Page last updated at 13:18 GMT, Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Software boost for sight-impaired

Eye
The software translates the images a child sees on to a screen

Computer software with the potential to improve the lives of visually-impaired children has been developed by doctors and academics in Glasgow.

Sight-Sim measures a child's eyes and translates the images on to a screen.

Parents and teachers can then gauge the range of the child's vision and make appropriate changes to the environment around them.

The team behind the software has won a Medical Futures Innovation Award in the ophthalmology category.

The idea for the system was conceived by Professor Gordon Dutton, a paediatric ophthalmologist at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow.

It was then developed by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde clinical scientists, Ruth Hamilton, Michael Bradnam and Aled Evans, in collaboration with Dr Paul Siebert, a computing scientist at the University of Glasgow.

'Life-changing'

Professor Dutton said Sight-Sim could be "life-changing" for visually-impaired children.

He said: "Eye care professionals spend a great deal of time and effort measuring vision and expressing it in numbers, and then send out letters to parents and teachers with information which they may not fully understand.

"This software, whether on a computer screen at home, in a doctor's clinic or in the classroom, can simply reveal what the child actually sees after the adult has inputted the measurements contained in the letter.

"At school a visually-impaired child can take longer to complete exercises and homework and that leads to them staying behind to catch up.

"It's not because they can't do the work, it's because the text and pictures need to be bigger, but not everyone recognises this."

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