ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Extra Pounds in Mid-Life Affect Later Mobility
Gene Plays Key Role in Clubfoot
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
CANCER
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Well Water Might Raise Bladder Cancer Risk
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Falls Are Top Cause of Injury, Death Among Elderly
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
Study Links Pesticides to Birth Defects
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
DIABETES
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Mediterranean Diet Helps Protect Aging Brain
Fatty Acid in Olive Oil Wards Off Hunger
Eating your way to Good Health
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Vitamin D Deficit May Trigger MS Risk Gene
As Earth Warms, Lyme Disease Could Flourish
EYE CARE, VISION
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
Music Can Help Restore Stroke Patients' Sight
Drinking Green Tea May Protect Eyes
FITNESS
Go To Work But Skip The Car
Vigorous Treadmill Workout Curbs Appetite Hormones
When It Comes to Lifting, the Pros Have Your Back
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Coffee Cuts Liver Scarring in Hepatitis C
Dr Churchill & Ashley Pelton Interview 1 of 4
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
A Little Chocolate May Do the Heart Good
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Wood Fires Can Harm the Youngest Lungs
MEN'S HEALTH
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
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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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