ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Holistic Treatment for Candida Infection
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss
Extra Pounds in Mid-Life Affect Later Mobility
Genes May Help Drive Rotator Cuff Injury
CANCER
Method for Treating Cervical Lesions May Pose Pregnancy Risks
Adding Garlic Might Cut Cancer Risk
HPV Vaccine Has Higher Allergic Reaction Rate
CAREGIVING
Study Links Pesticides to Birth Defects
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
Baby's Sleep Position May Not Affect Severity of Head Flattening
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
DIABETES
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
DIET, NUTRITION
'Soda Tax' Wins Health Experts' Support
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Staying Slim Is Good for the Environment
Think You Are Lead-Free? Check Your Soil
Arsenic in Drinking Water Raises Diabetes Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
When Gauging Age, the Eyes Have It
FITNESS
Simple Steps Get Walkers Moving
Be Healthy, Spend Less
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Any Old Cane Won't Do
Parents Influence Sex Decisions, Hispanic Teens Say
Most Women Struggle With Rising Health Care Costs
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
A Little Alcohol May Help the Heart: Studies
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Musicians' Brains Tuned to Emotions in Sound
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
SENIORS
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Add your Article

Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults

By Ed Edelson
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- Correcting lazy eye in adults is supposed to be impossible, but researchers report they have been able to do that -- at least partially and temporarily -- by beaming magnetic pulses into the brain.

Someone with lazy eye -- ophthalmologists call it amblyopia -- has poor vision because one eye is weaker than the other. Early treatment often has a child wearing a patch over the strong eye to strengthen the weaker one, but the problem has been thought to be untreatable in adulthood. Most of the estimated 6 million Americans with amblyopia are adults.

"We know now that visual loss is caused by poor processing in the cortex," said Benjamin Thompson, a postdoctoral fellow in the ophthalmology department at McGill University in Canada, and a member of the group reporting on the new method in the July 22 issue of Current Biology. "Treatment usually addresses the problem with the eye, not with the cortex."

The study was prompted in part by research at a number of institutions showing that changes can occur in the adult brain, which until recently was thought to be impossible.

The cortex is a vital part of the brain, involved in vision among other functions. Work by other researchers has shown that transcranial magnetic stimulation, in which a rapid train of magnetic impulses is delivered to the brain through a hand-held coil placed on the scalp, has been effective in stroke rehabilitation and is being tested against depression.

When it was tried on nine adults with amblyopia, 15 minutes of magnetic stimulation improved the sensitivity of the weaker eye temporarily, Thompson said. In visual tests, they were able to see finer details than before the treatment.

"We were surprised by how well it worked," he said. "Vision in the amblyopic eye improved for at least 20 minutes after transcranial magnetic stimulation."

It was admittedly a small trial, but "one of the issues we were addressing was whether amblyopia could be treated in adults," Thompson said. "The adult brain doesn't have the same capacity for change as in children."

There are two ways to exploit the finding, and the McGill group plans to try both of them, Thomson said. One route is to use multiple bouts of transcranial stimulation.

"We've only tried a single dose so far in our study," he said. "Now, we can look at the effect of repeated doses. In depression, it seems they can have an effect."

The other possibility is to use magnetic stimulation to prime the brain for a rehabilitation program, a training regimen in which adults are asked to perform a series of visual tasks. Recent studies have indicated that such a perceptual training program can improve vision in amblyopic eyes.

"We will also have a parallel project, a training regime with stimuli to both eyes, higher-contrast stimuli to the amblyopic eye," Thompson said. "We hope that repeated exposure will bring improvement."

The report is one of several indicating that the adult brain has more capacity for change than had been thought, said Dr. Robert Cykiert, a clinical associate professor of ophthalmology at New York University.

Lazy eye occurs because the proper connections between the eye and the cortex do not form early in life, Cykiert explained. "We thought that if the connections do not form by age 10 or so, it is too late."

The McGill study indicates otherwise, he noted. "The study has very preliminary results, but obviously this may lead to other related or similar treatments that may have a more lasting effect," Cykiert said. "What we might be able to do is to allow people with lazy eye to have treatments that stimulate that part of the brain."

More information

Amblyopia and its current treatments are described by the National Eye Institute.



SOURCES: Benjamin Thompson, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow, ophthalmology department, McGill University, Montreal; Robert Cykiert, clinical associate professor, ophthalmology, New York University, New York City; July 22, 2008, Current Biology

Last Updated: July 18, 2008

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