Many parents spend countless hours trying to get their kids to stop playing video games and watching television long enough to enjoy a healthier hobby such as playing outdoors. With a new development at the University of Tennessee, parents may begin to appreciate the value of video games a little more!
Video Games as an Eye Exams?
Researchers at the University of Tennessee developed a new type of eye exam for children. The catch is that this exam is no ordinary exam – instead it appears as a simple video game or animation that children must watch or play through.
Research has shown that children learn mostly through visual aid; however, many young children do not get eye exams. This is problematic, since some eye conditions can be treated if they are found early on. With our current eye exam system, it is not possible to detect all types of eye conditions in young children. So, in response to this predicament, three researchers at UT decided to change the system.
The three researchers involved in the video game eye exam project wanted to create a better way to test the vision of young children. Their solution ended up being very effective, cheap, and easy.
How Does It Work?
The researchers invented a device called the Dynamic Ocular Evaluation System, or DOES for short. The invention is essentially a machine that can be used by anyone to test the vision of a child as he or she watches a short animation or plays a short game. The main purpose of the machine is to test the quality of the child’s vision, but also to look for abnormalities such as dyslexia. The device can also detect autism.
DOES is an extremely operator-friendly machine. One can be taught how to use the machine in just a few minutes, which makes the device very valuable to doctor’s offices around the world. In addition to being easy to use, the machine also eliminates the need for eye dilation. Further, children don’t even have to respond verbally while taking the exam! This is especially great for very young children, who would not even know they were being tested.
The machine first tests for binocular refractive risks, neural issues, ocular alignment, and scattering, among other conditions. As the animation continues, the child is tested for less dangerous issues such as ADHD, PTSD, and autism. DOES also tests for lazy eyes and crossed eyes. DOES is especially important for children with a lazy eye.
One scientist commented that lazy eye tends to develop before a child turns six years old, due to one eye being better and stronger than the other. The bad eye is essentially cut off from the brain since it does not perform well, causing vision to be lost in that eye. By using this machine, the problem can be detected early on and prevented altogether.
All of the results from the exam are recorded digitally, which makes it very simple to transmit the results to a specialist for analysis if necessary.
Why Is DOES Necessary?
The main researcher in charge of the project noted that very few kids have their eyes tested, and those that do have tests that are inadequately performed – that’s simply where our technology is at this point.
These researchers wanted a more effective and accurate way to detect eye problems in children at a young age. Some ocular diseases need to be treated as soon as possible, so using the DOES to screen children can help many kids get the treatment they need.
Some industries have already shown an interest in the machine which is currently undergoing additional research and trials at a Tennessee Walmart Vision Center. The scientists in charge hope to compare their results to other eye exams and see where their machine stands. Then, they can alter or improve the machine before marketing it.
It may be a while before we see any of these machines around, but the results so far look very promising.
Video Games and Improving Eyesight in Children
In addition to detecting eye defects in children, video games can also be used to improve a child’s eyesight. Video games can help exercise the eye, making the muscles and surrounding tissue stronger and healthier overall, thus improving vision. Eye exercises are an effective way to improve and preserve vision – contacts and glasses are not the only option!
Video games require a lot of visual focus and often times one must follow a certain character across the screen – this type of focus is a great exercise for improving eyesight. It is especially great for children because it is very simple and will also hold their attention.
If children begin taking care of their eyes at a young age, some of these conditions can be reversed, and their vision can be improved overall. Then, by the time they are old enough for a traditional eye exam, their vision will already be in great shape, eliminating the need for glasses or contacts!
So the next time your child wants to spend some time playing video games, consider allowing it for the eye benefits! Just make sure your child takes adequate breaks to rest his or her eyes.
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