Remember when playing Tetris helped adults with amblyopia (aka lazy eye)? Well now Sony Computer Entertainment Europe and the University of Nottingham have teamed up to prove that once again, computer games are the answer. Developing original games based on popular PS3 titles, SCEE is creating content for the "I-BiT" system, which will help children overcome their condition in the most fun way possible.
The I-BiT system presents the game to children in a unique way. The children will wear 3-D "shutter glasses" while playing, and the system will present the game background to the good eye and active content to the afflicted eye, resulting in the patient seeing one, complete image. Much like the Tetris approach, this means that both eyes are actively involved and communicating with each other in order to play the games.
Dr Alex Foss, Consultant Opthalmic surgeon at the Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham and the leader of the project is enthusiastic about the system, saying “The current technique of patching up the good eye isn’t very effective, and children also dislike it, which means they are reluctant to comply, further reducing the levels of success."
“However, in cases that have so far been treated using the I-BiT system, a marked improvement has been seen after only a few half-hour sessions.”
Simon Benson, Senior Development Manager at SCEE, stated that “Sony Computer Entertainment Europe is proud to be involved with helping to develop the I-BiT product with The University of Nottingham. The new PlayStation® based solution will actually make it enjoyable for children to undergo treatment.
“We are looking forward to continuing our work with the I-BiT Team and helping them make a product which will help to improve the eyesight of hundreds of thousands of young children in Europe.”
Clinical trials of the device, funded by the Wellcome Trust, is currently in progress. Depending on its success, a more integrated system for commercial use will be made available throughout opticians outlats, hospital eye clinics and perhaps even within our own homes.
The Tetris tests, combined with this data, all paints a promising tale so far, and it might soon be that amblyopia is just one more of life's problems that can be solved with computer games.
Source: University of Nottingham
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