What is strabismus?

It's a misalignment of a person's eyes. Strabismus often starts early — in the first couple of years of life. The trouble is, if the eyes are not aligned, then the vision in one may not develop properly, which turns into amblyopia, or 'lazy eye'. Three to four per cent of the population in the developed world are partially sighted in one eye because of it.

Why is it important to treat strabismus early?

The visual cortex of the brain develops rapidly in the first two to three years of life. If strabismus isn't caught before a child goes to school, it becomes increasingly difficult to prevent loss of vision. Strabismus is often not obvious and requires skill in diagnosing it.

Why is new technology to detect strabismus so innovative?

The new technology is a based on a handheld camera but with sophisticated technology inside it. The operator requires little training and simply points it at the patient and takes a couple of photographs. The device produces 14 different measurements giving immediate results. It's quick to use and most children who won't sit still for conventional tests are fine with this one because they are used to having their photos taken. It's currently used by optometrists but, in future, we hope it will be used by the health visitor or GP as a screening device.

Can the technology be used for anything else?

Complex contacts lens fittings. Most disposable lenses are 'off the shelf' but only fit 80 per cent of the population well. This technology automatically informs the optometrist who may require a custom or complex lens, provides a list of lenses to choose from and also helps design optimum multifocal contact lenses.