Game helps eye connect
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.