with a range of conditions, allowing them to carry out every day activities that others take for granted."
Samsung Australia Business and Enterprise Mobility Vice President Steven Sherry said the technology giant was excited to bring the device to the Australian market in collaboration with IrisVision and Vision Australia.
"At Samsung, we believe in delivering meaningful innovation in everything we do, and this project is a great example of how technology can genuinely impact someone's life," he said.
Developed in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins optical clinic, IrisVision utilises customised software on a Samsung smartphone and Samsung Gear VR.
When using the device, the patient can control their magnification level, and use multiple viewing modes such as full screen with bubble, bioptic/split screen, line reading and many more depending on what task you want to do or what you want to view.
IrisVision can be suitable for Australians living with low vision due to a range of conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic-related implications and other stroke and neurological conditions.
Anyone interested in using IrisVision must consult their qualified medical professional before proceeding.
IrisVision is available through Vision Australia for $4000, but before purchasing Australians are recommended to have an assessment with Vision Australia's clinical staff to assess if it is right for them.