ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
In Elderly Women, Hip Fractures Often Follow Arm Breaks
Alcohol Abuse Can Damage Bones
Tips to Ease an Aching Back
CANCER
More Americans Urged to Get Cancer Screenings
Method for Treating Cervical Lesions May Pose Pregnancy Risks
Some Spices Cut Cancer Risk That Comes With Grilled Burgers
CAREGIVING
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
TV Watching Doesn't Fast-Track Baby's Skills
Older Caregivers Prone to Worse Sleep Patterns
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Smog Tougher on the Obese
COSMETIC
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
DIABETES
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Go Healthy, Not Hungry for Holiday Eating
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Warmer-Than-Average Temperatures Raise Migraine Risk
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
Golf Course Insecticides Pose Little Danger to Players
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids Think Glasses Make Others Look Smart, Honest
Drinking Green Tea May Protect Eyes
Ordinary Chores Cause Half of All Eye Injuries
FITNESS
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
Toxins May Form When Skin, Indoor Ozone Meet
Swine Flu Fatality Rate a 'Little Bit' Higher Than That of Seasonal Flu
Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings
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
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Ingredient in Dark Chocolate Could Guard Against Stroke
Cherry-Enriched Diet Cut Heart Risks in Rats
Arteries Age Twice as Fast in Smokers
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Working Intensely Early on May Help Autistic Kids
St. John's Wort Doesn't Work for ADHD
Exercise Eases Obesity and Anger in Kids
MEN'S HEALTH
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
MENTAL HEALTH
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
Musicians' Brains Tuned to Emotions in Sound
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
SENIORS
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Any Old Cane Won't Do
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
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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