The CEI Foundation awards grant to teens for virtual reality game to treat eye disorder

  • Posted on: Feb 19 2018
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The Cincinnati Eye Institute Foundation, the charitable foundation of Cincinnati Eye Institute, has awarded two seniors at Loveland High School a grant of $3,000. The Foundation’s Research Committee, chaired by Robert Sisk, M.D., made this IGNITE grant to fund an innovative treatment for children with amblyopia, also known as lazy eye. This grant will fund additional computer equipment that will allow children to use virtual reality glasses to play games while strengthening eye muscles.

Emily Kiehl and Radu Vasilescu came up with the idea to use Oculus Rift virtual reality technology to simulate patching one’s eye and playing games filled with perspective and optical depth perspective on the eye needing therapy.

Kiehl, who was born with amblyopia and was successfully treated for the condition, sees this as a potential treatment method. “Using the VR headset, we believe that children can force their brain to start using both eyes evenly,” Kiehl said.

Kiehl and Vasilescu built a prototype of this design at the University of Cincinnati event “Revolution UC,” a 24-hour, team-based project development competition and won the first place prize awarded by a panel of IT professionals. They invested the winnings from this prize into development of the project.

“By surpassing 40 plus college-level teams with our high school prototype, we proved our project is worthwhile and has recognized potential,” added Vasilescu.

Kiehl and Vasilescu presented the idea to The Cincinnati Eye Institute Foundation and were awarded a $3,000 grant which they will use to purchase two high-powered computers needed to run the program. The students previously built a computer from scrap parts and a loaned graphics card. The computers will enable them to expand their research into the effectiveness of this approach.

“We are happy to award Emily and Radu an IGNITE grant for their forward-thinking and entrepreneurial approach to help children born with amblyopia,” said Patrick Ward, president of The Cincinnati Eye Institute Foundation. “We support efforts for new treatments to help eye disorders, and know that this project has the ability to help many young children.”

The team is hoping to involve students in the Loveland School District, as well as Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in their project to help them test out the technology.

Both Kiehl and Vasilescu will graduate from Loveland High School this spring and will pursue computer science degrees; Kiehl will attend the University of Cincinnati and Vasilescu will attend Duke University.

About The Cincinnati Eye Institute Foundation

The Cincinnati Eye Institute Foundation is a 501c (3) charity founded by CEI in 2006. Its mission supports programs that promote a lifetime of good vision through three initiatives: community outreach, education, and research. The Foundation will see 2,700 patients in its free, adult vision clinics in 2018; provide continuing education credits for doctors of optometry and financial support of UC’s ophthalmology program; and provide IGNITE grants to encourage research into new treatments and cures for eye disease.

About Cincinnati Eye Institute

For more than 70 years, CEI has compassionately provided the highest level of medical and surgical eye care that has enhanced the quality of our patients’ lives. CEI strives to be regionally recognized as the first and best choice for medical and surgical eye care.

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