News Article

Weirdness: Tetris May Be An Ideal Cure For Lazy Eye

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Oh medical studies, how we love you

In recent years, particularly with the control and gameplay innovations of the DS / Wii era onwards, we've seen Nintendo systems used for various medical studies and treatments; that's most assuredly a good thing. Often these studies show a refreshing level of creativity along with their obvious scientific merit, such as the use of two Wii Remotes side by side to diagnose a rare eye disorder.

Useful and slightly quirky is therefore the ideal direction for helping people and giving us an "oh, that's cool" moment here at Nintendo Life. The latest example is a Canadian study that suggests playing visually stimulating video games, in this case specifically testing Tetris, can be a good method for improving lazy eye — this is known medically as amblyopia. The condition occurs when vision in one eye doesn't develop properly, and if untreated can lead to a permanent loss of vision in the bad eye. Typical treatment, for adults and children alike, is to wear a patch over the stronger eye for an extended period, which is naturally unpleasant both physically and socially. The team at McGill University, however, simply gave sufferers special goggles that made each eye focus on a different part of the game, ensuring both were active, and found that after two weeks of playing the game for one hour a day patients showed improvement in the weak eye.

It's not just Tetris that could be the answer, but other video games as well, while researcher Dr Robert Hess emphasized that the study shows the problem is solved by treating both eyes.

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

Studies are currently being setup in the UK and elsewhere, and it may not be long before lazy eye sufferers of all ages improve and resolve the symptoms with a bit of regular gaming. An hour of gaming a day keeps the doctor away, we guess.

[via bbc.co.uk]

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User Comments (18)

Serdadu

#6

Serdadu said:

I suffer this lazy eye thing. Treatment with video games? Yeah, I should try :/

Mikau94

#8

Mikau94 said:

I have an issue with the muscles in my eyes so whichever eye I am not focusing with wanders. Recently I have had to close one eye to play video games and read; I am going to need quite a bit of "eye therapy" or surgery to correct this. I hope video games can help a little or work to keep this from getting worse. Even if it does work I probably won't be able to see 3D images.

Lilifish

#9

Lilifish said:

Nice news, but it sounded to me that the main key is using those special goggles and stimulating the eyes, not necessary playing video games. =)

Zombie_Barioth

#10

Zombie_Barioth said:

Interesting, now if only video games could cure nearsightedness.:D
Eye and vision problems are a big pain so its always nice to see helpful tricks for dealing with them.

Snap

#14

Snap said:

My son has Amblyopia and we've been struggling with the patching. However the carrot and allure of video games actually works. He was once 20/400 (legally blind in one eye). After his most recent eye test he is now 20/60. All of this improvement is directly related to playing video games while patching.

I made a short video a few months ago documenting his progress. His favorite carrot is Call of Duty. Given the mechanics of the game, fast movement and necessary hand eye coordination, it's by far the best type of game to play for improving "lazy eye", imo.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbwHsYExpho

DarkKirby

#15

DarkKirby said:

Not the 1st time I've read of this research, but it makes sense. Video games, especially ones with multiple things on the screen you need to pay attention to, exercise your eyes as you need to focus on looking at different things at different places.

BulbasaurusRex

#17

BulbasaurusRex said:

You mean to tell me I could've avoided wearing those uncomfortable and ugly patches for 6 hours a day for a few years as a kid just by playing certain video games? I wish I had known that then. Oh well. The patches worked, and I haven't had the problem for close to 20 years, just the novelty ability to easily cross my eyes on command.

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