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Christina Gambacorta, Samuel Huang, Indu Vedamurthy, Mor Nahum, Jessica Bayliss, Daphne Bavelier, Dennis Levi; Action Video Games as a Treatment of Amblyopia in Children: A Pilot Study of a novel, child-friendly action game. Journal of Vision 2014;14(10):665. doi: 10.1167/14.10.665.
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Amblyopia is characterized by reduced visual and stereo acuity. Patching or penalization of the nonamblyopic eye is the "gold standard" treatment option for children with amblyopia; however, patching requires ≈ 120 hours per line of acuity (i.e. 0.1 LogMAR), and children do not always comply with this demanding form of treatment. Recent studies (e.g. Li et al., 2011) have shown that playing action video games can lead to improvements in visual and stereo acuity in adults with amblyopia. However, due to the violent nature of these games, they are not suitable for children. Here, we tested the feasibility of a novel, child-friendly game developed using the Unreal Development Kit, specifically designed to provide the therapeutic benefits of action games to children. Training elements of the adult version of the game (Bayliss et al., 2013), including a dichoptic display and gabor patches presented only to the amblyopic eye were maintained, while graphics and sounds were redesigned to be more child-friendly. Seven children, aged 7-13 years old, played the game for 10 hours over the course of several weeks. Visual and stereo acuities were assessed before and after game play. Following training, subjects improved, on average, by 0.11 logMAR, (range 0-0.30 logMAR). This significant change (p<.04) after 10 hours corresponds to a 28% improvement in visual acuity for the amblyopic eye, similar to that achieved by 120 hours of patching. Three of the seven children also improved on a randot stereo test (mean 43", range 20-90"), corresponding to a 48% gain. We conclude that our child-friendly version of an action game shows promise in improving vision in the amblyopic eye. As many children in this age group already play video games, this new therapy could also lead to greater compliance, and therefore larger improvements in visual function than existing treatment options.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2014
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