Beacon Transcript – Doctors have been using modern digital devices so as to try and treat lazy eye problems or amblyopia as children were asked to play a game which may actually lead to health improvements.
As studies are being made so as to determine if playing too many games or being too dependent on digital devices may lead to future health problems in our young ones, a team of doctors took a different approach to such digital products.
A team of Ubisoft developers and a McGill University in Montreal’s Doctor Robert Hess have come up with a tablet game app which might help children recover their visual acuity.
The creation of the app and the subsequent testing and study results were published in the JAMA Ophthalmology journal.
Amblyopia or the lazy eye as it may be more commonly known is a problem developed by an eye which features an impaired connection between it and the brain.
Although the affected eye looks and is mostly normal, it is unable to function at its full capacity as its visual acuity is reduced and the brain relies more on the other, better-functioning eye.
The current study set out to compare the results of the usual lazy eye problem treatment to those of the use of the new application.
The application is a simple gold-digging game which starts out quite easy, its difficulty progressing through the levels.
The clinical trial assigned some of the 28 randomly chosen children a 10 hours total of playing the game which was distributed over a two weeks span, with five days a week and one hour a day game time.
As the children, all of which are around 7 years old, played the game, they were asked to wear a special set of glasses which separates the game elements seen by each of the eyes.
This technique should encourage the lazy eye to pick up on high contrast elements and to stop relying on the better functioning one.
Results showed that the children which were assigned the tablet app treatment showed a faster response and recovered their visual acuity more quickly than the children which went through the usual patching treatment.
Besides the faster response time, out of the 13 children which received the binocular or gaming treatment, 5 also reached a better visual acuity rate of 20/32.
Out of the 14 children to go through the patching therapy, only 1 reached the 20/32 increased visual acuity rate.
According to the study researchers, two weeks of game playing saw half the results obtained after a 6 months period of patching, which suggests that it may be a faster, easier and better way of treating amblyopia.
Still, even if the new video game treatment of the lazy eye showed promising results, its author stresses the need for further and longer tests.
As the current study is quite recent and short, a further study will have to be made so as to determine the long-term results of such a treatment and if it maintains its effects.
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