Study Shows that Playing Video Games Could Help Improve Your Vision

I’ve discussed many times before how our visual systems include more than just our physical eyes. Our brain needs to receive the image from our eyes and then has to make sense of it. It also relies on our other senses to give it a complete picture.

We know that eye exercises can help improve our vision, but one researcher has found evidence that playing certain video games can accomplish the same task.

Video Games to Improve Vision

Developmental physiologist Daphne Maurer has found evidence that people with cataracts can improve their vision by playing the video game Medal of Honor.

She had been doing a study on children with visual impairment and had been tracking their development over the past 10 years since they were born. Her goal was to see what effects visual impairment would have on the rest of the child’s development.

She uncovered the secret of “gaming to improve vision” by accident. She had heard about a study, done at Rochester University, that video games could improve the vision of people with normal eyesight. If this could be done with them, why not with people with visual problems?

She herself admits that the “zeitgeist”of the medical world is that the visual system is hardwired during childhood. The visual patterns children learn when they’re young this what they’re stuck with for the rest of their life.

She began to doubt if this was true.

She began conducting an experiment on the children with cataracts, and had them play Medal of Honor. She measured their eyesight before the experiment, and again after a month, with the child averaging 10 hours a week playing the game.

She found at the end of a month she found that the eyesight of every single subject had improved! If they had a weak eye they were seeing better with it, their motion tracking had improved, and they could now see smaller details and at a lower contrast.

Maurer suspects that the reason these games improve vision is because it actually exercises the entire visual spectrum. First person shooting games especially, require the gamer to use their entire visual field, and not just focus on what’s directly ahead of them. The game is fast paced and requires what’s called “vision for action,” meaning that the gamer is required to respond (with the game controller) to what he’s seeing in realtime. They’re not just seeing the world, they’re acting on it.

Maurer continues to hypothesize that video games actually re-wire the brain, causing new connections to be formed, allowing these changes to take place.

The Critics Raise Their Voice

The only potential scientific problem with this study is that the small number of subjects that participated – only 7. Maurer responds that, while this is a small number, every single one of the subjects had stable, poor visual systems, that had only declined in the recent years.

100% experienced a visual improvement in only 4 weeks, showing that there is certainly validity to this hypothesis.

In addition, there was also a control group that didn’t play the game who experienced no visual improvements.

The biggest takeaway from this study is that vision improvement is very much possible. The tools one takes to get there is entirely up to them, but the road is open to it.

Check out the resources page to see other ways one can improve their vision.

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