Game helps eye con­nect

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Kids af­flicted with the con­di­tion com­monly known as ‘‘lazy eye’’ will be happy to learn that a video game may pro­vide a cure.

World-first Tetris ex­per­i­ments for treat­ing am­bly­opia, of­ten called lazy eye, in both adults and chil­dren were de­vised by vi­sion sci­en­tist Dr Ben Thomp­son and a team from the Univer­sity of Auck­land’s Cen­tre for Brain Re­search.

With am­bly­opia the im­pair­ment in vi­sion is due to an ab­nor­mal de­vel­op­ment within the vis­ual ar­eas of the brain and not a de­fect in the eye, Dr Thomp­son says.

The ex­per­i­ments show that pre­sent­ing a higher in­ten­sity Tetris stim­u­la­tion to the af­fected eye helps train both eyes to work to­gether.

Par­tic­i­pants were given spe­cial video gog­gles and asked to play Tetris for an hour each day for 10 days.

The team’s study demon­strated fast im­prove­ments in vi­sion af­ter the Tetris treat­ment, which lasted at least three months.

‘‘We found much larger im­prove­ments in pa­tients who were treated with the ver­sion of the Tetris game that en­cour­aged both eyes to work to­gether than those that played Tetris with their eyes patched,’’ Dr Thomp­son says.

Tra­di­tional treat­ment for lazy eye has been to patch the good eye and force the af­flicted eye to work – how­ever, many chil­dren ob­ject to wear­ing an eye patch.

It is es­ti­mated one in 50 chil­dren has lazy eye.

It is caused when the brain re­ceives dif­fer­ent im­ages from each eye dur­ing child­hood – which can be due to the eyes be­ing mis­aligned.

With­out in­ter­ven­tion it can lead to per­ma­nent loss of vi­sion in the weaker eye.

Dr Thomp­son is a coin­ven­tor of the Tetris game-based treat­ment and holds the patent.

He hopes to gain fund­ing for a large clin­i­cal trial that will take up to a year.

Cure? The orig­i­nal Tetris game was re­leased in 1984 and now a ver­sion may pro­vide a cure for peo­ple with lazy eye.

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