Globe 100

Medicine

To save a child’s sight

David Hunter, REBIScan

MANY PEDIATRICIANS still perform the same kind of eye exam as in the 1950s: Cover one eye and read the chart. But children often can’t - or won’t - tell you if they can’t see clearly.

Yet vision loss can sometimes be prevented with early diagnosis. Pediatric ophthalmologist David Hunter of Children’s Hospital Boston was frustrated when young patients with lazy eye lost vision, because it can be corrected with an eye patch if caught early.

So Hunter, 54, founded a start-up, REBIScan LLC, and last year unveiled the Pediatric Vision Scanner, a handheld device that uses laser technology to scan the retina, and determine where each eye is focused.

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“The condition we are trying to detect - amblyopia - is the number one cause of vision loss,’’ Hunter said. “There has been no highly accurate and automated, simple test to detect this en masse, until now.’’

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The idea goes back almost 20 years, when Hunter, an electrical engineer who attended medical school, got the idea for a new kind of retinal scan.

“As a doctor I can see the problem, and as an engineer I have found the solution,’’ said Hunter. “We can save vision for a generation of children.’’