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Video Games vs. Cataracts

February 20, 2012

Playing certain types of video games can improve the vision of people who were born with cataracts.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Video game vision…I’m Bob Hirshon, and this is Science Update.

Action-oriented video games often get a bad name for being too violent. But new research suggests that they may have positive benefits for people born with cataracts. Developmental psychologist Daphne Maurer of McMaster University and her colleagues studied adults who had undergone surgery as babies for congenital cataracts. While the surgery makes it possible for them to see, their visual acuity is not as good as that of people born without cataracts. Maurer’s team had them play action-oriented video games for 40 hours.

DAPHNE MAURER (McMaster University):

We got the clue that video games might make a difference because we know that even in adults with normal vision, if they play action video games, there will be improvements in their vision.

HIRSHON:

Indeed, the visual acuity of the volunteers playing the video games improved significantly over the course of the study. Maurer thinks this may be because action-oriented video games exercise many facets of the visual system simultaneously. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.