Announced at the American Academy of Ophthalmology 2011 Annual Meeting, a new study which was conducted in India may hold the key to correcting amblyopia, commonly called “lazy eye”, in older kids. By adhearing to the prescribed course of treatment, which included playing electronic games coinciding with standard amblyopia treatments, significant results in treating the condition can be achieved.
At the conclusion of the study, Dr. Somen Ghosh was able to report on the various procedures, which allowed roughly a third of the 10 to 18 year olds participating in the study to achieve vast gains towards correcting their vision. Over the course of a year, about 30 of the 100 participants had made great improvements towards their vision while 60 percent claimed some improvment. More gain was reported in participation groups 3 and 4 of the four treatment regimens. Group 3 participated in video game practice daily, while Group 4 was prescribed the supplement citicoline, which is associated with improved brain function. Ultimately, most of the improvements were noted to be more likely in kids under the age of 14 as opposed to those who were 14 years old and beyond.
Despite conventional reasoning being that those kids diagnosed with amblyopia, but not corrected before reaching the age most associated with grade school, it is difficult, if not impossible to correct the child’s vision with notable vision gains. However, the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigation Group (PEDIG), which is based in the US reports significant vision improvements in 27 percent of older kids in a study recently funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI). It was this report that motivated Dr. Ghosh in testing this new approach on young adults to learn what might be the most effective particular course of treatment in the studied age group.
Dividing the group into four courses of treatment, students all followed basic plans requiring them to wear eyeglasses that blocked the stronger eye for at least two hours a day, during which they’d exercise the weaker eye. This technique, known as “patching”, is a standard “lazy eye” treatment that works by forcing the weaker eye to compesate for the lack of vision, thereby serving to make it stronger. Group 1 followed only the most basic plan and served as the control group, while Groups 2 – 4 received additional treatsments described below:
- Group 2 took a supplement that contained micronutrients considered important to good vision
- Group 3 played at least one hour of video games daily using only the weaker eye
- Group 4 took the supplement citicoline, which is associated with improved brain function
Saurav Sen, a 16 year old who participated in the study undertaken by Dr. Ghosh, has finally received an opportunity to relish in having good vision. At 13, Saurav began suffering significant vision issues, which began negatively impacting his academic life. After being told by other doctors it was far too late to correct his vision impairment, Sen participated in Group 3 to correct his amblyopia.
“Playing the shooting games while using just my weaker eye was hard at first, but after a few months I could win all game levels easily,” said Sen. “I’m very happy that I stuck with the program. My vision has improved a lot, so that I now have no trouble studying or taking exams. My tennis game also improved, and of course I’m now a pro PC gamer.”
“The cooperation of the patient is very important, maybe even crucial, to successful treatment of amblyopia,” said Dr. Ghosh. “We should never give up on our patients, even the older children, but instead offer them hope and treatment designed to help them achieve better vision.”