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Action video games good for vision

A study says, that playing action video games for a few hours a day improves visual acuity by 20 per cent within a month.

india Updated: Feb 11, 2007 13:09 IST

Fast-paced video games with high levels of action improve vision say researchers at the University of Rochester in the US. Playing action video games for a few hours a day improves visual acuity by 20 per cent within a month.

Simply put, you will be able to read the standard eye chart more quickly and clearly. Interestingly, the study — funded by the US National Institutes of Health — found that only violent shooting games such as Unreal Tournament and helped improve vision.

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More sedate games such as Chess, Scrabble and Tetris do nothing to improve eyesight. The study will appear next week in the medical journal, Psychological Science.



The improvement was seen both in the visual field where video game players typically play, and in the vision beyond the monitor. The students’ vision improved in the centre and at the periphery where they had not been “trained” by the game.”



This suggests that people with visual deficits, such as amblyopic — or lazy eye — may improve vision with special rehabilitation software that reproduces an action game’s need to identify objects very quickly.



“The only treatment for a lazy eye is the stimulation of the fovea, which lies in the centre of the retina. These fast-paced interactive games can make treatment fun for people who currently have to go around with a patch over one eye or visit ophthalamologists for treatment,” says Dr Mahipal Sachdeva, director, Centre for Sight.



The bonus is that the eye exercises can be done anywhere, at home, at work and while travelling. The improvement happens because action games change the way the brain processes visual information.



“When people play action games, they are changing the brain’s pathway responsible for visual processing,” says the study.