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Pac-man instead of patch: Using video games to improve lazy eye & depth perception



Scientists have created video games that add an important element of fun to the repetitive training needed to improve vision in people -- including adults -- with a lazy eye and poor depth perception.

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The training tools, including a Pac-Man-style "cat and mouse" game and a "search for oddball" game, have produced results in pilot testing: Weak-eye vision improved to 20/20 and 20/50 in two adult research participants with lazy eyes whose vision was 20/25 and 20/63, respectively, before the training began.

Unlike the common use of eye patches on dominant eyes to make lazy eyes stronger, this type of testing uses a "push-pull" method by making both eyes work during the training. Patching is push-only training because the dominant eye remains completely unused.

Lazy eye, or amblyopia, affects an estimated 2 to 3 percent of the population. The childhood disorder results when the neural pathway from one eye to the brain does not develop because the eye is sending blurry and/or incompatible images. This lack of balance in the eyes typically leads to poor depth perception -- and the greater the imbalance is, the more depth perception is impaired.

"In tests of these games, we've seen improvements in depth perception and binocular vision in people with lazy eye. The more abnormal the binocular vision is, the higher the number of training sessions needed.", Said Teng Leng Ooi, professor of optometry at The Ohio State University.

The new computer games improve upon the initial design by ensuring these pathways are adequately stimulated in each eye, and even in lazy eyes caused by an eye turn. The games feature groups of lines with differing orientation, and players wear red-green 3-D glasses that filter the images to each eye. The dominant eye is stimulated with only a full screen of horizontal lines. The weak eye sees bordered disks that contain vertical, horizontal or diagonal lines imposed against a background of those same horizontal lines.

Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by Ohio State University.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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