Dennis Levi, O.D., Ph.D. is Dean of the College of Optometry at U.C. Berkeley. It’s also safe to say that he’s the leading researcher in the world on amblyopia therapy. I wrote an essay for the Journal of Behavioral Optometry that chronicled how I re-connected with Dennis at a Vision Sciences Society meeting, and how this ultimately led to Sue Barry and I joining Dr. Levi at a meeting during which we saw the seeds for this reserach being planted.
Ironically, in the same issue of the JBO, Dr. Jeffrey Cooper published a paper that included a review of his computerized program, Amblyopia iNet, as a support to amblyopia therapy. So clearly we’ve known for some time clinically that an interactive video game-like format can enhance the results of amblyopia therapy. And, as our colleague Dr. Dan Fortenbacher pointed out last year, eye patching alone is no longer the standard of are in optometric vision therapy.
Dr. Ed Melman, a skilled and well-read primary care optometric physician and colleague in New Jersey, called our attention this morning to an article from Levi’s Laboratory that he was excited to share. It’s from the August 2011 issue of PLOS Biology, and is entitled Video-Game Play Induces Plasticity in the Visual System of Adults With Amblyopia. The release from U.C. Berkeley interviewing Dr. Levi and fellow researcher Roger Li can be found here. The significance of this work is not only that active therapy achieves results beyond what passive occlusion accomplishes, but adds to the impressive body of literature regarding residual plasticity in the adult visual system. This is welcome news for adults with amblyopia who are receptive to improving their visual function.
– Leonard J. Press, O.D., FCOVD, FAAO
Another welcome addition to our evidence for active therapy. Thanks Len as always and Ed for pointing this out. In my experience, the key is sustained attention. The study clearly indicates that participants were actively engaged in the video games. This principal of engagement is a driving force in what we try to accomplish every day in the therapy room. We are amazed over and over when certain patients make phenomenal strides in improving vision in Amblyopia or reducing strabismic frequency and magnitude in shorter periods of time than others but it always seems to be the result of the patient taking ownership of their problem and actively engaging in conquering it.
You’re welcome, Bruce, and well said.
Len….I just told all who read, MainosMemos, to come to VisionHelp blog to read this and all your fine posts! You continue to offer the very best information and commentary to your readers.
Dominick M. Maino, OD, MEd, FAAO, FCOVD-A
Professor, Pediatrics/Binocular Vision Illinois Eye Institute/Illinois College of Optometry
Many thanks, Dominick, for the kind words — and for the mention on your great site.
Thanks for posting more good news on adult brain plasticity. I’ll eventually link this post to my blog post about Johnny Depp, who only knows his one eye is “weird” and appears resigned to not seeing 3D. How different the outlook of adults will become when enough light is focused on this subject and adult vision therapy becomes the norm!
However, one trained eye can still catch typos … “eye patching alone is no longer the standard of are in optometric vision therapy.” 😉