Treatment for lazy eyes has for years focused on patching the good eye to force the brain to use the weaker eye. This does work, particularly when the lazy eye is caught at a young enough age – by 7 or 8 years of age, the visual system is adult like and pretty much fully developed. At this age, patching needs to be done more aggressively, the improvement is often slower, and the result less effective than in a younger person.
Patching forces the brain to pay attention to the lazy eye, but only when the good eye is wearing the patch- as soon as the favoured eye is uncovered, the brain will usually revert to ignoring the lazy eye.
Recently scientists is two centres have found that video games, which have been adapted to show part of the display to one eye and other parts to the other eye are showing a remarkable improvement over traditional methods. For example the Canadian team used a modified Tetris game, where the blocks which had fallen were visible with one eyes, but the falling block was only visible with the other eye- this would require both eyes to work together to have any chance of a decent score.
Any video game type could be adapted – a racing car visible to one eye, the track only visible to the other eye.
These have the advantage of trying to train the brain to use both eyes at the same time, something that may continue after the “therapy” is over, which is not the case with traditional patching.
With early findings such as in these studies, more research is necessary, but there may in the near future be another better treatment for lazy eyes- another study in 2011 found that there was a marked improvement, even in adults with only 40 hours of game time. This study was gaming with patching – perhaps gaming without patching would be more effective.