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Action games 'improve eyesight'

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Playing a certain type of videogame can help to improve adult eyesight, a study conducted by a North American university has concluded.

Over the course of nine weeks, two groups of 11 adult volunteers each played a total of 50 hours of games. One group played action titles – including Call of Duty 2 - and the other set played only The Sims 2.

Researchers concluded that the action-game group showed an average improvement of between 43 and 58 per cent in their ability to discern between close shades of grey.

This is known as contrast sensitivity and helps us pick out objects set against dark backgrounds. As you get older, contrast sensitivity deteriorates.

The second group showed no improvement in contrast sensitivity whatsoever.

Daphne Bavelier, Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester in New York, which carried out the research, said that action games “train the brain” to process visual information more efficiently.

She also said that such improvements would last for months after play has stopped.

Bavelier’s latest research builds on her earlier videogame and eyesight research from 2007.

Back then, she discovered that volunteers playing action games for several hours each day for one month increased their ability to spot letters from within a clutter – an examination similar to one used in regular ophthalmology tests – by 20 per cent.

“This is the first demonstration that contrast sensitivity can be improved by simple training,” Bavelier said, commenting on her most recent findings. ®

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