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R. W. Li, C. Ngo, J. Nguyen, J. Lam, B. Nia, D. Ren, D. Levi; Playing Video Game Improves Visual Acuity and Visual Attention in Adult Amblyopia - A Potentially Useful Tool for Amblyopia Treatment. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2008;49(13):2832.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Recent reports suggest that action video game play can enhance visual functions in normal observers. We speculate that video games have some essential elements for active visual training and thus could potentially be useful in improving amblyopic vision when combining with patching. In this study, we asked how playing action video games affects a variety of visual functions in adult amblyopia.
Seven patients aged 15 to 57 years with (strabismic and/or anisometropic) amblyopia participated in the study. Crowded visual acuity ranged from 20/32 to 20/240 (Snellen acuity). In the training phase, the participants were asked to play a first-person shooter (FPS) video game with the amblyopic eye for 40 hours, 2 hours per day-session, for 4-7 weeks. The fellow sound eye was patched with a black eye patch. A range of visual functions were measured in the pre-training and post-training sessions. These visual tasks included visual acuity, Vernier acuity, stereoacuity, visual counting and attentional blink.
After 40 hours of video game play, our observers showed substantial improvement in visual acuity, on average 30% (1.5 letter-lines on a Lovie-Bailey LogMAR chart, ranged from 0.6 to 2.6 lines), for both crowded acuity and isolated acuity. This is in contrast to no significant isolated-letter acuity improvement reported in normal observers. We also found a 17% improvement in Vernier acuity across all noise levels (ranged from 10% to 40% for zero noise level). Moreover, they demonstrated accompanying enhancements in attentional capacity: 16% in visual counting and 18% in attentional blink (in two out of four observers with a lot of video game experience). Both anisometropic amblyopes also gained some improvement in stereoacuity.
Here we show that playing action video games for a short period of time can improve spatial vision and visual attention in adult amblyopia. In agreement with our recent perceptual learning studies, our present findings suggest that the adult amblyopic brain still reserves some plasticity and is malleable for visual learning. Importantly, video game play could add a useful new clinical strategy for treating amblyopia.
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