Lehigh Valley

Lehigh students use virtual reality to diagnose glaucoma

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Glaucoma affects more than 3 million people in the United States, but half of those people don't know they have the disease that can lead to blindness.

"As we did some market research we saw there was a huge population in the United States that is underserved that don't even have access to these exams," said Lehigh University senior John St. Pierre.

The machine ophthalmologists currently use to test people for Glaucoma is big, bulky and isn't easy to transport.

"There hasn't been any innovation in this field for the past 30 or 40 years. The gold standard was invented that long ago," said project mentor Gordon Campbell.

Students at Lehigh University wanted to change that, so over the last year they created software that just might alter the industry.

"It's humbling and exciting to see what the future of this type of technology can do," said Dr. Avani Shah, ophthalmologist.

Shah helped the Lehigh University students come up with the concept.

"We have earlier diagnosis, earlier treatment and less people going blind from this condition," she said.

The students say they had one major goal in mind.

"Definitely one of the highlights was to make sure it was portable to get access to those people in rural areas," St. Pierre said.

With the students' new software, patients would be tested for glaucoma by wearing a virtual reality headset.

"If someone has vision loss in their eye it's going to hopefully tell a doctor where that is so a doctor can interpret those results in order to diagnose," said Lehigh University senior Alli Rubin.

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