Action Games Improve Eyesight, Research Suggests

Dennis Faas's picture

Think video games are wasting away a new generation of frag-happy, overweight teens? Nutritionists might have good reason to be worried, but optometrists could soon be pushing action games on patients after a recent study found they can actually improve eye sight.

According to a study launched by the University of Rochester in New York, those participants who played a significant amount of action video games were better able to differentiate between varying shades of gray. Doesn't sound notable? Well, researchers believe it could actually help people see at night, particularly when they're driving.

University of Rochester researcher Daphne Bavelier believes it's a remarkable finding for eye sight improvements that usually require a laser or scalpel. "Normally, improving contrast sensitivity means getting glasses or eye surgery -- somehow changing the optics of the eye," she said. "But we've found that action video games train the brain to process the existing visual information more efficiently, and the improvements last for months after game play stopped." (Source:

The study pitted first-person shooter (FPS) action games Call of Duty 2 and Unreal Tournament 2004 against the iconic lifestyle simulator "The Sims 2". Half of the 22 students participating in the study played the action games, while the other half played The Sims. (Source:

Each group played their games for fifty hours over a nine week period. Once this was complete, each group was tested and the results were fairly astounding. The action gamers, who mostly fought Nazis and futuristic humans, showed a 43 per cent improvement in identifying different shades of gray. By comparison, those playing The Sims showed no improvement.

Researchers also found that those people who play action games a lot were 58 per cent more likely to notice slim differences in contrast.

Bavelier believes the findings have to do with the demands action games place upon the human brain. "When people play action games, they're changing the brain's pathway responsible for visual processing. These games push the human visual system to the limits and the brain adapts to it." (Source:

And all this time I thought staring at a screen for hours on end was hurting my eyes!

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