Amblyopia is thought to affect up to 2.5 per cent of people and accounts for around 90 per cent of all children’s eye appointments in the UK. Occlusion therapy — patching the normal eye for lengthy periods to ‘train’ the affected eye — is the main treatment for amblyopia. However, this method can be distressing to children, is unpopular with parents and can adversely effect educational development. This type of therapy has been used in various forms since 1743 and has long been considered to only be effective up until late childhood.
The new treatments developed in the Visual Neuroscience Group in the University’s School of Psychology have not only reduced potential treatment times by an unprecedented amount, they have also proved that it is possible to treat amblyopia in adults. Early results suggest gains, that would have required around 120 hours of occlusion therapy to achieve, can be produced after just 10 hours.
Adult test subjects have undertaken challenging visual tasks under computer-controlled conditions. Academics hope that these promising results could be used to develop a child-friendly game that could treat amblyopia. There is also the potential to use these new treatments to supplement occlusion therapy.
The £60,000 project — A Study of Perceptual Learning Effects in Amblyopia — has been funded by the College of Optometrists. Amblyopia is a developmental problem in the brain, not the eye. The part of the brain dealing with vision from the affected eye develops abnormally as a result of atypical visual experience early in life. This results in markedly different levels of vision in each eye which cannot be remedied with spectacles.
As well as looking at potential treatments for the condition, the study examines the level of neural plasticity in the adult brain — the ability of a neural system to change with experience.
The work is being carried out by Andrew Astle, a PhD student at the University.
“The results so far show a drastic improvement on patching, and disprove the long-held belief that adults cannot be treated for this type of condition,” Andrew said. “However, the study is not complete and we’re still looking for subjects to take part in the tests.”
Work set to start in spring 2009 at the University will build on Andrew’s results, examining amblyopia in children and examining the functional and structural organisation of the visual cortex. This EU-wide study has been funded by a European Consortium FP7 grant to the tune of 2.6m Euro. Professor Paul McGraw and Dr Ben Webb in the Visual Neuroscience Group will look at the effects and treatment of amblyopia in children. Other European institutions, including the University of Florence, the Max Planck Institute for Neuroscience and University College London, will examine the condition from the molecular level to its behavioural impact on animal models.
It is thought that results from this study could be translated to other conditions where recovery is limited due to restricted neural plasticity — including brain tumours, stroke, degenerative diseases and trauma.
Professor McGraw said “Andrew’s results suggest that the adult amblyopic visual system retains a great deal more neural plasticity than previously thought. Harnessing this plasticity offers a new way of treating this common condition and opens the door to developing novel pharmacological and behavioural interventions for a range of neurological deficits.”
To take part in the Study of Perceptual Learning Effects in Amblyopia, contact Andrew Astle at email@example.com
Emma Thorne | alfa
Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg
New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences