A new therapeutic approach for lazy eye, also known as amblyopia, uses good old Tetris to train the eyes to work together. This innovative approach to a common eye disorder is a result of research done by Dr. Robert Hess from McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Canada. And yes, you have read correctly: they use a video game to treat an eye disorder. You might also question: “Didn’t video games and other close-up activities, like reading, induce eye problems?” Also sometimes true, but that’s usually nearsightedness, not lazy eye.
In amblyopia, one of the eyes has impaired vision which can lead to suppression of the weak eye. If amblyopia is detected at a young age, the chance to acquire normal vision with both eyes is good. The standard therapy is to correct for the cause of the weaker vision, often done by wearing correct spectacles and patching the stronger eye. However, patching has not been proven very effective in adult amblyopia.
Hess and his team have designed a clever way to force the eyes to work together. By using head-mounted video goggles they displayed the Tetris game dichoptically, in which one eye could see the falling Tetris blocks and the other only the ones already on the ground. To test their therapy, a sample of 18 adults with amblyopia was put through the training. Half of them played the game with the combined information from both eyes, and the other half played the game only with the weak eye, while the stronger eye was patched.
The results were promising, showing a great improvement in vision of the weaker eye, as well as improvement of depth perception in the group that played the game dichoptically. The control group showed only moderate improvement, but after switching to the dichoptical Tetris game, they also improvement greatly. Following these positive results, the treatment will be evaluated in a clinical trial across North America and tested for effectiveness in children.
News release from McGill University Health Centre: Lazy Eye Disorder: a Promising New Therapeutic Approach…