In August this year, Cure Kids Ventures invested in Objective Acuity, a company which was founded in July 2016 following a breakthrough by researchers at The University of Auckland in detecting eyesight problems in very young children through revolutionary eye technology.
A camera reads tiny, involuntary movements of the eye helping optometrists and eye specialists identify vision problems. It is estimated one in five children have visual problems that are undetected and 80 per cent of learning happens through their eyes up to the age of 12.
Identifying vision problems in toddlers has long been a difficult and often stressful process. The new technology can pick up childhood vision problems without children having to read a chart or identify pictures to get an accurate and reliable measurement.
While the initial focus is on improving outcomes in children, Objective Acuity are also looking to complement or replace traditional eye charts used in adult eye care due to the objective and automative nature of the new technology. Over an individual’s lifetime, 60 to 70% of all people will need visual correction at one stage or another.
Researchers Dr Ben Thompson and Dr Jason Turuwhenua invented this novel visual system which detects a moving pattern and creates an involuntary eye movement called Optokinetic Nystagmus (OKN) – a reflex which allows our eyes to follow moving objects while our head stays steady, like watching telephone poles on the side of the road when travelling in a car. It has been known that OKN is an excellent measure of how well someone sees, but there was no objective measure.
With the new system, a child can sit in front of a screen, watching a moving stimulus. If they can see the movement, it induces OKN, which is measured by a head and eye tracking device. Novel imaging processing algorithms extract the OKN image from the video footage of the child’s eyes. The technology doesn’t require language or the need to hold the child’s head still. It is completely objective.
Cure Kids Ventures is excited that Objective Acuity is based in New Zealand with immense potential in the global market of optometrists and ophthalmologists, and a potential for school and pre-school screening programmes. Formal trials have also begun to develop the product further.
Cure Kids Ventures (CKV) is a vital part of Cure Kids’ vision of a healthy childhood for everyone. CKV is a seed and early stage investment fund that invests in the commercialisation of healthcare innovation in products and services with a potential to benefit child health.