Slovak clinic treats lazy eye with virtual reality game

SPH Brightcove Video
The condition called 'lazy eye' has long been considered untreatable in adults, but a clinic in Slovakia says a treatment does exist, and it's simple as child's play - literally.

MARTIN, Slovakia (Reuters) - Treating lazy eye can be as fun as playing a game, literally.

Optic doctor Anders Rustand Holm, says: "This method works on you putting on goggles which shows virtual reality. You have a 3D vision in 100 per cent of your visual field. By applying this you put on a special game where you have a spaceship and you have to follow the spaceship through certain markers and by doing that you have to use both eyes and therefore you are training both eyes to cooperate, to work better together. By doing this you are training your lazy eye to be better and therefore your visual activity will improve."

Lazy eye, or amblyopia, typically occurs in far-sighted patients when the brain shuts down data coming from the eye with less clear vision and uses only the healthy eye.

People with lazy eye typically do not have three-dimensional vision.

Now the UVEA clinic in Martin, in northern Slovakia, is testing a treatment that uses a pair of virtual reality goggles and a computer game to shake the lazy eye out of its torpor.

The usual treatment has been using an eye patch on the stronger eye, forcing the lazy eye to take over.

But it works best on patients younger than six or seven, and most people are first diagnosed when they enter school, when it might be too late.

The UVEA clinic has treated some 300 patients since 2015.

Patient Patrik Turek says: "I was told that my condition is untreatable. I've been in this treatment for a month and my vision has already improved by one line in the eye chart."

The clinic was the first in the world to publish clinical trial results of the treatment in June.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.