Tetris treat­ment helps with lazy eye

Central Leader - - HEALTH& WELL-BEING -

Play­ing Tetris un­der con­trolled con­di­tions may be a cure for lazy eye in both chil­dren and adults. Al­though am­bly­opia is of­ten known as ‘lazy eye’ the im­pair­ment in vi­sion is due to ab­nor­mal de­vel­op­ment within vis­ual ar­eas of the brain, not a de­fect of the eye.

The world first, Tetris ex­per­i­ments were de­vised by vi­sion sci­en­tist, Dr Ben Thomp­son from The Univer­sity of Auck­land’s Cen­tre for Brain Re­search, in col­la­bor- ation with a team in­clud­ing Pro­fes­sor Robert Hess from McGill Univer­sity. Th­ese ex­per­i­ments showed that pre­sent­ing a higher in­ten­sity Tetris stim­u­la­tion to the af­fected eye, than the good eye, helps train both eyes to work to­gether. Dif­fer­ent blocks are pre­sented to each eye and the two eyes must work to­gether for the game to be played.

The team’s lat­est study pub­lished in ‘ Cur­rent Bi­ol­ogy’, demon­strated fast im­prove­ments in vi­sion af­ter the Tetris treat­ment, and that the ben­e­fits have so far proven to last 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 good eye patched.’’, Dr Thomp­son says .

Par­tic­i­pants in the study were given spe­cial video gog­gles to help their eyes work as a team and asked to play Tetris for one hour a day for 10 days. At the end of the pe­riod, their lazy eye showed sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in binoc­u­lar abil­ity.

Dr Thomp­son is a coin­ven­tor of the Tetris game-based treat­ment for am­bly­opia and holds patents for the treat­ment regime.

Am­bly­opia is a dis­or­der of binoc­u­lar vi­sion and with the way that the brain in­ter­prets in­for­ma­tion as it sup­presses or ig­nores signals to one or other of the eyes. The treat­ment is a new way of train­ing both eyes to work to­gether.

It’s es­ti­mated that one in 50 chil­dren has lazy eye, or am­bly­opia. This con­di­tion oc­curs when the brain re­ceives dif­fer­ent im­ages from each eye dur­ing child­hood which can be due to the eyes be­ing mis­aligned.

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