I once had a strange exchange of words with a very good friend of mine. It went a little something like this:
"Do you smell that?" he asked.
"Yeah, what is it?" I said.
"I dunno, but it smells like eye patch." he replied.
A few minutes later I recovered from my spasmodic-laugh induced paralysis and got up the courage to ask exactly how he knew what eye patch smelled like. Turns out he'd had a bout with a lazy eye as a child and was slightly scarred from the humiliation of wearing an eye patch. I may be taking a little literary license here, but I completely lost it, so the details are a little sketchy.
Thanks to researchers at Nottingham University, an entire generation of lazy-eyed kids may be able to boldly ride Pirates of the Caribbean without fear of suppressed memories being brought to mind. Traditional eye patch therapy requires the patient to cover his strong eye for about 400 hours. This forces the lazy eye to compensate and strengthen, bringing the two in line. That's a long time to be under the patch. This new study has found that by using virtual reality, patients can be cured in a fraction of the time. The concept works by placing the patient in a racing game, but sending a different view of the course to each eye. The lazy eye gets images from the patient's own car while the healthy eye sees the course from the point of view of the other cars in the race. The patient has to navigate the course by reconciling the two sets of images. While these experiments haven't been put through extensive testing yet, the initial results look good:
"We thought we'd develop a system that needed about 400 hours of treatment like patching. In the end we achieved the same effect in an hour," said Dr Eastgate [NU VR Applications Research Team].Hopefully more research can be done into this new treatment. Let's hope that the lowly eye patch can be liberated by September 19th, so that it can be enjoyed by all on International Talk Like A Pirate Day.
Video games tackle 'lazy eye' - BBC