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Treating Lazy Eye In Children: iPad Game Found Effective As Treatment For Common Eye Condition

Researchers have found that a special type of iPad game is more effective at treating lazy eye, or amblyopia, in children compared to traditional patching treatment.

Treating Lazy Eye In Children

As the primary cause of monocular visual impairment in children, lazy eye affects 3 percent of kids in the U.S. The condition has been traditionally considered as a monocular disorder treatable via patching the opposite eye. Patching treatment forces the usage of the lazy eye but it is not guaranteed that 20/20 vision will restored or that the eyes will be taught to function together.

Lazy eye develops due to binocular discordance so binocular treatments result in better vision outcomes. It is not clear, however, if binocular treatments are comparable to patching when it comes to treating amblyopia.

Binocular Game Treatment For Lazy Eye

For a study published in the journal JAMA Opthalmology, researchers worked with 28 children, 14 of which were randomly assigned to binocular game treatment while the other 14 were given patching treatment. Those assigned to the binocular game treatment group were made to wear specialized glasses that aided in separating elements from the iPad game seen by the eyes. For gameplay to be considered successful, both of the eyes must have been able to spot their respective components.

Binocular game treatment was prescribed to be played an hour each day, five days a week for two weeks, leading to a total of 10 hours. Within the same period, children from the patching group received 28 hours of treatment.

The researchers reported improvement in best-corrected visual acuity for the lazy eye after the second week, with results even better than patching treatment. Specifically, 39 percent of the binocular game treatment group achieved 20/32 vision or better while just 7 percent from the patching group got the same results.

When children from the patching group employed binocular game treatment after the initial two weeks, it resulted in the children achieving the same results that the binocular game treatment group enjoyed earlier in the study. Both the original binocular game treatment group and the patching group went on to use the iPad game for another two weeks.

“We show that in just 2 weeks, visual acuity gain with binocular treatment [was comparable] to 6 months of patching, suggesting that binocular treatment may yield faster gains than patching,” said the researchers.

They are looking into further studying binocular game treatment to determine whether or not its long-term use will be as effective as patching in treating amblyopia.

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