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iPad Games Could Be the Future Lazy Eye Treatment

November 9, 2016

Eileen E. Birch, Ph.D., Director of the Crystal Charity Ball Pediatric Vision Laboratory at the Retina Foundation of the Southwest, was invited by Yasmin Bradfield, M.D. to speak in the Emerging Technology session of the Pediatric Ophthalmology Subspecialty Day program at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) meeting in Chicago. The Emerging Technology session was composed of a diverse group of technologies including Dr. Birch’s binocular iPad games and movies for lazy eye.

Dr. Birch presented our study on treating children with lazy eye (amblyopia) with a binocular iPad adventure game called Dig Rush. Children participating in the iPad study wear 3D glasses that allow selected display to each eye while playing the game for several hours a week for two to eight weeks. During the course of treatment, the child’s brain learns to combine the images presented to each eye to stimulate binocular vision, and this reduces suppression of the lazy eye and promotes visual recovery.

Lazy eye affects about 5% of children in the US, which means there is often at least one child in every classroom with lazy eye. Lazy eye is a visual impairment where there is one eye that is weaker than the other eye. Recent research in the Crystal Charity Ball Pediatric Vision Laboratory has also found that lazy eye can impact the child’s reading, causing them to read more slowly than children with clear vision. It also interferes with their development of fine motor skills. This study with iPad games as an alternative to patching the stronger eye could help change the standard of care for children with lazy eye. Preliminary results of this study show that the treatment leads to improvement in visual acuity because it allows the two eyes to work together and is a more engaging and fun way for children to correct their vision.

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