Playing video games with high levels of action and violence improve vision, say researchers at the University of Rochester in the US. A recent study they conducted on college students found that playing such games for a few hours a day improves visual acuity by 20 per cent within a month.
Interestingly, the study — funded by the US National Institutes of Health — found that only violent shooting games such as Unreal Tournament and Halo 2 helped improve vision. Sedate games such as chess and scrabble did not help. The study will appear next week in Psychological Science, a medical journal.
Doctors say the finding may be useful for people with visual deficits like amblyopic — or lazy eye. “The only treatment for a lazy eye is the stimulation of the fovea, which lies in the centre of the retina,” says Dr Mahipal Sachdeva, director, Centre for Sight, New Delhi. “These fast-paced interactive games can make treatment fun for people.”
“When people play action games, they are changing the brain’s pathway responsible for visual processing,” says study author Daphne Bavelier. “These games push the human visual system to the limits and the brain adapts to it. That learning carries over into other activities and possibly everyday life.”
But such games should be played in moderation. Too much of it leads to violent tendencies, say experts. Studies suggest that parents should watch out for early signs of trouble in their children like aggressive behaviour.