The Next Great Game

Ophthalmologists use Tetris to treat ‘lazy eye’ in children


Who said video games are bad for your eyes? Glasgow Caledonian University eye specialists are letting children with lazy eye play a Tetris-style puzzle game to help treat the common visual impairment.

Lazy eye — or amblyopia — is an optic disorder where visual stimulation transmits poorly through the optic nerve to the brain, resulting in blurry vision. It often occurs during early childhood, and affects about one to five percent of the population.

The current treatment is to ask the child to wear a patch over their functioning eye to encourage and exercise the use of their lazy one. But it can take months for any improvements to be shown — plus, what kid wants to wear an eyepatch all day?

In the treatment, which was developed at GCU, children wear a pair of fetching “gaming goggles” and play a specially-designed version of Tetris.

The goggles can show a different image in each screen, so a bright image is sent to the lazy eye and a dim image appears to the normal eye. One eye sees the falling polygonal blocks, and the other eye sees the wall of bricks. It forces the two eyes to work together.

After playing the game for an hour a day, over a period of a week to ten days, early tests have shown an almost immediate improvement. Parents of children with amblyopia reported improvements in reading and school work…

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