Children’s insatiable love of tablet games has been put to great use by US researchers in treating amblyopia by US researchers.
The action-adventure iPad game requires children to wear special spectacles that regulate the elements of the game seen by each eye. High-contrast elements are seen by the amblyopic eye while low-contrast elements are seen by the other eye, and high-contrast background elements are shown to both eyes.
To successfully play the game, the child must see all these elements. In an early-stage study of 28 children, half were given the iPad game and asked to play for one hour a day, five days a week for a fortnight.
The remaining 14 children were offered the standard patching treatment, in the study published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.
After two weeks, the children who had played the game were found to have the best-corrected visual acuity improvements – double that of the children in the patching group.
This is despite the children spending just 10 hours playing the game in comparison to the children who wore the patch for 28 hours over the same period, Retina Foundation of the Southwest researcher, Dr Krista Kelly highlighted.
She added: “We show that, in just two weeks, visual acuity gain with binocular treatment was half that found with six months of patching, suggesting that binocular treatment may yield faster gains than patching.
“Whether long-term binocular treatment is as effective in remediating amblyopia as patching remains to be investigated.”
Dr Kelly explained that it is hoped that binocular treatments like the game will ultimately have better success than patching at restoring visual acuity and teaching the eyes to work together.