Playing the game Tetris under controlled conditions may be a cure for lazy eye in both children and adults.
Although amblyopia is often known as "lazy eye", the vision impairment is due to abnormal development in visual areas of the brain, not an eye defect.
World-first Tetris experiments were devised by vision scientist Ben Thompson, of the University of Auckland's Centre for Brain Research, in collaboration with a team including Professor Robert Hess, of Montreal's McGill University.
These experiments showed that presenting a higher-intensity Tetris stimulation to the affected eye than the good one helps train both eyes to work together. Different blocks are presented to each eye and the two eyes must work together to play the game.
The team's latest study, published in Current Biology, demonstrated fast improvements in vision after the Tetris treatment, and that the benefits have so far proven to last at least three months.
"We found much larger improvements in patients who were treated with the version of the Tetris game that encouraged both eyes to work together than those that played Tetris with their good eye patched," Dr Thompson says .
Participants in the study were given video goggles to help their eyes work as a team and asked to play Tetris for one hour a day for 10 days.
At the end of the period, their lazy eye showed significant improvement in binocular ability.
Dr Thompson is a co-inventor of the Tetris game-based treatment for amblyopia and holds patents for the treatment regime.
Amblyopia is a disorder of binocular vision and with the way that the brain interprets information as it suppresses or ignores signals to an eye. The treatment is a new way of training both eyes to work together.
It is estimated that one in 50 children has the disorder. It occurs when the brain receives different images from each eye during childhood which can be due to the eyes being misaligned.
- The Dominion Post