Playing the popular video game Tetris has been found to be an effective way of treating lazy eye, Canadian researchers have reported.
The study, performed by a team of scientists at McGill University, Montreal, discovered that the puzzle game was able to train both eyes to work together.
Consisting of 18 adults, the study found that using Tetris was more effective at treating the condition than the conventional patching method, which sees the good eye covered to make the weak eye work harder.
Published in Current Biology, researchers will trial the treatment on children across North America later this year.
Exploring whether an alternative approach to patching would work, Dr Robert Hess and colleagues used a special pair of video goggles in the study which ensured that both eyes would work together. Nine amblyopic volunteers wore the goggles for an hour a day over the two-week period when playing Tetris.
The head-mounted goggles worked by allowing just one eye to see the falling object, and the other the blocks accumulating on the ground.
As a comparison, a second group of nine volunteers with amblyopia wore similar goggles, but with their good eye covered, they watched the game through their lazy eye only.
At the end of the study, researchers found that those who used both eyes showed more vision improvement than the patched group. They also showed improvement in 3D depth perception.
The comparison ‘patched’ group then played the game with both eyes uncovered, showing ‘dramatically’ improved vision as a result.
Dr Hess believes that the treatment could be a suitable alternative to patching those with lazy eye, especially for adults whom patching tends not to be beneficial.