Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Restore 3D vision with video games

I’ve never been particularly interested in playing video games. Considering the fact that they can sometimes lead to addiction and/or violence, it actually makes me question whether or not they are best left alone, at least for young children. On the flip side, though, are the potential positives that games can bring to the table.

As it turns out, playing the right video games may actually help you improve brain function, lose weight, and…restore 3D vision for people with a lazy eye? If you had to read that last part twice, you aren’t alone. A study performed at McGill University has found that playing video games with both eyes can dramatically improve vision in adults with lazy eye, which is a condition that was thought to be all but untreatable in adults, according to a CBCNews article.

Lazy eye, also known as amblyopia, is an eye disorder characterized by impaired vision in an eye that otherwise appears normal. This is a condition that is estimated to affect 1% to 5% of the global population. Those with the condition have limited depth perception and hence cannot judge distances as well as people with normal vision.

With the new treatment developed by a team led by Robert Hess, director of the opthalmology research department at McGill and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, vision in the weaker eye of someone with lazy eye drastically improves, and rather quickly. Here’s how they did it:

They chose the game of Tetris, a game that can only be played effectively using both eyes. By splitting the image between eyepieces of head-mounted goggles, one eye sees the falling pieces and the other eye sees pieces already fitted at the bottom of the screen. After playing Tetris for an hour a day for two weeks (that’s a lot of Tetris!), nine adults with lazy eye showed vast improvement in the vision of the weaker eye and in their 3D depth perception.

Rather cool stuff, if you ask me, but I can’t say for certain whether or not I’ll be playing Tetris any time soon.

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