Playing Video Games To Improve Your Vision

Tuesday, April 10th 2007, 4:00 pm
By: News On 6

Just about every kid loves video games, and past studies have shown video games help people develop better peripheral vision. News On 6 anchor Craig Day reports a research study is underway in Oklahoma to see if those games can help students with low vision. He went to the Oklahoma School for the Blind in Muskogee to find out more on the study.

Every day, Stanley Hodge and 16 other students get to play video games for about an hour during school.

"It's kind of fun, yeah," said student Stanley Hodge.

It's fun, but also challenging. Stanley and the others are all students at the Oklahoma School for the Blind. They're taking part in a research study conducted by the Vanderbilt Vision Research Center.

"It helps me to keep my eyes concentrated for a long time, since I have this diagnosis, it is kind of hard to concentrate on objects for a long time," Hodge said.

Previous research has found that playing video games can improve peripheral vision. Researchers want to find out if that can be the case for people with low vision.

Using a grant from the National Eye Institute, researchers from Vanderbilt University will test the students for five weeks.

"We're trying to investigate what exactly, what aspects of the video games are causing these visual increases," said Jeff Nyquist with Vanderbilt University.

Students with low vision will play the games and exercises. Then they'll be tested again to see if their peripheral vision improves.

"Our overall aim is to create a rehabilitation program,” Nyquist said. “Hopefully we can turn this into a full blown product that can be offered to the low vision community.”

It's too early to tell if the video game therapy works, this is just the first phase of the study. The data will be fully analyzed this summer. But, for Stanley and the other students, the games are a fun break from classes and provide hope.

"I hope my eyes get better," he said.

The Oklahoma School for the Blind in Muskogee is one of only two locations where the testing is taking place. Similar research is happening at the school for the blind in Tennessee.