Parlaying Design Skills into Something More
Designing a Better Future
Alex Damarjian, a Ph.D. candidate, had experience creating games for children. When he was connected with an ophthalmologist, he designed something that could have a much bigger impact.Alex Damarjian (Ph.D. Technology and Humanities Candidate)
Alex Damarjian has spent his professional career working on games benefitting young children, but he had an urge to do more.
So he developed a low-cost, cutting-edge testing tool for pediatric ophthalmologists using a platform familiar to many kids: the Nintendo 3DS. The testing program, named PDI Check, allows ophthalmologists to test for visual acuity, stereo vision or depth perception, and color blindness. He began developing the tool as his thesis project at Illinois Tech.
Ophthalmologist Bob Arnold worked with partner optometrist Kyle Smith to guide Damarjian’s programming of PDI Check. He says PDI check is revolutionary in that it is cheaper and easier to use for both doctor and patient.
Currently, most pediatric ophthalmologists use a series of cards and eye patches to diagnose vision issues in young children. PDI Check utilizes more accurate eye-tracking technology, and doctors can analyze the footage afterward.
“Careful screening of near vision takes time, and some children do not like patching an eye to ensure visual acuity in the other eye or wearing goggles to test stereo,” Arnold says. “PDI Check allows us to screen kids without needing patches or goggles, and it does so in about half the time.”