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Tetris video game may help treat lazy eye

Tetris istock.jpg

An old video game may offer up a new treatment for those with a certain vision problem.

Doctors from McGill University in Montreal found that playing the video game Tetris may help treat those with lazy eyes, BBC News reported.

Known medically as amblyopia, lazy eye is a common condition in children characterized by problems with a child’s vision – even when there are no structural problems with the eye.  According to the National Institutes of Health, amblyopia affects approximately two to three out of every 100 children.

If not treated early, lazy eye can lead to permanent loss of vision in the weak eye.  The current treatment for the condition is to cover the child’s strong eye with a patch – forcing the child to use his or her lazy eye.  Typically the patch is worn for the majority of the day over the course of many months.

Hoping to find a more fun and ideal treatment, Dr. Robert Hess and his colleagues at McGill tested 18 amblyopia patients with a pair of special video goggles that force an individual’s two eyes to work together.

Nine of the participants wore the goggles an hour a day for two weeks while playing the popular game Tetris.  Through the goggles, one eye could only see the falling blocks and the other eye could only see the accumulating blocks on the ground.

The other nine participants wore the goggles as well but had their good eyes covered – forcing them to watch the entire game through their lazy eyes.

By the end of the two-week testing period, the group that had used both of their eyes to play the game showed the most improvement in vision.

"When we get the two eyes working together, we find the vision improves,” Hess told BBC News. "It's much better than patching, much more enjoyable, it's faster and it seems to work better."

Click for more from BBC News.