Video games can improve your vision, study finds

Playing high-action video games for a few hours each day can improve your vision, according to researchers in the U.S.

Playing high-action video games for a few hours each day can improve your vision, according to researchers in the U.S. But an eye expert in the U.K. called their findings into question.

The researchers from the University of Rochester in New York found that people who play video games for a few hours a day over the course of a month can improve certain aspects of their vision by about 20 percent.

Playing the games changes the pathways in the brain responsible for visual processing, as the brain adapts to the additional pressure that playing such games puts on the visual system, they said.

The researchers found a group of students who played little or no video games -- which was a challenge in itself -- and gave them a test that measured how well they could discern the orientation of a letter "T" within a crowd of other, distracting symbols.

They then divided the students into two groups. One group was told to play the shoot-em-up game "Unreal Tournament" for an hour each day for a month, while a control group played "Tetris," a less visually complex game.

After about a month, the students playing the action game could determine the orientation of the "T" much more easily than before, while the Tetris players showed no improvement, the researchers said.

The T test measures visual acuity, or the clarity of a person's vision, according to the researchers, who are Daphne Bavelier, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences, and graduate student Shawn Green.

That means playing video games should improve your ability to identify letters on a standard eye-test, they said.

An optometry expert in the U.K. disagreed, however. The American researchers are confusing visual acuity with visual search, which is what the T test really measures, according to Maggie Woodhouse, a senior lecturer in the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences at Cardiff University.

"The test they're using is not for visual acuity," she said after being told of the research. "They've trained their students to make rapid eye movements and to scan large areas to find objects of interest. ... That is visual search."

There may indeed be a benefit from playing high-action video games, she said, but it will be in the ability to locate objects in a large or crowded area. That means it could help you pick out a friend's face at a football game, or play a fast-moving sport like ice hockey.

The improvement may not last for very long, however, and Woodhouse seemed to consider the overall impact of video games a negative one. Playing for too long can cause eye strain, she said. She also said playing video games "gives you brain damage," although that seemed to be her subjective view rather than a scientific one.

The researchers at Rochester University could not immediately be reached for comment. They said the results of their test suggest that people with visual defects could improve their visual acuity with special software that mimics the need to identify objects quickly in an action game.

The research is due to appear in next week's Psychological Science journal.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >

Mobile

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?