How to tackle lazy eye and win? Easy!

Were you ever told your child with lazy eye is too old to have his or her vision improved? If the answer is yes, then someone was either giving you false information or was just not willing to give you enough of their time to really give you the help you deserve!

The reason why such information is circulating is based in outdated studies that negate the ability to improve visual function after the age of 10. These studies originate from the middle of 90s when neurologist Sue Barry conducted a research in which strabismus, lazy eye and other visual problems were declared as developmental problems that cannot be improved later in life if we miss the early developmental stages of child’s life. Interestingly enough – these findings were derived from studying TWO CATS with unaligned eyes. Neither of the cats developed depth perception, but many scientists believe that cats never develop stereo vision or depth perception!

In case of amblyopia or lazy eye one eye has better visual acuity than the other. On top of that, problems with depth perception may occur.  Often kids who are diagnosed with lazy eye are reporting troubles with throwing and catching objects, are generally clumsier or are tripping over objects. Many doctors were giving out information to parents of such kids that there is no chance for their improvement based on the “cat study”!

Latest studies have found completely the opposite! Scientists found that problems with lazy eye, strabismus, convergence insufficiency etc. are neurological first and foremost! As such, they can be tackled even later on: the brain is one of the most adaptable body parts and can be retrained and rewired with right approach, correct stimuli and regular exercises. With these exercises we can teach the brain how to operate both eyes together and create a clear binocular vision!

With these new findings in mind, many specialists started using vision therapy to address these issues. Together with good refraction, regular vision therapy exercises with either an eye patch or glasses with colored filters can provide great results!

Because the vision therapy exercises are often quite dull, a lot of attention is lately given to the gamification of vision therapy: an approach where kids train their vision through engaging games and exercises. It was shown what vision therapy really can offer great results, but it all depends on how consistent we are with going through daily vision therapy routine.

We will touch more this aspect in our next blog, but for now – we are looking forward to receiving your feedback and contributions at info@amblyoplay.com!

Top 5 steps for successful vision therapy

Vision therapy is nowadays regarded as one of the most successful methods of treatment for several vision system dysfunctions, such as lazy eye/amblyopia, accommodation issues, and others.

However, performing vision therapy can be tricky and it can quickly derail the enthusiasm for performing daily or weekly tasks by the young patients. We must take notice of several details and address them in a comprehensive manner.

  1. Determining Patient’s Level

Before we can start with vision therapy we must first understand what is the level at which the patient’s vision is currently performing. A comprehensive eye exam is, therefore, a prerequisite; however, it is not enough. We must both understand where he or she is at, as well as what is the range in which it can still perform well.

  1. Patient’s Frustration Level

If you ever played video games, you know what we are talking about. You finally start getting a grasp on what you have to do when the difficulty level jumps and you start having difficulties progressing. People like to have a feeling of progress and accomplishment, and this desire is especially present with today’s children who are used to instant gratification. For successful vision therapy we must constantly try to push the lazy eye a little bit further every time, but never to the point where a person is just not able to perform anymore and starts feeling frustration, which is in the end counter-productive and may cause patient to stop performing vision therapy altogether.

  1. Use of Positive Reinforcement

When patient is performing their therapy, we must stimulate them further with positive reinforcement. Sometimes an encouragement and a compliment can work magic, while other times we must bribe them with small tokens or rewards. We will talk more about how you can stimulate children to perform their daily therapies in the weeks to come, since this is one of the main elements of gamified methods of vision therapy, such as AmblyoPlay.

  1. Effective Training Level

After we have established the positive reinforcement and the correct level at which therapies are performed, we must find the correct level at which we can continuously enhance the performance through difficulty of the treatment. It is a sweet spot between the patient’s level and their frustration level. Given that therapy is working, one should expect that both levels would increase.

  1. Let Them Understand

This one might as well be put under number one since it is absolutely essential. Patients should be aware of what they should expect. Patients and eye care specialists should establish clear goals (what patient can expect if they perform as instructed) and strategies (how these goals will be achieved) of vision therapy. Only this way patients will clearly know why they have to put themselves through intense daily therapies.

Based on these steps it is clear that one of the possibilities for successful vision therapy could be methods using game mechanics. Game mechanics (or gamification) use precisely these steps: they provide instant rewards for progress, the difficulty is constantly adapted to the current level and it increases constantly (but not linearly to sustain a feeling of improvement for a longer period while avoiding the frustration of hitting difficulty ‘wall’). AmblyoPlay has sprung out as a potential solution precisely because doctors and eye care specialists mentioned lack of motivation for home-based exercises as one of the main issues with lazy eye / amblyopia treatment.

Do you have any other steps you would include in this whole process? What are the issues you face? Let us now at info@amblyoplay.com!