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Published September 11, 2019

Amblyopia is often referred to as lazy eye, and it entails weaker vision in one eye due to a poor connection between the eye and the brain. It is a deficit in vision that arises from abnormal visual experience early in life. It was long thought to develop into a permanent deficit, unless properly treated before the end of the sensitive period for visual recovery. Until recently it was thought to be untreatable in adults, but new researches have proven that with consistent therapy even adults can improve their Amblyopia  at least partially recover visual acuity and stereopsis, especially through video games.

According to a study at the University of Berkeley, video games can help the treatment of lazy eyes in adults. The results of the study were published in August 2011 on the website of PLOS Biology. The researchers wanted to see if playing video games and exposure to the richer variety of details they provide could lead to visual improvements for patients with lazy eye similar to those seen with the more mundane visual tasks. They recruited 20 volunteers with amblyopia, ages 16 to 60 — half of them had strabismic amblyopia, which is marked by misaligned or crossed eyes; six had anisometropic amblyopia, in which the two eyes have significantly different prescriptions; another three had both conditions; and one volunteer had amblyopia caused by cataracts in one eye.

Boy Playing Game On Mobile

In the first experiment, 10 volunteers spent 20 two-hour sessions playing an action video game — "Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault," a first-person shooter game. In a second experiment, three other volunteers spent the same amount of time playing a non-action video game, "SimCity Societies," which required players to build things. As all the volunteers played the games, they wore a patch over their good eye.

Both action and non-action games yielded a 30 percent increase in visual acuity, or an average improvement of 1.5 lines on the standard letter chart used by optometrists. In comparison, it can take 120 hours of eye-patch therapy to see a one-line improvement on the letter chart in children with amblyopia. Performance was measured after every 10 hours of gaming, and some volunteers started improving earlier than 40 hours. Anisometropic volunteers also saw a 50 percent improvement in 3-D depth perception after 40 hours of playing video games. On the other hand some researchers found that even 45 minutes of therapy leads to improvement in visual acuity.

To check if these results were due to use of the eye patch instead of games, the scientists conducted a third experiment in which seven volunteers wore a patch over their good eye for 20 hours during normal daily activities such as watching television, reading books and surfing the Internet. In the end, they showed no improvement on vision tests. These volunteers were then asked to wear a patch while playing video games for 40 hours, and afterward they showed the same level of improvement as the volunteers in the other experiments.

To sum up, if you have lazy eye problem, you can simply patch the eye which has no lazy eye  problem, and play the video game to improve your vision acuity. There is no potential side effects and no risk. At the end of the day, you will have fun at least.

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