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25-10-2011 | Physical rehabilitation | Article

Video game use may help improve ‘lazy eye’ in adolescents


Meeting website

MedWire News: Use of video games may help improve the symptoms of "lazy eye" or amblyopia in older children, show study results.

Somen Ghosh, from the Calcutta National Medical College in India who presented the findings at the American Academy of Ophthalmology Annual Meeting, explained that it is generally accepted that if amblyopia is not diagnosed and treated before school age, the condition is difficult if not impossible to correct.

However, the results of the current study contradict this.

Ghosh and colleagues recruited 100 children aged 10-18 years who were divided into four groups of 25 and assigned to different treatments.

All the children were asked to wear glasses that blocked the stronger eye for at least 2 hours a day whilst doing exercises with the weaker eye - a standard treatment for amblyopia.

Group 1 had standard treatment alone, as described above, and acted as controls. Groups 2-4 had standard treatment and, in addition, took antioxidant supplements (group 2), played at least 1 hour of video games (shooting games, car racing) per day using the weaker eye alone (group 3), and took a supplement called citicoline, which increases dopamine receptor densities and is thought to improve focus and mental energy (group 4).

The team found that the best results were seen in patients who took citicoline and those who played video games, with visual acuity improvements of 72% and 64%, respectively, over 2 years of follow-up.

Improvements in visual acuity in the control and antioxidant supplement groups were similar, at 52% and 56%, respectively, over the same period.

In a press statement, a 16-year-old boy, Saurav Sen, who was one of the participants in group 3 said: "Playing the shooting games while using just my weaker eye was hard at first, but after a few months I could win all game levels easily."

He added: "I'm very happy that I stuck with the program. My vision has improved a lot, so that I now have no trouble studying or taking exams. My tennis game also improved, and of course I'm now a pro PC gamer."

In the same statement, Ghosh said that the results of the study offer hope for improvement in older children with amblyopia.

"The cooperation of the patient is very important, maybe even crucial, to successful treatment of amblyopia," he said.

"We should never give up on our patients, even the older children, but instead offer them hope and treatment designed to help them achieve better vision."

By Helen Albert

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