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A New Ubisoft Video Game May Help Treat Lazy Eye Condition

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Staring at a screen while playing video games doesn't seem like something that would help your vision. However, for those coping with lazy eye, it may just be what the doctor ordered.

Game developer Ubisoft has partnered with medical developer Amblyotech and McGill University in Montreal to create its latest video game Dig Rush. However, this isn't your typical video game. It's actually been designed to help those suffering from lazy eye.

Lazy eye, which is clinically known as amblyopia, can affect one's vision in multiple ways, including turning the position of the eye in or out, blurring vision or a difference in the type of vision in each eye. Between 1 and 5 percent of the population suffers from lazy eye, according to Yahoo! Tech. If it is left untreated, lazy eye is a leading cause of blindness in adults.

In the current version of Dig Rush, players take on the role of miners that have to fill their carts up with gold. During initial testing, researchers have found that patients who played the game for four to six weeks "showed rapid improvement with minimal relapse," according to Yahoo! Tech. The researchers found that 90 percent of the 200 patients in these first tests showed improvement after playing Dig Rush.

Because the game is in red and blue and the players wear 3-D glasses, it forces them to use both eyes. This helps strengthen their ability to see in three dimensions.

The development of this video game comes almost two years after the researchers at McGill published a study in the journal Current Biology that compared the effectiveness of patching, a common form of treatment for lazy eye in which the "good" eye is covered for a period of time in an effort to strengthen the lazy eye, to playing Tetris. The researchers found that the patients playing Tetris had a four-fold improvement in vision in their lazy eye compared to those who used patching.

As with most kinds of medical treatment, Dig Rush can only be played under the supervision of a physician, i.e. it needs to be prescribed. Dig Rush isn't available to play yet, but Amblyotech is currently seeking FDA clearance in the United States, and it will be available worldwide once the regulations have been approved.

Photo: Ahmed Sinan | Flickr

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