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[Interview E04] AmblyoPlay asks their users

Santiago doing vision therapy

In the fourth interview, we talked with Jorge, the father of our four-year-old user Santiago, who has been experiencing amblyopia. They started to treat it with AmblyoPlay, with the support of in-office vision therapy sessions. Everyone, including the eye care professionals, was surprised at the results Santiago achieved! If you have missed previous interviews and would like to read them, check them out here.

How did you find out about AmblyoPlay vision therapy? What made you purchase our solution?

I found about AmblyoPlay in December 2021 when my son needed an intervention to improve his visual acuity due to anisometric amblyopia derived from different optical power between his two eyes. I feel very grateful with the pediatrician who encouraged us to have our son checked by a Pediatric Ophthalmologist in spite of the fact that his eyes looked normal. The Pediatric Ophthalmologist confirmed the diagnosis in 2018 and prescribed glasses, which my son has been wearing happily ever since. After receiving my son’s diagnosis in 2018 and since I work in the healthcare system, I was able to access the latest research on amblyopia and felt very encouraged by literature showing the potential benefits of dichoptic therapy to treat amblyopia, depending on its nature and severity.

In addition, some of the papers I read mentioned that amblyopia is rather a binocular disorder that required a binocular intervention. So, in December 2021 when my son was 4 years old, the Ophthalmologist found that his visual acuity was 20/50 (right eye) and 20/40 (left eye). At that visual acuity, an intervention was needed. The Ophthalmologist and myself discussed my literature findings and he encouraged me to try dichoptic vision therapy first as well as in-office vision therapy for a period of three months. I searched the term “Online Amblyopia Treatment” in the web, and AmblyoPlay showed up in my results. I read most of the website and found it extremely helpful. I watched the online video, read the blog section, and found the gamification approach extremely clever and cute. More importantly, I saw that AmblyoPlay only required two fifteen-minute daily sessions during which children and adults could play a game and receive therapeutic treatment. AmblyoPlay’s approach made sense when I compared it versus the literature I had been reading about Amblyopia. That is when I decided to purchase AmblyoPlay.

Did you take any previous approaches for curing your son’s condition?

No. Dichoptic training was our first choice. The ophthalmologist that I partner with is also well versed in the latest medical interventions to treat Amblyopia. He suggested that we tried dichoptic training first through the use of technology complemented by in-office Vision Therapy.

What is your overall experience with AmblyoPlay vision therapy from the parent’s perspective? Is the process of starting vision therapy straightforward, with sufficient instructions? How about during the therapy, did everything go smoothly?

The process was mostly straightforward using the computer. The only hiccup that I experienced with AmblyoPlay’s setup is that for the initial Vision Acuity Test, I did it backwards. I followed the reversed images on the screen instead of reading the text instructions. When I was helping my son to take the test, I covered his right eye instead of the left eye and vice versa. As a result, the initial right and left eye vision acuity results were mixed up. From then on, I have been doing it correctly.

The therapy has been going well. Since Christmas Day 2021 and up until end of April 2022, my four-year-old son has been playing with AmblyoPlay with me by his side in order to foster motivation and ensure good compliance. He really likes most of the games and feels very proud and motivated by the cute characters. With me by his side, my son has completed 60 hours of training in AmblyoPlay and 10 hours of in-office Vision Therapy! I feel extremely proud of him for such hard work for a young four-year-old boy. AmblyoPlay is a much more convenient and affordable solution than in-office Vision Therapy. With in-office Vision Therapy, I have had to disburse a significant amount of money which fortunately has been partially covered by my health insurance. AmblyoPlay, on the other hand, has been more convenient and affordable as I don’t have to travel anywhere and make a significant financial investment.

Were your expectations regarding the progress and outcomes met?

Since we started, I could see my son’s game performance improving continuously, which showed me that he was seeing better and better through both eyes. We have been doing AmblyoPlay six days a week since 12/25/2021. During my son’s April 2022 visit with the Optometrist in charge of doing his in-office Vision Therapy and the scheduled follow up visit with his Pediatric Ophthalmologist, both found that my son is now seeing 20/20 with both eyes either working together or individually. My son achieved 20/20 with his stronger left eye with no effort. My son’s right eye has a significant diopter difference versus his left eye and in spite of this difference and with additional effort, he was able to see 20/20 in April 2022 (two pediatric optotypes or figures). In short, his left eye went from 20/40 in December 2021 to 20/20 in April 2022 (no significant effort), whereas his right eye advanced from 20/50 to 20/20 in the same period (with effort)!

In addition, his stereoacuity, or his ability to perceive depth, improved significantly. My son now plays soccer, tracks, and catches balls normally. Both his Optometrist and especially his Pediatric Ophthalmologist were impressed with the progress achieved by my son. His Ophthalmologist wanted to know more about AmblyoPlay during the visit, asking about cost and treatment mechanics. He suggested that we continued with AmblyoPlay while the Optometrist suggested to continue with 12 additional sessions of in-office Vision Therapy. I have to give credit to AmblyoPlay primarily for these outcomes.

Santiago performing AmblyoPlay vision therapy

What about motivation? Was it hard to motivate your child to continue with vision therapy or is AmblyoPlay engaging enough without the need for additional incentives?

Since we received the instruction to obtain Vision Therapy in 2021 and considering that I also had undetected Amblyopia since childhood, I decided to become my son’s best advocate, motivating and helping him through the process. My son truly enjoys and loves the fact that I have been sitting and sharing his achievements with him. He feels very proud every time he obtains the needed gems to purchase items for the cute characters. All these hours that I have spent with him have made me appreciate and respect him even more as I have seen his effort, enjoyment and even normal tiredness as the process unfolds.

I have to say the in terms of motivation, my son loves doing games 1, 3, and 5 but has come to dislike games 2 and 4 in each training session (for those unfamiliar with AmblyoPlay, each training is comprised of five games). Since he is so young (four years old), he does not see the point to track figures that split. It has become harder for me to motivate him to complete these two games now that he has spent 60 hours playing. My son has been asking me to pass his opinion to AmblyoPlay which I have and hope that these two games can be modified in the near future.

In addition, my son feels great motivation whenever he discovers changes to the interface or the addition of new games. For example, he loved the Easter-themed changes that were recently applied to the interface. I hope AmblyoPlay continues doing theme-based changes throughout the year. Lastly, I have to say that it is extremely important for parents to create a routine for AmblyoPlay in order to sustain engagement, motivation and compliance with young children. We play fifteen minutes in the morning (before going to work) and fifteen minutes in the evening (prior to dinner time). During weekends, we vary the morning schedule but stick to the afternoon routine. We have been playing six days a week (Sundays off). Now and based on the number of hours already played (60) and the good results achieved in April 2022, we will play five days a week as suggested by AmblyoPlay.

Do you think that motivation is an important aspect for children to perform vision therapy? Do you feel that AmblyoPlay, in its form, increases compliance in the vision therapy process?

Motivation is absolutely essential to perform vision therapy. AmblyoPlay’s design has increased our son’s desire to play the games, and observe the needed compliance to achieve therapeutic results. As mentioned above, my son prefers the active games rather than the passive ones where he has to observe the figures splitting into two.

What was your child’s favorite game to play (in case he had one)? How did he find AmblyoPlay from your point of view?

My son’s absolute favorite game is “Cross the Road” He loves getting as far as he can and gets very excited when he can cross the train tracks or get onto the boats to cross the river. He has developed strategies to observe the trains come and go and knows exactly when to cross the tracks. For me it has been extremely enjoyable to see his laughter and sense of pride when he manages to do this and other games well.

We are always open to any suggestions and comments, so we would really appreciate your feedback.

First, I want to congratulate the AmblyoPlay Team for developing this solution that I wish had been available for me to treat my own Amblyopia during my childhood. Second, please place strong emphasis on the gamification portion ensuring that you continuously update the interface, and games, modifying those that are the least liked as reported by users. Thank you AmblyoPlay!

We would like to thank Jorge for taking the time to share his son’s experience, which we believe could help someone reading this interview! We invite you, our community, to share your experience with AmblyoPlay. If you are interested for an interview, we would invite you to send an email to [email protected]. Furthermore, we are available at this address for any questions related to this topic.