Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is the most common visual impairment in kids. It’s long been defined as a condition that affects just one eye, occurring when the brain favours one, which causes the other to weaken.
But recent research has revealed that this definition may need to be revised. By studying kids with the disorder, Dr. Deborah Giaschi, an investigator at BC Children’s Hospital, discovered that both eyes appear to be affected. And beyond impacting a child’s ability to see clearly, it’s affecting their reading ability, hand-eye coordination and depth perception—all of which aren’t currently assessed by physicians.
Though in its early days, this research may change how the disorder is treated. That’s because the standard treatment for lazy eye—placing a patch over the strong eye to train the affected eye to work harder—doesn’t address the other areas that are impacted. And it’s why Dr. Giaschi is also exploring an innovative new treatment that taps into the power of video games. While wearing virtual reality goggles, kids play games that use both high or low contrast images, which require both eyes to work together in order to play successfully.
“More work needs to be done, but the hope is that when a child is diagnosed with lazy eye, we’ll be able to see who should be treated with patching—and who has these other things going on and could benefit from playing games.”
—Dr. Deborah Giaschi, BC Children's Hospital