Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Review: Little Eye Doctor - app about a visit to the eye doctor

Purpose of App: A game where kids practice visiting the eye doctor.

Strengths: Goes through procedures common to visiting the eye doctor

Weaknesses: Does not explain any of the procedures. If incorrect answer is given, the correct response is not shown. Very rudimentary coloring page at the end.

Suggested Audience: Young children who are curious about visiting the eye doctor for the first time.

Star Rating Breakdown
Meets Intended Goal: 2
Entertainment: 2
Worth the Price: 3
Ease of Use: 3
Educational Value: 2
Level of Customization: 1

If you would like to download Little Eye Doctor (FREE, iPad/iPhone), please show your support by using our link:

** Please note: This app has in-app purchases, but they can easily be disabled in the settings of your device. There are also ads and social network links in this app.

Only the app's developer can control when an app is free or not. This app was verified to be free at the time of this post. We make no guarantees otherwise.**

Ads in banner at top and occasional pop up
In App purchases to unlock extra graphics to choose from
Links to share pictures via email and social media

My daughter is needing to go to the eye doctor for the first time and is a little nervous. I thought a game which introduced the steps in a fun way could help her understand and prepare. The purpose listed for Little Eye Doctor, though a bit unclear, seems to be a game for someone needing an eye exam or wanting to be an eye doctor. In the free version, a child picks one of two characters and performs various vision tests.

There are procedures within the games in which the child must select the correct answer from multiple choices. If the correct answer is chosen, the progress bar along the side increases. If the incorrect answer is chosen, an X is displayed over the wrong answer and the progress bar still increases. The correct answer is never shown and the child is not offered another chance to try to answer correctly. In a typical eye exam, 2nd chances are not typically given -- you can either see something or you can't. However, for a children's app, it could help them learn to know what the correct answer was. Simply putting an X over the incorrect response as well as a green circle around the correct answer could be helpful.

After each procedure, a report is displayed listing the results for each of the 7 procedures. The number of wrong answers lowers the exam report from Done -> Good  -> Normal. Getting all the answers wrong still results in a "Normal" grade. Using the terms "Pass" for done and something along the lines of "Vision Questionable" might be better choices than "Done" and "Normal." I am not aware of many eye doctors that would classify getting every part of a test wrong as "Normal."

Only two of the seven procedures seem to offer results other than "Done." The other 5 procedures are always rated "Done." There is no time penalty or deductions for any of those five sections. It is merely rated on completion, and the child can't advance to the next procedure until it is complete. This really loses the purpose of it being a game. There is no way to lose. There is no way to improve or "win" for the majority of the game. Perhaps if there was a timer or the ability to earn a score, the child would try harder. Also, if the child could "unlock" certain extras like stickers or eye colors with high scores, they might be more interested in continuing to play.

Though this is a game, and not listed as an educational app, it would still be nice to have some sort of explanation of each step. When checking visual acuity, a blurry eye chart is shown with 8 different lenses lined up on the side of the screen. Simple instructions should be given asking the child to pick which lens makes the picture clear. Also, it would greatly increase the educational value of the game if the different parts of the equipment were labeled, as well as the name of the procedure. Currently, the procedure's name is only listed on the exam report. There is no spoken language and very minimum written instructions in any part of the app.

This is just a total personal grievance, but I am not fond of the fact that it is mandatory for every child to get glasses at the end. Even upon completing every step correctly, the child has to pick out glasses. Also, all the glasses are actually sunglasses. Both these issues caused much confusion for my daughter. Again, it is just a game, but they could offer a "none" option when picking out glasses as well as glasses that are for seeing and not all sunglasses.

Upon completing the seven parts of the eye exam and picking out glasses (4 out of 16 glasses unlocked in free version), the child is given the opportunity to color and add stickers to the patient and her new glasses. The problem is, all the coloring is done over the picture erasing any lines or details below. There are many different color options as well as the ability to change the size of the coloring line. However, instead of adding accents or filling in "coloring book style," the child just draws a picture on top. My 7 year old daughter's attempt at adding makeup to the character left her frustrated and disappointed.

The reason why I gave a FREE app 3 stars for "worth the price" breaks down to the fact that I really don't think the in-app purchases are worth the added content. Charging $2.99 to unlock 2 more patients, $1.99 for 12 new glasses and some different colored eyes, which can barely be seen behind the glasses, is really high. Even the reduced price of $3.99 to unlock all of that at once is too much. At most, I would pay $0.99 for all the features to be unlocked.  For $3.99, I would like some added functionality and not just graphic extras.

For a free game, it's not totally bad. The steps are all relevant to an eye exam. However, after playing once or twice, there isn't much more to get out of it. The pictures are cute and for the most part I do believe my daughter got a general idea of an eye exam.

Do you have an app or book you would recommend to help with kids facing their first trip to the eye doctor?

Rachel H. doesn't currently need to wear glasses; although those days may be numbered.

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