Treating “lazy eye” with Tetris

Canadian researchers have identified an unexpected treatment option for adults with amblyopia, or “lazy eye.” A recent study has found the popular video game Tetris to improve vision for those suffering from the condition.

According to researchers, the trick was figuring out a way to get the fully functioning eye to coordinate and work in conjunction with the weaker eye. Forcing them to sync up and complement one another is key. It turns out that when slightly manipulated, Tetris does just that.

How Tetris can impact lazy eye

The object of the puzzle-like game is to rearrange falling shapes to fit together at the base of the screen. Researchers from McGill University and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre used head-mounted video goggles to split the screen so that one eye could only see the falling shapes, while the other could only see the ground. Researchers report that the approach dramatically improved vision.

They tested the theory on 18 adults with amblyopia. Nine played Tetris while wearing the goggles. The remaining nine played the game with an eye patch over the stronger eye, forcing the weaker eye to compensate. While these participants did show some improvement in vision, it paled in comparison to the other group. According to McGill University, patching the stronger eye is a partially successful technique for children. Unfortunately, that success has not translated to adults, who have fewer treatment options.

Lazy eye is a vision disorder caused by a lack of development of central vision in one eye, according to the American Optometric Association. It is often associated with crossed eyes and typically comes about before age 6.

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