The medical world’s realisations into the possible applications of virtual reality (VR) in medicine are increasing all the time, with news today from America on a new study which may lead to better testing. The San Francisco based American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) reported today on the results of an investigation by researchers at the University of California in San Diego into whether virtual reality could be used as a tool to test the balance ability of patients suffering from glaucoma or other forms of chronic eye disease. Balance issues resulting in falls are deemed to be the premiere cause of injury or even death amongst suffers, compounded by the age of those afflicted are mostly in older age groups with 2.7 million people in the United States alone aged 40 or more suffering from glaucoma.
Previous tests had apparently revealed little direct correlation between a person’s loss of balance, leading to falls, and their field of vision. However the study, published today, reveals for the first time an apparently definite link between the two thanks to work undertaken using virtual reality.
The team responsible used the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD) which simulated movement and a platform which measured changes in force to test eighty individuals, forty-two of whom suffered from a form of eye-sight deterioration. The results showed that those suffering made 30-40% more severe corrections in their balance than those with healthy eyesight. Upon further investigation it was shown there was also a direct correlation between those with a history of falls and those who had the made the greatest corrections in the test.
It is hoped with these results that further tests may be developed to identify high-risk patients and install safeguards to prevent or reduce injury.
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