Who said watching too much television could cause your eyes to go square? Well according to a research project in Glasgow, such statements might be about to be disproved... to a certain extent at least. Children the country and world over will rejoice at the news that a new study regarding amblyopia in the youth of today might well advocate the use of video games as a way of helping to treat and improve the condition for sufferers.
Amblyopia is the medical term for a condition more commonly known as 'lazy eye'. The eye complaint causes a decrease in visual ability in the eye and affects as much as 5% of the worlds population. Often occurring in childhood, the affected eye fails to efficiently transmit visual stimuli through the optic nerve to the brain for a period of time. Long term outcomes can be largely positive, as long as the issue is diagnosed and treated from an early age, preferably before a child turns five. The term amblyopia comes from the Greek for 'blunt vision'.
A recent injection of funds, close to a quarter of a million pounds, has helped the Glasgow Caledonian University to progress their research project in regards helping child sufferers via this gaming method. Candidates for the project will be recruited based upon their reaching a plateau in sight improvement via the normal treatment programme, an eye patch.
The 'guinea pigs' will use a custom designed game from the University of Berkeley, allowing for split screen interaction, to encourage the participant to use both eyes. The hope is that further improvements can be made through this method, particularly for slightly older children, once an eye patch has hit its ceiling level. Previous studies have already been tested using simple block based games for an hour a day over the period of one and a half weeks. This pilot showed that it was feasible to improve visual acuity via this method.