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Gaming for better vision

Slovakian researchers use virtual reality headsets to treat amblyopia

A man wearing a virtual reality headset

A Slovakian research team has successfully used virtual reality to treat amblyopia.

In a study published in BMC Ophthalmology, researchers used virtual reality headsets as a form of dichoptic training in 17 patients with anisometropic amblyopia.

Patients used an Oculus Rift headset to play the computer game Vivid Vision. 

They found that the best corrected visual acuity improved significantly in the patients who used virtual reality, with 47% of participants achieving a best corrected visual acuity of 20/40 or better after the training as compared to 30% before the training.

The average best corrected visual acuity in the amblyopic eye improved from a logMAR value of 0.58 ± 0.35 before training to a post-training value of 0.43 ± 0.38.

Dr Juraj Halička, of the UVEA Mediklinik clinic in Slovakia, told OT that patients came to the clinic twice each week to use the virtual reality headsets for between 30 and 60 minutes depending on their age.

Around 300 patients with amblyopia have received treatment for at least a month so far.

Dr Halička highlighted that the response rate to training with virtual reality was around 60% in adults and 85% in children under the age of eight.

He added that 40 patients were trialling a version of the virtual reality game that could be played at home on either a cell phone or personal computer.