From McGill University in Montreal and the Retina Foundation of the Southwest in Dallas is a new video game aimed at improving amblyopia in children: Monster Burners.
Amblyopia affects 2% to 4% of children in the United States. The most common form of treatment is an eye patch, in which patients wear a patch over their strong eye to force the weak one to strengthen. Unfortunately, patches may be uncomfortable and bulky, and do not help the eyes to work together. Because of this, researchers from McGill University and the Retina Foundation of the Southwest explored ways the brain can integrate images from the strong and weak eyes. The result of this exploration was Monster Burners.
The video game is iPad compatible and played while wearing special glasses. Versions are customizable for patients. One test patient used a two-color version of the game, in which the lens for her weaker eye was green and the lens for her stronger eye was red. The red lens prevented her from seeing red images on the screen, whereas the green lens allowed her to see dark images on the screen. These two lenses force the brain to put the information from each together as a complete image.
The game keeps score, which indicates whether a player’s vision is improving. If getting better, the game becomes more difficult with each session. The test patient was prescribed a play time of 1 hour per day, 5 days per week. Hundreds of other children have completed the program and, after 8 weeks (testing every 2 weeks), their vision improved. Specifically, they could see two more lines on a vision chart, which was a better result than previously seen with patch use.
The researchers are now looking to acquire FDA approval for the game, but this may take years.
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