ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Human Ancestors Put Best Foot Forward 1.5M Years Ago
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
Many Americans Fall Short on Their Vitamin D
CANCER
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Mineral May Reduce High-Risk Bladder Disease
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
CAREGIVING
Study Casts Doubt on Influential Hospital Safety Survey
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
Children's Bath Products Contain Contaminants
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
DIABETES
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
DIET, NUTRITION
Mediterranean Diet Helps Protect Aging Brain
Caffeine May Offer Some Skin Cancer Protection
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Common Pesticide Tied to Development Delays in Kids
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
Chemical in Plastics May Cause Fertility Problems
EYE CARE, VISION
When Gauging Age, the Eyes Have It
Nutrient-Rich Diet Lowers Risk of Age-Related Eye Disease
Florida Vision Test Law: Fewer Traffic Deaths Among Elderly
FITNESS
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Kids More Apt to Smoke If Mom Did While Pregnant
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Obese People Seem to Do Better With Heart Disease
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Plastics Chemical Tied to Aggression in Young Girls
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
MENTAL HEALTH
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
SENIORS
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
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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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