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Video Game Therapy Improves Lazy Eye in Adults

Playing video games linked to improvements in visual acuity, 3-D depth perception

THURSDAY, Sept. 1 (HealthDay News) -- In adults with amblyopia, or lazy eye, playing video games can substantially improve visual acuity and 3-D depth perception, according to a study published online Aug. 30 in PLoS Biology.

Roger W. Li, O.D., of the University of California School of Optometry in Berkeley, and colleagues had 20 adult subjects with amblyopia (aged 20 to 60 years) play one of two video games: an action game in which the subjects shot at targets, and a game in which the subjects constructed things. During the two-hour play periods, which totaled 40 hours over a month, the subjects wore a patch over their good eye. Eye performance was evaluated after every 10 hours of gaming. For comparison, some subjects first wore patches over their good eye during daily activities before the video game phase.

The researchers found that, with both video games, the subjects had a 30 percent increase in visual acuity, an average 1.5-line improvement on the standard eye chart. The improvement was approximately five-fold greater than that expected in children with amblyopia undergoing occlusion therapy, for whom it can take 120 hours to see a one-line improvement. The researchers also observed substantial improvement in 3-D depth perception, visual attention, and positional acuity.

"After a brief period of video-game play, a wide range of spatial vision functions improve very rapidly and substantially, reflecting normalization of both low-level (visual acuity, positional acuity) and high-level (spatial attention, stereoacuity) visual processing," the authors write.

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