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Games Science

Play Tetris To Fix Your Lazy Eye 88

Posted by Soulskill
from the requires-omnidirectional-eyetreadmill dept.
MightyMait writes "A study from a team at McGill University has found Tetris to be a good treatment for lazy eye. 'Armed with a special pair of video goggles they set up an experiment that would make both eyes work as a team. Nine volunteers with amblyopia were asked to wear the goggles for an hour a day over the next two weeks while playing Tetris, the falling building block video game. The goggles allowed one eye to see only the falling objects, while the other eye could see only the blocks that accumulate on the ground in the game. For comparison, another group of nine volunteers with amblyopia wore similar goggles but had their good eye covered, and watched the whole game through only their lazy eye. At the end of the two weeks, the group who used both eyes had more improvement in their vision than the patched group (abstract).' As someone born with crossed-eyes who underwent surgery as an infant and has lived with a lazy eye his whole life (without 3-D vision), the prospect of fixing my vision by playing Tetris is an enticing one."
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Play Tetris To Fix Your Lazy Eye

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @01:12AM (#43533607)

    "Tetris, the falling building block video game.", oh so that's what it's called? Never heard the name before. Not even once.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It is better that one obvious term be explained, than a hundred non-obvious terms go unremarked.

  • Great! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @01:20AM (#43533633)
    That's great! Now if only Starcraft could cure the anxiety I feel when being around women...
  • If I'm reading this correctly, it's performing the same function as corrective lenses - forcing one eye to work harder than the other.

    As a child, I wore corrective lenses for almost 10 years, and like most children who wore glasses at a very young age, I had to work hard to make friends.

    If a doctor had told my parents that "NO, he HAS to play videogames to fix his eyes", I'm not sure I'd ever have left the house and made other friends ... Prescription or no, I think I still drove everyone crazy with Korobeiniki [youtube.com].
    • by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @03:58AM (#43534193)

      I cured my own lazy eye, in spite of being told repeatedly that it wasn't possible, and it wasn't through corrective lenses. Video games did play a major role however.

      Basically I did my own research about what the cause is (one eye being worse than the other, so the brain learning over time to suppress the double input and only pay attention to the remainder) and what treatments did work for kids. They however said this couldn't be done with older people.

      But, I took my own initiative anyways. I used something similar to a patch method where I basically just covered my good eye for a few weeks while watching TV and - you guessed it - video games. This resulted in double vision since I stopped suppressing the partial vision in my worse eye which was corrected with a prism (and my optometrist told me how bad of an idea this was, etc, which later I was told that his advice was wrong.) In addition, during this process I developed the eye in ways it hadn't before (namely, fine motor motion that was previously just ignored.)

      After a long period of wearing the prism, I slowly learned how to read with both eyes. Or rather, how one eye leads the other eye - nobody taught me that, I just had to learn it on my own.

      Later on down the line I found a competent doctor who said he could treat my double vision, and did so with an excruciatingly painful surgery (morphine couldn't cure my headaches.)

      5 years later, I was able to eventually get it so that I would rarely if ever see double, no prism required. Every optometrist I've seen since then tells me that I never had a lazy eye. It's not true though because my medical records up until I was 21 say otherwise, rather they haven't seen anybody who was able to correct it in the way I have.

      There's still one issue that I had to correct since then, namely being able to diverge the eyes on demand, which solves a range of other problems (such as not having double vision while laying down.) It was tricky to figure out how to train my brain how to do that, but once I did the results were good. Here's the gist of it:

      Go find one of those "magic eye" cards where you try to see a 3d object by diverging your eyes (if you were around in the 90's, you might recall these as those annoying books that people used to faddishly carry around,) only use the simpler ones with more easily recognizable patterns. Something like this would do:

      http://www.eyetricks.com/3dstereo83.htm [eyetricks.com]

      Try to diverge your eyes so that two of those lizards become one. It is very difficult at first. A good trick is to have this picture displaying on a glossy (or at least somewhat reflective) monitor, and then put a light very far in front of your monitor so that it is behind you. Then position it so that it glares off of the screen, and each instance of that glare you see in your two eyes covers two of those lizards. Then simply focus your vision back and forth from that lightbulb, eventually getting rid of the lightbulb. Eventually you'll want to get to the point where you can cup your hands between your eyes so that your fingers guide each one to the lizards. Go from one lizard apart to two lizards apart, then three, then four.

      This should take you about a week to do pretty well. Once that happens, you'll easily be able to master diverging your eyes proper at any angle you look at something.

      Use different stereograms if you have to, just make sure they have that distinctive object in them rather than a bunch of small otherwise indistinguishable dots.

      Personally, I still am unable to spot the 3d objects in those, but neither can a lot of people with perfect eyesight, so don't sweat it. However they still make good divergence training tools.

      • by shentino (1139071)

        If you ever wonder how it works, you may notice that they are always repeating vertical patterns with disruptions in them.

        Those "deltas" are what cause you to see them in 3D, and they exploit the same parallax-detecting mechanism used for depth perception.

      • by Jmc23 (2353706)
        Same here. No prisms or surgery, just meditation and building awareness of what my eyes were doing.

        A method that has existed for over 100 years is to have a string with a few different coloured beads attached strung between an object (door handle) and your hand. Traverse the string with your eyes making each bead come into focus.

        It's rather sad, but a major fact of capitalism, that the whole eye industry has nothing to do with actually 'correcting' your vision. The whole industry could be wiped out wi

      • by operagost (62405)
        My father has suffered from double vision since having a brain tumor removed. Being in his 60s, I doubt he'd be a good candidate for the "painful surgery" you're talking about, but I'm hoping your experience with the magic eye pictures and prism will help.
      • Thanks for the tips! I'll have to try some of them. I've long suspected that there must be a way to overcome this (though I've adapted fairly well).
    • by Qzukk (229616)

      it's performing the same function as corrective lenses - forcing one eye to work harder than the other.

      You aren't reading it correctly (maybe your eyesight is bad ;)

      One eye sees the falling blocks while the other eye sees the blocks at the bottom, the goal is to force the eyes to work together.

  • As someone who wore that damned patch for years at school and paid the social price of being different because of it, I am really happy to hear this. An hour every evening at home in front of a video game would have been so much better in so many ways. Hopefully people will also be able to avoid that surgery that can leave people just as messed up with the eye going the other way.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    You still have 3D / depth perception with a single eye, you just don't have stereoscopic vision.

    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      No. You really don't. If you're brain has learned to see in '3d' because you grew up with two functioning eyes, then when you cover one eye your brain can use some of the algorithms it's learned to generate '3d'. With one eye you never develop those and you can't see '3d'. It's even hard to distinguish objects, depending on your field of view. With only one functioning eye the world is a painting with wildly changing boundaries that seem to defy logic and roads that always lead upwards.

      So glad that's o

      • In fact picking up some cues let you experience a better 3d effect with one eye rather than looking at the flat screen with both eyes. At least for me, an immersive videogame like a FPS becomes more 3d-like with one eye closed. I suspect that tricking your eye like that is not a good idea for a prolonged time. Looking at the crosshair for a prolonged time is equally bad, worse than following a mouse cursor around a screen.

        • by Jmc23 (2353706)
          Yeah, I tend to do that for better effect, though i don't close the eye. I've spent so much of my life not seeing 3d objects it's pretty simple to switch of with both eyes still working. By turning off stereoscopy you can ignore the 3d of everything around the screen and then just use cues from the screen to create 3d. Much easier to do with games and tv than movies though.
  • by wisebabo (638845) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @02:13AM (#43533835) Journal

    Seeing as this was only a university study (and not a company project), I'm afraid that they'll publish a few papers, get their citations then move on to other things with only a prototype developed and no plans to sell it (sorry but I'm not a do-it-yourselfer and probably wouldn't want to try putting one together by myself even if the plans/source code were freely available).

    So, maybe, could an Oculus Rift developer come up with this or an equivalent program? Even if the rights to Tetris are unavailable, I'm sure a similar game could be devised that would provide the same functionality (less the annoying soundtrack! ;)

    Or does the Oculus Rift API only take in a high level 3D scene description and independently render the two, slightly dissimilar viewpoints? I assume not but, if so, perhaps they could be prevailed upon to add some new APIs.

    It would be nice to be able to see in 3D. I might actually be able to play some ball sports (ping pong, tennis, football) with some proficiency.

    • It would be nice to be able to see in 3D. I might actually be able to play some ball sports (ping pong, tennis, football) with some proficiency.

      I have strabismus - drove my parents crazy because I wouldn't keep that patch on, had the so-called corrective surgery at 14, have lived without stereo vision my entire life. I was still reasonably good at sports - judging distance wasn't a huge problem.

      I guess some of us somehow compensate better than others?

      • by Techman83 (949264)
        Surgery tends to only be really succesful when under 5 years of age. I had mine when I was 6/7 and cosmetically it's a lot better, however I struggle with depth perception constantly. Something which has gotten worse as I've gotten older. I guess it depends on the person and the severity.
        • Worked on me at 20.

          http://games.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3679275&cid=43534193 [slashdot.org]

          Though it takes work on your own to fix it. It's not as if you just get the surgery and the problem is gone, you have to be proactive at making sure you make a habit of looking at objects correctly for quite a while, because if you just retain your old habits then the surgery won't do anything at all.

          Unfortunately the surgeons don't emphasize this well enough to most patients, probably because they don't know as they've nev

          • by Techman83 (949264)
            Cool, after some research it sounds like there is hope yet. I think a rift solution would be far easier for me to achieve as I really have a hard time with repetitive boring tasks. Repitive entertaining tasks (ie Tetris) seem to not pose the same issue.

            Justification for a Rift purchase found, now to fund it and get on the development learning curve!
            • Rift might actually be good for that, I'm not sure. I remember about this time I was first into stereoscopic gaming with using Asus's 3d shutter glasses on my first geforce card. I didn't use it that much because it was really hack(ish) in that a lot of games either didn't work at all, or worked but had numerous problems. In fact, I can't think of any games that didn't exhibit any problems.

              I think it did serve a therapeutic purpose, I'm just not sure to what extent because I didn't do it for very long.

          • Well, everyone is different. Beyond that there are a number of different conditions that people often confuse under the term "lazy eye". True Amblyopia is different from divergence, and they won't necessarily respond to the same treatments. What I have is a basic divergence, which is pretty common, except for some reason mine only developed when I was in high school. Basically I was advised that as long as my vision worked and I didn't suffer any overt visual problems (aside from the loss of depth perceptio

            • by Jmc23 (2353706)
              Here's something to think about. Each eye is responsible for looking at a different side of the world. Each of your brains is responsible for processing different aspects of the world. What is it that you're ignoring or being ignorant of?
              • Meh, the whole "left brain/right brain" thing is pretty heavily overblown. There are subtle differences, but probably not super drastic. It would be interesting to study various forms of vision defects WRT cognition though.

                • by Jmc23 (2353706)
                  Don't speculate, test. If you had adequate control over both eyes and sufficient control to shift awareness between the two, you would know. The fact that you think there is negligible difference shows that you lack sufficient awareness of what your eyes are doing.

                  If you think it's overblown, watch the ted talk 'stroke of insight'. I pretty much grew up that way until i started being able to control my other side.

                • Actually there are quite big differences between your left and right hemispheres. I'm highly left hemisphere dominant due to a medical condition, and it shows because compared to a lot people I am very logical, aspiritual, and skeptical. This isn't zodiac or tarot nonsense, it is scientifically proven.

                  • Oh, not that I believe what GP is saying by the way, my comments only relate to left vs right brain.

                    • I think if you peruse the literature on the subject, NOT the popular literature, you will find that the evidence for this 'logical left brain' is actually non-existent. I'm not saying you're not logical etc, but it isn't ESPECIALLY because of being left brained. To a large extent the actual scientific evidence shows each hemisphere performing largely the same functions in mostly the same way. Its an interesting topic, but in the process of popularizing neuroscience the science press has, as usual, vastly ov

              • I've wondered myself if there was some cosmic significance to my eye condition (is it called "amblyopia" or "strabismus", I never took the time to learn the technical term?). It's pretty "woo-woo", but I wonder if learning to see "correctly" might fix some defects in my personality.
                • by Jmc23 (2353706)
                  I can't give you scientific proof (because it's never been tested before) just anecdotal. I used to be an INTJ aspie. Awareness of how I was using my eyes and learning to use them properly led to a huge shift for me. I no longer have problems interacting with strangers physically or verbally. Crowds are not a problem, no longer have a fear of heights. No longer trip or get disoriented. Have 3d vision, can recognize faces and people as constant 3d objects instead of ever shifting 2d patterns.

                  I now scor

                • The difference between amblyopia and strabismus is pretty subtle...even after reading the wiki pages it is not very clear. My understanding is that amblyopia is when one eye is neurally impaired (i.e., in the brain, not a physical defect), where as strabismus is when the eyes are physically misaligned (cross-eyed or wall-eyed in lay terms). Both are called "lazy eye" and are closely related. I've had strabismus surgery, but according to the surgeon I did not have amblyopia because my problem was due to a

          • by Jmc23 (2353706)
            Or you could be proactive before the surgery and not need it. They don't tell you that either. Doctors like to cut.
            • Before the surgery it was basically impossible for me to see long distances without seeing double. No, I'm confident that the surgery played a critical role.

      • by laron (102608)

        I can echo that. Despite strabismus, I'm reasonably good at judging distances in archery and fencing.

        • Archery isn't very dependent upon both eyes as far as I can tell. Fencing probably, but not archery.

          Your depth perception is only useful at somewhat close distances as far as I'm aware, say 30 feet or less, and I think even that is pushing it. I could be wrong on that number, but that's just the way parallax works - your eyes would have to be further apart to be more effective at judging depth at longer distances.

          • Yeah, I agree. In fact much beyond 5 feet I don't think there's much difference. Out to arms length its a serious factor, now and then I misjudge something. The only time it matters really any past 5 feet is fast moving objects. I can't play any sort of ball sport at all really, though I have excellent aim I can't catch all that well. Playing tennis would be a sad joke.

            The other thing that I would note is that poor lighting conditions are treacherous. In moonlight or thereabouts the world becomes nothing bu

          • by jeffmeden (135043)

            Archery isn't very dependent upon both eyes as far as I can tell. Fencing probably, but not archery.

            Your depth perception is only useful at somewhat close distances as far as I'm aware, say 30 feet or less, and I think even that is pushing it. I could be wrong on that number, but that's just the way parallax works - your eyes would have to be further apart to be more effective at judging depth at longer distances.

            Depth perception is one thing that two eyes accomplish, the other thing is generally increasing fidelity (since details that each eye picks up are combined) which can be very beneficial for precise activities at long distances. For example, I have amblyopia and have no problem driving (assessing distance/speed of something 5 feet wide/tall is easy even at 100' away) but i will be damned if I can play tennis/pingpong with any efficiency, even after practicing a fair amount.

            • It has been suggested that in some amblyopes the extra-striate cortex that handles motion processing develops in an unusual fashion. There are some papers from the same lab that made the Tetris game in the article that investigate this.
          • by Jmc23 (2353706)
            Depth perception through stereoscopy is not the same as flat depth perception provided by parallax. Depth perception through stereoscopy is useful over great distances and is what can make you a great golfer as you perfectly model the terrain in your brain.
      • I've been a half-way decent basketball player without stereo vision since a basketball is fairly large and I could judge depth by the relative size of the rim of the basket. However, I never could hit a baseball with any consistency. Maybe it was just lack of practice, but it seemed like it was difficulty judging distance.
        • When I was young and in shape I could hit a baseball pretty well. Where I think it really affected me was those sorts of situations that are hard even for someone with perfect sight, such as playing the outfield and a line drive is coming right at you. That's a tough play for someone with excellent depth perception; for me, it was generally the precursor to E-9.

    • by Dare (18856)

      I suffer from this, and I'm thinking maybe I'm just going to load up Tetris on a two-display mirrored setup, make something out of cardboard so that each eye can only see one of the displays, then use paper to cover relevant part of each screen. Might work.

      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        I suffer from this, and I'm thinking maybe I'm just going to load up Tetris on a two-display mirrored setup, make something out of cardboard so that each eye can only see one of the displays, then use paper to cover relevant part of each screen. Might work.

        Interesting idea. You could get a bit of polarizing sheeting (from a science supply store or similar) and rig up some glasses that have perpendicular polarization. Then, if the screens happen to be polarized the same way just rotate one 90 degrees and rotate the image via the PC (not sure if software mirroring will still be an option). I am brainstorming ways to do this as well, it would be great if a 3d monitor could be rigged to show two desktops to each eye, then its just a matter of coming up with an

      • I don't see how it could work with cardboard cut-outs. The point is to see the falling blocks with one eye, and the gaps to guide them into with the other. The gaps move up the screen as you fill them, with a constantly changing profile.

        Surely you could find an open source Tetris clone, and hack the software to display the different parts on the different screens.

    • by Techman83 (949264)
      This. Over the years my depth perception has dropped off, if there was some way I could fix it then I would be a very happy individual. I think I found my justification for a rift dev kit (hopefully once they get past the kick starter they'll still sell the kits).
    • Unless my understanding is wrong, personally I don't think this would cure lazy eye, rather it is just one step in the process. Yes, it does teach you to use both eyes at the same time (in the same vein as being able to walk and chew gum) but it doesn't do anything to force you to use both eyes towards a common task, or rather working on processing the same object. In this case, the eyes are seeing two different objects, so I'm not sure how that would help in this regard.

      I think it would go a long ways towa

    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      Seeing as this was only a university study (and not a company project), I'm afraid that they'll publish a few papers, get their citations then move on to other things with only a prototype developed and no plans to sell it (sorry but I'm not a do-it-yourselfer and probably wouldn't want to try putting one together by myself even if the plans/source code were freely available).

      So, maybe, could an Oculus Rift developer come up with this or an equivalent program? Even if the rights to Tetris are unavailable, I'm sure a similar game could be devised that would provide the same functionality (less the annoying soundtrack! ;)

      Or does the Oculus Rift API only take in a high level 3D scene description and independently render the two, slightly dissimilar viewpoints? I assume not but, if so, perhaps they could be prevailed upon to add some new APIs.

      It would be nice to be able to see in 3D. I might actually be able to play some ball sports (ping pong, tennis, football) with some proficiency.

      From the description in the study, all you really need is a way to send two different video signals to your eyes. Oculus Rift sounds cool but it is for VR/immersive type gaming which is beyond what is even needed. The technique for the tetris "Game" they describe could be done with nothing more than a 3d capable display and set of active/passive glasses (something they sell at every electronics store) and all you would need is a game designed to send completely different information to each eye, instead o

    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      3d vision is awesome. There are several things you can do while using awareness to correct your eyes.

      Eye exercises. Move your lazy eye around in the socket, bringing awareness to the motion. While being aware of the motion, are you aware of what the eye is seeing? Use this exercise to differentiate between total range of motion of the eye, and effective range of the eye in terms of sight (we need overlapping FOV's for stereo).

      Use beads on a string to help with convergence.

      Use smooth back and forth

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      So, maybe, could an Oculus Rift developer come up with this or an equivalent program? Even if the rights to Tetris are unavailable, I'm sure a similar game could be devised that would provide the same functionality (less the annoying soundtrack! ;)

      The story is about an effect which occurs with regular tetris which already exists. Nothing has to be created. Just play Tetris, on any device.

  • Unfortunately most of the Tetris games available today are of far less quality compared to the original 1988 Tengen Tetris [vizzed.com].
  • Computer games do nothing to cure your lazy butt.
  • Botox (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Colourspace (563895) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @03:47AM (#43534165)
    I played PLENTY of Tetris over the years and it did nothing for my lazy eye (right eye went inwards as child -> corrective surgery -> now goes out). What has worked is a 6 monthly botox injection (free, thank you NHS) into the appropriate eye muscle at Moorfields eye hospital in London. I could still elect for corrective surgery but they try you out with Botox first to see if you are likely to develop double vision, in which case the surgery would then have to be reversed. I understand the treatment was started in the UK by a Moorfields eye doctor some 30 years ago when he smuggled some botox back from San Franscisco..? To be honest I'm surprised more people don't know about this treatment - Russell Howard (UK comedian) bitches about his lazy eye all the time - get yourself down to Moorfields and have a student doctor poke a needle in your eye muscle and stir it round for two minutes.. Lovely stuff! Captcha: Unseen
    • Why do you have a captcha if you're logged in?

      • After I tried to post I realised I wasn't logged in, so the text about the captcha remained after. Cheers, Richard
  • Based upon the unbelievable number of posters that flock to complain that they can't see 3D every time some subject concerning 3D movies, games or headsets comes up, I predict this topic will have comments all out of proportion to it's nominal interest. I don't know whether people with certain vision defects end up as coders, or if perhaps too much coding amplifies some congenital issue, but I do suspect it is much higher than the 2% cited in the article. I eagerly await the explosion of interest and hope
  • One of my eyes has a lazier focus than the other. Being a nerd and reading books and screens all day, I noticed from the age of about 17 that my distance vision starts to get a bit fuzzy unless I get outside and look at distant objects, and that this is more pronounced in one eye than the other.

    3D films help with the difference between the eyes, because you have to focus both eyes correctly for the effect to work ; it's not like the real world where a slightly fuzzy object seems to be acceptable to your bra

  • Two groups of 9 volunteers?

    How difficult can it be to get people who are willing to play video games for an hour a day over 2 weeks?

  • Marty Feldman is smiling from his grave.

  • From the article I think its not just a matter of playing Tetris - you need to have one eye watching the falling blocks and the other eye watching the blocks at the base of the screen - and I guess they are doing either via a headset or a split monitor display or something - not that clear from the article itself. So there is a little bit more to this than just playing tetris. I suffer from lazy eye myself and I have always been very skeptical on opticians assurances that it can only be corrected in childre

    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      The part that you're missing is that it builds awareness of what your lazy eye is seeing. You can consciously do this in everyday life without a gimmicky setup.

      Something to be aware of, each eye, being an extension of the different hemispheres, sees and interprets the world differently. You must change the way you consciously view the world to physically view the world properly.

  • Tetris is cool and all, but it's boring after so long...

    What if you took the "one eye doing this, other eye doing that" idea and applied it to a shooter 3D game, maybe with the player's gun/weapon/body and projectiles assigned to one eye, and the world/environment/etc assigned to the other eye (?) .

    With regard to the various discussions of corrective therapy for eyeballs, what about astigmatism? Are there any good ways to correct that defect? I would like to ditch my glasses, and I only have astigmati

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