ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Acupuncture Cuts Dry Mouth in Cancer Patients
Cranberries May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Scientists Discover How Osteoarthritis Destroys Cartilage
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
CANCER
Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
Organ Donation Policies Vary Among Children's Hospitals
Health Tip: Benefitting From Adult Day Care
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
DIABETES
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
DIET, NUTRITION
Leafy Greens Top Risky Food List
Adding Garlic Might Cut Cancer Risk
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Hypertension May Hit Black Males Earlier
Think You Are Lead-Free? Check Your Soil
Disinfectants Can Boost Bacteria's Resistance to Treatment
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
Omega-3 Foods May Lower Eye Disease Risk
FITNESS
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
Barefoot Best for Running?
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Keep Fire Safety in Mind as You Celebrate
A Honey of a Sinusitis Treatment
Sun, Smoke, Extra Weight Add Years to Skin
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Risk Factor for Stroke More Common Among Whites
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Winter's Bitter Cold Poses Health Dangers
Eating Fish, Breast-Feeding Boost Infant Development
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
MEN'S HEALTH
Countdown to Hair Loss
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
MENTAL HEALTH
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
SENIORS
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Vitamin D Deficiency Puts 40% of U.S. Infants and Toddlers At Risk
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
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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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