Space shooter game has glaucoma in its sights
science・it Oct 26, 2022

Space shooter game has glaucoma in its sights

Novel smartphone game app quickly tests users' eyesight as they have fun blasting asteroids

by emi takahata
J-STORIES - Japanese researchers have paired smartphone game technology with field-of-vision tracking to come up with a novel way to test for one of the globe's most common eye conditions.
Toru Nakazawa of Tohoku University School of Medicine teamed up with broadcaster Sendai Television Inc. to create Meteor Blaster, a space shooting game that can also detect symptoms of glaucoma, a condition that is the leading cause of adult-onset blindness in Japan.
Nakazawa and his team wanted to devise a test for the eyes that could be undertaken by anyone, anywhere. The result was a game that incorporates elements of standard ophthalmology tests.
Just five minutes playing Meteor Blaster is sufficient to test both eyes. Players press the “shoot” button to destroy incoming asteroids as they enter the crosshairs in the center of the screen. Meanwhile, they also press the "capture" button whenever they spot white lights that flash randomly. 
The game is played using one eye at a time. As in a conventional eye exam, it encourages the user to focus on the center of the screen and at the same time assesses his or her visual field. After the game, players receive a “report” that can help to identify visual abnormalities. 
Meteor Blaster is based on a classic asteroid destroying game. Source: Sendai Television Inc.
Meteor Blaster is based on a classic asteroid destroying game. Source: Sendai Television Inc.
Professor Toru Nakazawa. Source: Tohoku University
Professor Toru Nakazawa. Source: Tohoku University
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can lead to vision loss if left untreated. However, symptoms can start so slowly that sufferers often do not notice them in the early stages, meaning it is one of the most common causes of blindness worldwide. This means tests to detect the early onset of the condition are critical, says Tohoku University's Nakazawa.
He hopes the space shooter game will increase awareness of the disease and eye health in general, and that if it helps prevent even just one case of glaucoma blindness, it will have been a success, he added.
Translation by Tony McNicol
Top page photo by simonapilolla / Envato
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