University of Nottingham scientists and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe have teamed up on a research project aimed at treating amblyopia or lazy eye in children. The research uses specially designed 3D glasses and video games, more exactly specially adapted PlayStation 3 titles.
It is hoped that this innovative treatment will be able to improve the condition, which currently affects about 3 percent of all children. Lazy eye is traditionally treated by covering the good eye with a patch for hundreds of hours. This technique however is not very effective and its chances to be successful are further reduced by the fact children don’t like it and are reluctant to put up with it.
The project, called I-BiT, is based on an idea developed by a Queen’s Medical Centre consultant eye surgeon, Stephen Haworth, and the research is conducted by a team put together by the University of Nottingham and the Nottingham University Hospital Trust.
With the help of software engineers from Sony, the team is now looking into developing special games aimed at treating lazy eye. Sony has already agreed to adapt some of its PlayStation 3 titles in order to provide customized games for the I-BiT system.
The idea behind the treatment is that the customized games will engage patients’ both eyes. During the course of treatment, children suffering from amblyopia will have to play the games while wearing the specially designed 3D shutter glasses. The games are adapted so as to present the background to the good eye and the active content to the eye affected by the condition. The patient however sees only one, combined image.
Researchers say this new method has already proven to be more effective than the eye-patching, a considerable improvement being reported by the patients only after a few sessions. A clinical trial program for the new technology is already under way. The research team is also looking at ways to develop this technology for commercialization, so that it is available though eye clinics, opticians and possibly even for home use.
[Image via ScienceOrSTFU]