Discovering Vision Therapy Blog

Do video games really help lazy eye?

Posted by Greg Mischio

video games

We stumbled onto a new video game which makes the claim that it can help children suffering from amblyopia (lazy eye). 

With its pirate-themed game, the video game Captain Lazy Eye offers kids a fun activity, but it’s really nothing different than any other near point tasks.  The allure is that it will keep kids’ attention:  Besides a fun little pirate eye patch for kids, you’ve got the added dimension of a video game, and we all know what happens to kids when you put a joystick in their hands. 

Why do these video games work with amblyopia?

The big question: Can a child with amblyopia experience improved vision after playing video games?

We would say yes, at least in the short term.  While playing video games, the amblyopic eye has to move when used with an eye patch.  It is being used, and thus its ability to see clearly will likely improve. However, like any treatment that relies solely on patching, nothing is being done about eye-teaming. 

Children and adults who have amblyopia need to use activities that involve both eyes and develop binocular vision. 

A lack of good binocular vision can cause other symptoms, like clumsiness, due to poor depth perception.  Patching alone will not improve this, but vision therapy can improve eye teaming.  It uses special lenses and prisms to get the eyes to team together, which is the critical difference. 

If the eyes don’t learn how to work as a team, eventually they’ll return to their old habits.  The eye that sees more clearly will again become the trusted source for vision from the brain, and the images generated by the “lazy eye” will become suppressed.

Now don’t get us wrong:  We’re happy that people are looking at ways to help amblyopia, and the research into video games is intriguing. We’re just afraid that this news will be received by people suffering from lazy eye as the answer to their problem.  The truth is, it may be just a short-term solution.

Positive long-term gains are far more likely when patching is combined with in-office optometric vision therapy.  Perhaps if a researcher can use a video game in this context, the results might be even more favorable – especially for the long term.

(Photo by ShardsOfBlue)

Free report Lazy Eye:Understanding and Treating AmblyopiaTo learn more, download our Free Report "Lazy Eye: Understanding and Treating Amblyopia." It provides an overview of the condition, links to research, and details on effective treatments.

Topics: Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)