Once considered the enemy of the child's eye, recent medical research has shown that video games can have a beneficial effect on vision. Now a psychologist at McMaster University in Canada says the 40 hours of action-packed gaming could significantly improve the vision of people born with cataracts.
A cataract is a clouding of the crystalline lens of the eye that obscures and distorts vision. It's a condition that's commonly seen in the elderly, but it's also one that can affect children at or shortly after birth. It's a condition that can be handled via surgery or special contact lenses, though those treatments are not always 100 per cent effective and complications can continue into adulthood.
Psychologist Daphne Maurer of McMaster University believes she's found a new way to treat congenital cataracts: 40 hours of action video games. "After playing an action video game for just 40 hours over four weeks, the patients were better at seeing small print, the direction of moving dots and the identity of faces."
With previous research demonstrating how the same 40 hours of gaming can help treat amblyopia (lazy eye), that the same sort of treatment might work on cataracts makes perfect sense. It's a sort of eye training that essentially doesn't give the eyes time to ponder what they should or should not do.
Dr Maurer will be presenting her findings to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver, in a session called The Effects of Early Experience on Lifelong Functioning: Commitment and Resilience. After that, who knows? Between this and the story on games being used to test children's vision, eye doctor offices might slowly transform into the arcades of tomorrow.