Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Playing Tetris May Help Fix Lazy Eye

According to a recent article in BBC News, Canadian doctors say they have found an incentive way to treat lazy eye – playing the video game, Tetris. In a small study with 18 adults, playing Tetris worked more efficiently than conventional patching which tries to make the weaker eye work harder. Playing the video game is   more effective because it trains both eyes to work together.

Doctors hope that playing Tetris helps both children and adults improve their lazy eye, or amblyopia. Amblyopia is an eye disorder where one eye’s vision is impaired due to a developmental issue.  Most often, it results when a child has crossed eyes or eyes that don’t line up. A condition which begins in childhood, one in every fifty children are affected by amblyopia, and if not treated can cause lifelong vision loss in the problem eye.  

Dr. Robert Hess and his colleagues in Montreal conducted the study with two groups of nine adults who have amblyopia. The first group played Tetris everyday for one hour for a period of two weeks. The second group played Tetris for the same period of time, but used the traditional “patch method” where they put a patch over their good eye. The first group’s vision improved significantly due to both eyes working together. In fact, when the second group finished and repeated the study without their good eye covered, their vision also improved drastically.

In response to the results of the study, Hess commented "When we get the two eyes working together, we find the vision improves.”  Commenting on other amblyopia studies, he said most doctors think patching helps the weaker eye improve, but actually it makes the weak eye worse. With the positive outcomes of the study, the doctors who conducted the study said any number of video games could work besides Tetris. 

Though this is a very small sample size, this study does prove to be interesting for further studies.

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