All Fun And Games: Diplopia, A VR Game For Treating Eyes

By Graham Smith on November 26th, 2013 at 5:00 pm.

Double your pleasure.

We’re still just scratching the surface of what the Oculus Rift can be used for. Diplopia, which has more than doubled its small IndieGoGo funding target with 48 days left to go, is a motion-controlled Oculus Rift game designed to help people with strabismus, also known as cross-eye. As reported by Polygon, it does that by helping re-train people’s brain so that it stops ignoring the weaker eye, and thus improves 3D vision.

Come watch the pitch video and see the power of videogames. Also it looks like a pretty fun first-person Breakout clone.

I’m going to quote a chunk from the James Blaha’s IndieGoGo page, because it explains the project extremely well.

Strabismus, better known as crossed eye, is present in about 4% of children. In those affected both eyes do not line up properly causing diplopia (double vision), amblyopia (lazy eye), and loss of vision in one or both eyes. Since the brain receives conflicting information from the two eyes it often learns to disregard the weaker of the two, suppressing it. This leads to a loss of depth perception and 3D vision.

It was long thought that once a person’s brain had learned to suppress one of their eyes that they could only unlearn this suppression before a “critical age” of between 8 and 12 years old. Only recently has it been shown that certain kinds of therapies (including video games) can actually treat strabismus past adolescence, allowing for the possibility of restoring 3D vision in adults.

Diplopia takes advantage of the wealth of new information in scientific studies that have come out in the past couple of years to create an experience that will effectively train people who have a suppressed eye to use that eye in conjunction with their good one. Evidence shows that with a simple well designed game it only takes 1-2 hours a day for 2-3 weeks for a person to get measurable improvements in their vision.

It aims to re-train your brain by showing a differently coloured image to each eye, forcing your “lazy eye” to focus more in order to play properly.

The game has basically already been made, and the money Blaha was asking for will be used to pay for the Oculus Development Kit and a Unity Pro license. With those targets hit, he’s outlined a series of stretch goals for the project, including Razer Hydra support and various expansions to the game mechanics.

If you like the sound of it, take a look at the Diplopia IndieGoGo page.

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24 Comments »

  1. ividyon says:

    Very cool. Maybe this will help video games fight the stigma of being ABSOLUTELY BAD FOR EVERYONE EXCEPT ASPIRING SERIAL KILLERS.

    • Vinraith says:

      I can see the headline now: Video game trains crazy people to be better snipers.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        Fun fact (which won’t deter tabloid reporters at all): binocular depth cues (depth perception by comparing the images/oculomotor sensations from both eyes) only helps out to around 30 feet at most, and even at short ranges, shooters look down/through the sights with only one eye. Thus, binocular vision is completely irrelevant to shooting (maybe excepting fast hipshots from close range).

        Axe-murderers, on the other hand, would totally be impaired by strabismus. Binocular cues are important for judging objects at or near arm’s length. I can reach for something three feet away and miss by a foot if I’m not paying attention. So there’s your angle if you’re a science-minded reporter for a sleazy tabloid.

        (I always get annoyed when tabletop RPGs give cyclopses and/or one-eyed pirates penalties to hit with ranged weapons, but not in melee. It should be the other way around!)

        • Axess Denyd says:

          Well TECHNICALLY you keep both eyes open when shooting even at distance because it helps you pick your target faster, and if you use something like a 4x Trijicon up close it’s more useful to cover it and use it as an Occluded Eye Gunsight or using the Bindon Aiming Concept…

          http://www.trijicon.com/na_en/company/unique_to_trijicon.php

          But yeah, long range it makes a difference for speed, not accuracy.

          I have the vision problem too, if I try to use a red dot as an OEG it is off by about 2 feet at a distance of 10 feet.

          I was just reading about the study with Tetris the other day, and now that this exists it by itself would be enough to justify me getting a Rift. Maybe I can get my Health Savings Account to chip in…

          • JimboDeany says:

            He is correct, you learn to focus on one eye or the other depending on whether you are finding your target or aiming. It takes a while but once you can do it you can shoot things up a whole lot faster.

  2. grimdanfango says:

    Fantastic news, thanks for bringing this to my attention RPS!

    I had my crossed-eye corrected with surgery when I was a kid, and had to wear the dreaded eye-patch for a while to try and strengthen my lazy eye, but it seems it had limited effect and I grew up with my right eye entirely dominant. I never really understood what the point was at the time, and have rarely been aware of it causing any noticable problem (although it probably partially accounts for my complete lack of skill at ball-games :-P)

    Now I’m 31, and ever since the big resurgance of 3D cinema, I’ve been acutely aware that I’m being forced to pay extra for something that has no actual effect on me (and just makes everything annoyingly dark).
    …and so it’s started to make me wonder how much else I’m missing. I’d actually started looking into it recently, wondering if there was any way I might be able to re-train my brain after all these years.

    So, given the excitement I already have for the Rift, this seems just about perfect for my needs :-D
    Maybe some day in the future, I’ll finally be able to truly “enjoy” Avatar :-P (I’m not sure if working stereoscopic vision will be enough though)

    • Loiosh says:

      Hi Grim,

      One thing to keep in mind is that strabismus is a mechanical problem, but you can have an associated visual system problem as well. It is best to go see a vision therapist or developmental ophthalmologist who specializing in vision therapy to check if you might have one of those conditions (specifically, anomalous retinal correspondence or ARC).

      I suffer from non-harmonic ARC (type 2) which means that in addition to anti-suppression training, I also have to do (NRC, or anti-ARC) fusion practice (and lots and lots and lots of other things :D) to work on my vision issues.

      If you’d like to learn more about vision system issues, take a read of ‘Fixing My Gaze’ – It’s how I discovered I was a strabismus sufferer as well and decided to get treatment for it.

      • Loiosh says:

        Also, just for other people with vision problems, if you’re curious what VT is all about. I’ve been extensively documenting each session and my homework (and progress) over on SN. This is the thread that links all the posts together: http://www.shacknews.com/chatty?id=31028317#item_31028317

        For those wondering, I have an incomitant alternating esotropic strabismus with hypertropia. (My eyes shift position, slightly inward (+5 base-in) with my left eye always pointing upward by +4 degrees). My developmental problem and cause of my stereoblindness is non-harmonic intermittent anomalous retinal correspondence (NH-ARC) type II, where I have a non-fusion of two visual fields with triplopia (diplopia = 2 copies of an object, I see 3 copies of most objects).

        • grimdanfango says:

          Thanks for the fantastic information Loiosh, it’s much appreciated.

          I’d been under the impression in the past that the boat had sailed so-to-speak, that there wasn’t much to be done past the age of ~8-12 – But as this project mentions, and from all that I’ve seen regarding it recently, it seems that it might still be possible.

          I’m pretty sure my vision isn’t crossed or inverted, and I don’t see a double image, but if I focus on something, and cover my dominant eye, the image in the lazy eye is noticable lower in comparison, so it seems I have some vertical alignment issue… as well as all that presumed suppression my brain has applied since I was a kid to filter out a double image.
          I think it’s about time I tried to do something about this issue. :-)

        • billyphuz says:

          So nice to see such informed discussions about VT! I’ve been a vision therapist for ten years, and I’m always excited to see new things happening to help patients in the field.

          On a side note, and why I replied in-line: ‘Fixing My Gaze’ is a great book and is the reason I have a number of my adult patients. I’ve met Sue Barry a few times and she is a delight and very thoughtful.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Yeah i had a lazy eye when i was a kid, treated through patching. I believe i have very mild double vision, though.

      Failed Nvidia’s 3D vision test…however i have no problem seeing in 3D otherwise, even with Nvidia’s glasses on.

      I never knew double vision and lazy eye were related, so that’s new information for me.

  3. daphne says:

    Definitely relevant to my interests, as I do mildly suffer from lazy eye. Thanks for the post!

  4. jealouspirate says:

    As an adult suffering from worsening strabismus (I may need surgery), this is awesome! I am quickly losing my depth perception and if this could help me or others it would be great.

  5. jimangi says:

    I can’t wait till someone makes something that will let me see in 4D.

  6. Bleiz says:

    Any chance that game could screw your eyes even more?

  7. MrPo0py says:

    I’m cross-eyed. And this post has just made me realize exactly why I’ve found this 3D fad so completely mystifying. When I go to the cinema the only reason I wear 3D glasses is to make the picture look normal again. Seriously.

    • grimdanfango says:

      Yep, I’m in the same boat, and it drives me crazy that I’m forced to pay a premium to watch a film with so much of the light filtered out that I have to squint to make out what’s going on. That’s a big issue with 3D regardless, but it’s all the more galling when I don’t even get the benefit of the damned gimmick I’m paying for.
      I think cinemas should offer the standard 2D ticket price to anyone with a doctors’ note confirming them as amblyopic (or with some other optical disorder)

      • Harlander says:

        Couldn’t you just go to the 2D showing? I haven’t been to the cinema in a bit, so they might not be doing concurrent 2D/3D screenings as much any more… which is a shame, because even as someone who the 3D effect works for, it’s usually pretty rubbish

        • grimdanfango says:

          Alas, I usually go with family or friends who think that 3D is awesome, and michael bay films are awesome, and they don’t know what I’m moaning about when I say that everything is too dark to see properly, and that it’s just my stupid opinion.
          After a while of that, I actually researched into it to attempt to *prove* to them that 3D movies are measurably darker… and it turns out I was more right than I thought, to the point where the average 3D movie come in at just above the point where human vision begins to lose the ability to perceive colour, and is the specific reason why Chris Nolan refused to shoot Inception and Batman in 3D.

          But in actual answer to your question – if it’s a film I’m especially interested in, I’ll make a point of going to a separate 2D screening, even though on any typical day, there’s only one 2D screening sometime around lunchtime, while the 3D screenings run about 5 every night.
          It’s just not in cinemas’ interests to promote 2D in any way – the whole point of this “revolution” is to have a legitimate-looking excuse to hike ticket prices through the roof.

          I’m not bitter and angry… really! :-P
          (I may just give up on cinema entirely as soon as 60″+ OLED TVs become affordable, hehe)

  8. Low Life says:

    This is quite cool. I’m lucky in that my crosseyedness is somewhat controllable, so when I’m not tired or drunk, or don’t need to see very precisely (my glasses are optimal for the relaxed crosseyed state) I can still have binocular vision. I’m not sure if this can help me, but I’d certainly give it a go – having to focus on keeping my eyes in place all day can get quite strenuous.

  9. drygear says:

    Is John going to give this a try?

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