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Diagnostic device looks to correct kids' eyes young

A new portable device is designed to help pediatricians and family practitioners detect children's vision problems early with a quick, non-invasive eye exam.

A new portable device lets doctors conduct a quick, non-invasive pediatric eye exam--and hopefully detect vision problems early.

The PediaVision Assessment Solution (PAS), scheduled to be demonstrated at the American Academy of Pediatrics meeting in Boston this week, uses an infrared camera to take digital images of the eye in children as young as six months. The screener consists of a small, handheld unit; a printer; and a laptop with preinstalled software.

Basically, the PAS projects an infrared light through the pupil onto the retina from a distance of 3 feet (good for shy kids who don't like people up in their faces). Depending on the refractive problem, the reflected light forms a specific brightness pattern within the pupil. The administering doctor then gets a digital printout of the results in about five seconds.

PVS in action

Florida-based PediaVision--which was founded by a team of optometrists and ophthalmologists--says the device can be used by non-vision specialists to detect conditions including near-sightedness, far-sightedness, blurred vision, and irregularly shaped corneas or lenses.

The company's CEO, David Melnik, says the PAS aims to provide the pediatricians and family practitioners who are the gatekeepers of children's health with a simple and accurate way to catch vision problems early, when they are most curable.

"Parents look to their pediatrician for early health assessments and trust their physician to thoroughly evaluate and identify any problems from birth," said Melnik, adding that pediatricians now have an easy-to-use tool for early vision assessment.

The idea here is that young children with vision problems often don't know they see the world differently than others. That, along with the fact that vision problems generally don't cause physical pain, means that many kids' vision issues often go undetected.

We'll be curious to see what docs have to say about the device once they give it a try.