Can movies cure “lazy eye?”

“Lazy Eye”. You probably know what it is. If you do not, here is a picture.

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According to Honor Whiteman of Medical News Today, amblyopia, or as it is commonly known, “lazy eye”, effects 2-3 out of 100 children in the United States. Amblyopia does not allow an eye to focus (Whiteman 2015). If you do not treat it as a child it remains as an adult.

Well, apparently watching films can help cure “lazy eye.”

The most common cure for “lazy eye”, or amblyopia, has been covering the stronger eye with a patch for several weeks to months so the weaker eye would be used (Whiteman 2015). By using this treatment, the parts of the brain that deal with vision develop and so your eyesight is (Whiteman 2015). But a different treatment has been growing in the cure of this disease. This treatment is called dichoptic therapy (Whiteman 2015). Dichoptic therapy gives the two eyes two different images to look at and is combined with tasks or games (Whiteman 2015). However, the downfall of dichoptic therapy is that the tasks the children have to do are extremely mundane and they grow bored from the tasks or find the tasks too difficult (Whiteman 2015). Even though this method may be boring for the children, it has proved to be extremely effecting in curing amblyopia(Whiteman 2015). So finally, how do movies relate to this? Well it’s simple. Scientists believe that watching popular animated movies as a form of dichoptic therapy can replace these boring mundane tasks (Whiteman 2015).

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This is how the children watched the films.

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So, as any scientists would, three scientists constructed an experiment to test their hypothesis. Eight children, aged 4-10, all with “lazy eyes”, watched three dichoptic films each week twice (Whiteman 2015). The children watched these films on a 3D screen and wore 3D glasses (Whiteman 2015). The stronger and weaker eyes of the children were each shown the film. The experiment saw success with every single child.

So does this study prove movies cure “lazy eye” and that we should have all of our children start using this method? Well, not exactly. Well why not?

This is an extremely small experiment. Only eight children were used. I would not quite call this anecdotal, however it is very close to it. This was not a large study. Yes, children saw improvements. But only eight did. There needs to be more children involved in this experiment before I could say it is substantially more concrete than anecdotal evidence.

Additionally, this was also an experimental study, and experimental studies usually do not suffer from confounding variables. However, this case is different. Randomization is needed to avoid confounding variables, but this requires lots of people. Randomizing a small group of people is certainly better than not doing it at all, but it’s not ideal. The reason is because its hard to randomize a small group of people. For example, if you have eight people, sure they will have differences, but many of them will have similarities that will impact the study. When you add more people, randomization works the best because more people leads to less similarities. If I were to do my own experiment, I would keep the experiment pretty much the same. I think the experiment is very well designed. However, the one thing I would change would be the size. I would have ideally at least 100 children participate in this study. 

Eventually I would like this hypothetical experiment to be submitted in a scientific journal for peer review. Scientists would be able to review my work and expose any mistakes I made in my work. If scientists did their own experiment after peer review and found similar results as I did, I would be able to form a meta-analysis. Even the best studies fall victim to chance. However, meta-analysis limits chance as many different studies find the same thing. Once a meta-analysis was done, I would be able to say whether or not this experiment was correct or not.

But is this issue really that important? What’s the risk? Well to find risk you multiply the hazard and the exposure. Well the exposure is 2-3 out of every 100 children in the United States, so the exposure is relatively large. But is the hazard high? I’d say it is very low. You obviously are not going to die from “lazy eye.” Many people have “lazy eye”, including lots of successful people. So while the exposure is high, the hazard is low, and therefore, the risk is low. Unfortunately for parents of kids who suffer from lazy-eye, since the risk is low, I think federal funds should go towards other areas of research. That does not mean more research should not be done, but I believe it should not be government funded. Whether it is government funded or through public funds, I look forward to hearing more about the issue in the future.

1 thought on “Can movies cure “lazy eye?”

  1. Mackenzie French

    I have never heard of this; very interesting blog! I would have never thought that watching TV would actually help cure a lazy eye, when I would of thought it would make things worse. I agree with everything you said about how the experimental study should have been/ should be performed. Like the Tv, I guess video games is another myth for the cure of a lazy eye. Check out this article relating to your idea. They use a study size of 20, which is better than 8 but still not large enough!
    http://news.berkeley.edu/2011/08/31/video-games-help-adult-amblyopia/

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