As if middle-aged nerds don’t already have reason enough to move out of their parents’ basements, a pilot study released by the University of California, Berkeley may keep them staring at their screens even longer. That’s because the Cal research suggested that playing video games could improve the vision of adults with amblyopia, or lazy eye.
The study involved a series of experiments in which subjects wore an eye patch over their good eye and played action (shooting at targets) and non-action (constructing objects) video games for a certain period of time over the span of a month. After only 40 hours of play time, the subjects’ visual acuity improved by 30 percent, or an improvement of approximately 1.5 lines on a standard optometric chart. In comparison, it takes an average of 120 hours of conventional occlusion therapy (wearing an eye patch over the good eye to force-train the weaker eye) to yield a 1.0 line improvement.
Another experiment was performed to verify that the eye patch was not causing the performance boost: subjects wore an eye patch over their good eye and performed routine daily activities and were found to have no vision improvement after 20 hours. The same subjects then played video games over the span of a month in the same manner as the first experiment and showed similar improvement as the first experimental group.
According to researchers, the results are remarkable in that there is currently no accepted treatment for amblyopia in adults; it is thought that amblyopia can only be reversed before a child turns 8. Moreover, researchers say that they have not clearly seen a vision improvement plateau. Subjects’ vision continued to improve after playing video games an additional 40 hours.
However, before you devote more of your schedule to World of Warcraft, keep in mind that this research is still in its early stages. More importantly, researchers found that video game therapy has shown no similar benefits for those with normal vision. You’ll have to wait a little longer before you can pull off the old “I’m gaming for my health” excuse.
Article from UC Berkeley: Playing video games helps adults with lazy eye…
Journal Article from PLoS Biology: Video-Game Play Induces Plasticity in the Visual System of Adults with Amblyopia
We also wrote back in March about how the Nintendo 3DS could help identify amblyopia in children: Nintendo 3DS to Help Identify Amblyopia and Other Vision Problems…