Video gamers have claimed for years that their favorite pastime isn't bad for their health. But new Canadian studies give the argument scientific ammunition, after researchers found that regular games of Tetris helped lazy eye sufferers improve their vision.
Doctors usually treat "lazy eye," or amblyopia, with "patching," a simple technique where the strong eye is covered up, forcing the sufferer to strengthen the weak eye. This doesn't work very well with adults, however — but the researchers suspect that regular sessions with the vintage video game may do the trick instead, because it forces both eyes to work together to successfully play.
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“Using head-mounted video goggles, we were able to display the game dichoptically, where one eye was allowed to see only the falling objects and the other eye was allowed to see only the ground-plane objects,” said McGill University researcher Robert Hess to the Globe and Mail of the research.
"That means the brain must combine information from both eyes in order to play the game. It can no longer suppress the weak eye," he added. Players with patched eyes, the traditional therapy, were included in the research as well.
Researchers found that patients without patched eyes showed faster improvement after regularly playing the game than those with patched eyes, going against common knowledge, wrote the BBC.
Hess noted that the game used in the exercise doesn't have to be Tetris, however, according to the Canadian Press. "The game itself is not so important as the principle behind how we manipulate the game to do some good," he said.
In other "video games and eye health" news — and yes, there's more — researchers found that the humble Nintendo Wii remote can be used to diagnose eye disorders in children. Not such a waste of time, after all.