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Computer game promises cure for lazy eye: researchers

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-04-29 17:40

WELLINGTON - A popular computer game may hold the secret to curing lazy eye -- and possible blindness -- in both children and adults, New Zealand scientists announced Monday.

The world-first experiments to cure amblyopia by playing Tetris, the game that requires skillful construction of different colored blocks, were devised at the University of Auckland's Center for Brain Research, in collaboration with a team from Canada's McGill University.

"Although amblyopia is often known as 'lazy eye' the impairment in vision is due to abnormal development within visual areas of the brain, not a defect of the eye," Dr. Ben Thompson, of Auckland University, said in a statement.

The study showed that patients could use both eyes at the same time, if the images to the lazy eye were more visible than those to the good eye.

The higher intensity Tetris stimulation to the affected eye helped train both eyes to work together if they played for an hour a day for 10 days.

The effects had been shown to last for up to three months so far.

"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," said Thompson.

A disorder of binocular vision and with the way that the brain interprets information as it suppresses or ignores signals to one or other of the eyes, amblyopia can lead to permanent loss of vision in the weaker eye if left untreated.

An estimated one in 50 children have amblyopia, and the traditional treatment was to patch the good eye to force the lazy eye to work.

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