A classic arcade game could help adults with lazy eye, according to a small new study.
Researchers from McGill University found that Tetris, a puzzle-type game invented in 1984 that involves matching falling blocks, could help train the eyes of people with adult amblyopia (the scientific name for lazy eye).
Amblyopia occurs when the central vision in one eye isn't developed properly, and can lead to having crossed eyes or near- or far-sightedness, according to the American Optometric Association. Researchers noted that current remedies for treating lazy eye involve covering one eye in order to make the other eye work harder, but this method doesn't always work.
The new study, published in the journal Current Biology, involved 18 adults, all of whom had lazy eye. Researchers had half of the study participants play Tetris with just one eye (the stronger eye was patched). The other half of the participants played the game with both eyes unpatched, but they wore goggles so that "one eye was allowed to see only the falling objects, and the other eye was allowed to see only the ground plane objects," study researcher Dr. Robert Hess, the director of the Research Department of Opthalmology at the University and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, said in a statement. "Forcing the eyes to work together, we believed, would improve vision in the lazy eye."
The study participants played the Tetris game for two weeks, after which researchers found that the study participants who used the goggles to play the game had better depth perception and improved vision of the weaker eye. Meanwhile, the participants who covered up their stronger eye with the patch only experienced some vision improvement. But when researchers had these study participants also try the goggles out, they experienced improved vision and depth perception.
This isn't the first time video games have been fingered as possible lazy eye therapies. Research published last year in the journal Optometry and Vision Science showed the potential use of specially designed video games to provide visual training for people with lazy eye.