Researchers use the popular puzzle video game Tetris to treat adult amblyopia or lazy-eye.
By distributing information between the two eyes equally, the video game trains the eyes to work together, which is the opposite of previous treatments for the disorder (e.g. patching).
This study provides direct evidence that forcing both eyes to cooperate, increases the level of plasticity in the brain and allows the amblyopic brain to relearn. The research is published in the prestigious journal Current Biology.
Amblyopia or lazy-eye is the most common cause of visual impairment in childhood, affecting up to 3 out of every 100 children. Caused by poor processing in the brain, the weaker eye is suppressed by the stronger eye. Previously treatments for the disorder have focused largely on covering the stronger eye in order to force the weaker eye to work harder, proved only partially successful in children and have been ineffective in adults.
For adults a study was created that set up conditions that would enable the two eyes to cooperate for the first time in a given task.
The adult human brain has a significant degree of plasticity which provides the basis for treating a range of conditions where vision has been lost as a result of a disrupted period of early visual development in childhood. Researchers examined the potential of treating amblyopic adults using the video game Tetris, which involves connecting different shaped blocks as they fall to the ground.
By using head-mounted video goggles the game was displayed dichoptically, where one eye was allowed to see only the falling objects, and the other eye was allowed to see only the ground plane, resulting in the eyes being forced to work together.
The study used 18 adults with amblyopia. Nine participants played the game monocularly with the weaker eye, while the stronger eye was patched; the other nine played the same game dichoptically, where each eye was allowed to view a separate part of the game. After two weeks, the group playing the dichoptic game showed a dramatic improvement in the vision of the weaker eye as well as in 3-D depth perception. When the monocular patching group, who had showed only a moderate improvement, was switched to the new dichoptic training, the vision of this group also improved dramatically.
The suitability of this treatment in children will be assessed later this year in a clinical trial across North America.
Learn more about this study and read the original article: https://www.healthcanal.com/eyes-vision/37920-lazy-eye-disorder-a-promising-therapeutic-approach.html