Video Game Helps Retrain the Brain in Amblyopia
Adults with amblyopia who played a video game binocularly and under conditions that reduced the visual stimulus to their better-seeing eye showed gains in stereopsis and in visual acuity (VA, logMAR units) in the amblyopic eye. The researchers saw much smaller improvements in participants who played the game monocularly. In an article published in the April 22 issue of Current Biology, an international research group led by Jinrong Li, MD, PhD, from the State Key Laboratory of Ophthalmology, Zhongshan Ophthalmic Centre, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China, reports that after 10 hours of dichoptic training with the video game Tetris, stereopsis improved by a factor of 4 (P = .03); monocular training, in which the participants had 1 eye patched, had little effect. After 8 weeks of training, VA in the amblyopic eyes improved from a mean of 0.51 logMAR (standard deviation [SD], ±0.09) to 0.34 logMAR (SD, ±0.09; P < .001) in the dichoptic group. Monocular play of the game resulted in minimal change in the mean VA, which went from 0.52 logMAR (SD, ±0.09) to 0.48 (SD, ±0.09; P < .05).
@amit-r This explanation of amblyopia's underlying neurobiology challenges the conventional view of amblyopic eyes as "lazy" eyes that must be forced to work, study coauthor Robert F. Hess, DSc, told Medscape Medical News. The study has caught the interest of the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group, which currently is planning a multicenter clinical trial of dichoptic video game playing as a treatment for children with amblyopia. Dr. Hess is helping with the trial design.