I’m sure you all know the amazing video game Tetris. Who hasn’t spent many an hour flipping and spinning blocks to complete puzzle after puzzle? Since its debut in the early 1980s, the game has formed an almost cult-like following. Who knew that a computerized game in which the player spliced together falling bricks would take off like it did?
Even in the age of HD graphics and 3-D video games, kids all around the world still enjoy an old fashioned game of Tetris every once and a while, and now by playing a simple game, they could even be improving their health.
Video Game Helps Strengthen Eyes
Earlier this year, researchers from the McGill University Health Center claimed that playing the popular video game Tetris could be an effective treatment for amblyopia.
Amblyopia is commonly known as a lazy eye, and before now, often needed surgery in order to be corrected. People who suffer from the disorder also suffer from impaired vision due to a reduction of their vision field. For this reason and for aesthetic reasons, most sufferers look for viable treatment options that will fit into their lifestyle. While surgery is a viable option, most people dread going under the knife. Plus, who wouldn’t rather play Tetris than have surgery?
The scientists at the McGill University Health Center cited that Tetris was a viable treatment option because it requires visual information to be sent to both eyes simultaneously. In turn, the patient’s eyes learn to work cooperatively, and the weaker, lazier eye will learn to adjust and open wider. This is also in part due to the level of plasticity in the brain.
During a fierce session of Tetris, the neurons in your brain are firing rapidly! This rapid fire will allow the brain to relearn how to utilize the lazy eye too, and in turn, retrain the eye to stay open wider for longer periods of time.
In the laboratory setting, scientists found that patients who played Tetris for only 15 minutes had improved vision in their lazy eye for 30 minutes after the game was finished.
How Tetris Rebuilds Vision
So, how can you utilize your favorite game from the 80s to treat your lazy eye? Well, researchers believe that patients must play the game dichoptically in order to see improvement. This means, that each eye sees an entirely different part of the game. The stronger eye will visualize the base of the game only, while the weaker eye will visualize the game pieces.
During the study, as the game was played, the patient’s eyes had to learn to work together, and cooperate with each other. Patients who played the game for 15 minutes per day dichoptically saw an overall improvement in their lazy eye’s vision within two weeks!
One issue with this study though was that it claimed that only adults and older children would benefit from the treatment. Small children didn’t test well in the lab since their eyes and brains are still rapidly growing. To treat lazy eye in small children, most eye doctors simply put an eye patch on the stronger eye. The weaker eye will then retrain itself and will cure itself.
To back up this study, another study was conducted two years ago in India that showed similar results. However, in India, researchers found that any type of video game could help adults and older children cure their lazy eyes.
This is great news for any video gamer who is suffering from amblyopia, because what gamer wouldn’t want to be told they have to play more video games in order to treat their condition?
Another great way to help your eyes is to take eye vitamins. Many people don’t think about their eyes when they take their daily multivitamin, but your eyes are an important part of your overall health. Taking vision-enhancing vitamins can really make a difference on your overall eye health and sight. But if your a true video gamer, start playing a few extra games of Tetris, your eyes will thank you!