Video games may be able to treat "lazy eye" in older children

Posted by David Gomez

A recent study has concluded that symptoms of amblyopia or "lazy eye" can be alleviated in older children by following a regimen which includes playing video games alongside standard treatment.

According to Dr. Somen Ghosh, the above-mentioned treatment allowed almost a third of his subjects - between 10 and 18 years old - to make noticeable vision improvements.

When the year long study had ended, nearly 30 percent of the 100 participants achieved significant vision gains. Around 60 percent showed at least some improvement.
    
Significant improvements were more probable in children who took part in two primary treatment options: daily video game practice and taking the supplement citicoline, which is linked to improved brain function.

Previously, it was believed that if amblyopia was nearly impossible to correct if not diagnosed and corrected by a very early age.

However, the United States-based Pediatric Eye Disease Investigation Group (PEDIG) recently reported significant vision repairs in 27 percent of older children in a study financed by the National Eye Institute. The new research prompted Ghosh to experiment with new approaches to learn what might be most effectiv in treating amblyopia in older children.
    
His research was split into four treatment groups. Students in all groups maintained a basic treatment plan and wore eyeglasses that covered the stronger eye for a minimum of two hours a day, which is when they practiced exercises with the weaker eye.
    
The technique, known as "patching," is a standard amblyopia treatment that works by making the weaker eye work harder. Group one followed only the basic plan and served as the control group, groups two, three and four received additional treatments:

•    Group 2 took a supplement that contained micronutrients considered important to good vision.

•    Group 3 played at least one hour of video games daily using only the weaker eye.

•    Group 4 took the supplement citicoline, which is associated with improved brain function.
    
Saurav Sen, a 16-year-old graduate of Dr. Ghosh's clinic, was given a second chance to attain good vision. At 13 Sen started having serious vision problems, which took a toll on his school work. In the past, doctors told him it was too late to fix his amblyopia. He finished the regimen given to treatment Group 3.
    
"Playing the shooting games while using just my weaker eye was hard at first, but after a few months I could win all game levels easily," said Sen.
    
"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. My tennis game also improved, and of course I'm now a pro PC gamer."
    
"The cooperation of the patient is very important, maybe even crucial, to successful treatment of amblyopia," said Dr. Ghosh.
    
"We should never give up on our patients, even the older children, but instead offer them hope and treatment designed to help them achieve better vision."