Video Game Therapy For 'Lazy Eye' Gets Cooperation From Kids
Until now, a condition known as 'lazy eye,' or amblyopia, was considered virtually un-reparable after the age of 10. But Dr. Somen Ghosh has used an ingenious and no doubt, immensely fun, treatment for lazy eye - video games - that has shown promise in his test groups.
Amblyopia, which may occur for a variety of reasons in infancy, causes incomplete or unclear images to be sent to the brain from one eye. As the brain is confused by different images coming from each eye, it begins to rely on those it can interpret most easily - those coming from the 'good eye,' while the other eye becomes 'lazy.' If diagnosed and treated early, before the age of 5, lazy eyes can be taught to see normally. But the later a child receives therapy, the lazier the eye gets and, therefore, the more difficult to achieve recovery.
Dr. Ghosh, reporting at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology on October 23, 2011 in Orlando, Florida, shared the results of his study of amblyopia children between the ages of 10 and 18 years. The 100 participants from Dr. Ghosh's eye clinic in India were divided into four groups, all receiving the standard lazy eye treatment of wearing an eye patch over the stronger eye for at least two hours a day, practising exercises that encouraged use of the weaker eye.
Group 1 followed only the standard treatment. Group 2 added micronutrient supplements to their treatment that are considered important to good vision. Group 3 performed one hour of video games using only their weaker eye, plus the standard treatment. And Group 4 added the supplement citicoline, which is associated with improved brain function.
After one year of treatment, 60 percent, or 60 of the 100 participants, showed some improvement. But 30 percent of the children had made significant improvements in vision and most of these children were from Groups 3 and 4. The gains, Dr. Ghosh, noted, were largely made by children 14 and younger, and were more difficult to come by in those children older than 14.
One boy, however, Saurav Sen, was a 16 year old graduate of the video game group. He said that although the games were hard to play with his lazy eye initially, after a few months, he "could win all games easily."
"I'm very happy that I stuck with the program. My vision has improved a lot, so that I now have no trouble studying or taking exams," Sen reported. "My tennis game also improved, and of course I'm now a pro PC gamer."
Cooperation of the patient is critical, of course. And really, what better way to insure cooperation, than to fashion a treatment plan your patients will be eager to follow!