Gaming technology helps children with lazy eye

Glasgow Caledonian University (Glasgow, UK) specialists have used gaming technology to develop a new treatment for one of the most common causes of visual impairment amongst children.

Gaming technology helps children with lazy eye
Gaming technology helps children with lazy eye

Glasgow Caledonian University (Glasgow, UK) eye specialists have used gaming technology to develop a new treatment for one of the most common causes of visual impairment amongst children.

Amblyopia -- more commonly known as lazy eye -- affects three to four out of every 100 people in the general population. Currently, the most frequent treatment involves asking children to wear a patch over the good eye to encourage use of the lazy one.

However, this treatment can take months for any improvements to be shown and has associated problems with children being stigmatized, and not complying with the treatment.

With the new treatment, children wear “gaming goggles” and play a “Tetris-style” video game for an hour a day over a period of a week to ten days. Tests have shown an almost immediate improvement, with parents of the children who took part reporting improvements in their offspring’s reading and school work.

Dr Anita Simmers, alongside postgraduate researcher and optometrist Pamela Knox, began piloting the project in 2010. Dr Simmers has received research funding of over £300,000 from the Scottish Scientist Office and leading eye research charity Fight for Sight. Her team is currently looking to attract new funding to proceed with the next stage of their investigations.

“It was previously thought vision was hard-wired but research has shown we can fine tune and improve functions that were once thought to be lost. Our results suggest that this might provide a supplement to current therapy or possibly an alternative in those whose treatment has failed,” says Dr. Simmers.

“The results are very promising but no two cases of amblyopia are ever the same. To fully demonstrate the potential of this technique for the clinical treatment of amblyopia, large scale, randomized clinical trials are needed to fully explore the validity of this approach.”

-- by Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design

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