Video game treatment for lazy eye

  • Published

Eye specialists at Glasgow Caledonian University have developed a video game to treat a common sight problem in children.

Children who suffer from a lazy eye, or Amblyopia, can play the game instead of wearing an eye patch.

Tests suggested playing the Tetris-style game resulted in an almost immediate improvement.

Amblyopia is caused by a misalignment in the eyes or one eye focusing better than the other.

The condition affects three or four in every 100 children.

Ten-year-old Calum Stillie found his sight was much better after playing the game for just a week.

He said: "I realised that I wasn't falling over as much.

"I could also read things much easier on the board at school and wasn't making so many mistakes in sums," he said.

Clearer image

The common treatment is to put a patch over the good eye to force the "lazy" eye to work harder but Calum found it annoying.

"Your eyelid sometimes got caught in the eye patch. You had to take it off, shut your eye, and put it back on again," he said.

Children wear special gaming goggles while playing the game for an hour a day for up to 10 days. The goggles feed a clearer image to the lazy eye.

"By forcing, in a way, the child to use both eyes the brain becomes aware of the image in the lazy eye," said the project leader, Dr Anita Simmers.

"It's as if these cells, which were once dormant, have reactivated and regenerated."

The research into the equipment - which is not commercially available - was recently published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science.

"Playing a video game is a lot more fun than wearing an eye patch," said Dr Dolores Conroy, director of research at Fight for Sight which helped fund the research.

"Research on video game therapy for this eye condition is still in its early stages and we hope to see further investigation in this field."