Doctors Say Playing Tetris Could Cure Eye Ailments

A while ago we saw how action-packed games can help kids with dyslexia. Now videogames have revealed yet another way in which they are a miracle, as a research team led by Dr. Robert Hess from McGill University Health Centre is using the timeless classic Tetris as part of a new treatment for adult amblyopia, more commonly known as "lazy eye".

While previous treatments involved placing a patch over the afflicted eye, this new line of research suggests that forcing both eyes to work together increases the level of plasticity in the brain and allows the amblyyopic brain to relearn. This research is gaining credence in the medical world, even appearing in the prestigious journal, Current Biology.

“The key to improving vision for adults, who currently have no other treatment options, was to set up conditions that would enable the two eyes to cooperate for the first time in a given task,” says Dr. Robert Hess, senior author of the paper and Director of Research Department of Ophthalmology at the RI-MUHC and at McGill University.

“Using head-mounted video goggles we were able to display the game dichoptically, where one eye was allowed to see only the falling objects, and the other eye was allowed to see only the ground plane objects,” explains Dr. Hess, who also serves as director of McGill Vision Research.  “Forcing the eyes to work together, we believed, would improve vision in the lazy eye.”

While the initial research only contained a tiny sample size of 18, all 18 of the participants displayed improvement in their weaker eye after playing the game in this dichoptic manner for only two weeks. Those are the kinds of results that definitely warrent further investigation.

So far this method of treatment has only been practised on adults; its suitability for children will be assessed later on in the year via a clinical trial across North America.

Until then, enjoy getting the tune stuck in your head for the next three days.

Source: McGill University

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