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Comparing dichoptic action video game play to patching in adults with amblyopia.

36.436, Sunday, 18-May, 2:45 pm - 6:45 pm, Banyan Breezeway
Session: Development: Amblyopia

Sean Noah3, Jessica Bayliss1, Indu Vedamurthy2, Mor Nahum3, Dennis Levi3, Daphne Bavelier2; 1School of Interactive Games and Media, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, USA, 2Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester, Rochester, USA, 3School of Optometry, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, USA

Adults with amblyopia, a condition characterized by reduced visual acuity (VA) and stereopsis, may benefit from playing action video games with the non-amblyopic eye patched (e.g. Li et al., 2011). However, it is unclear whether these patients can benefit merely from patching of the non-amblyopic eye (i.e. no game), the gold standard for amblyopia treatment in children. We addressed this question by directly contrasting the effects of playing action video games with those of patching. Thirty-two amblyopic adults were assigned to either play 40 hours of a dichoptic action game we developed (‘game group’, n=16; see Bayliss et al., 2013), or watch action movies with the non-amblyopic eye patched (‘patching group’, n=16). Following a two months no-contact period, game group participants crossed over to the patching-plus-movies treatment. VA was assessed at baseline and every 13 hours of game/movies treatment. We found that for the game group, VA improved by 26% on average (26%±3.2; p<.000001), regardless of clinical etiology (anisometropia or strabismus). Surprisingly, anisometropic amblyopes (n=7) in the patching group showed VA improvements comparable to those of the game group (n=7; 32%±4.4; p<.0005), and retained the benefits for at least two months after training. In contrast, strabismic amblyopes in the patching group showed no improvement (.01%±6.8). Game group participants maintained their gains throughout the cross-over period. However, no additional benefits from patching were noted during the cross-over period beyond those gained in the game period, for both anisometropic and strabismic amblyopes. We conclude that a dichoptic action game shows promise as viable treatment for amblyopia, as it improves VA for anisometropic and strabismic adult amblyopes, and the improvements are retained for at least two months following training. Supervised patching, however, is only effective for anisometropic amblyopes.

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