Although many parents tell their children to stop playing videogames and get outside, it appears that the pastime may actually be beneficial for certain youngsters.
A recent study carried out in an eye clinic in India found that correction of amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, can be improved if children stick to a routine that includes playing videogames, along with standard amblyopia treatment.
In research presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Dr Somen Ghosh, lead researcher at the Calcutta National Medical College, noted that computer games are perhaps not as detrimental to vision as some people claim.
After 12 months of study, he noted that almost 30 per cent of the 100 participants achieved significant vision gains, with six in ten children showing at least some improvement.
The research showed that significant vision gains were more likely in children who participated in Groups 3 or 4 of the four treatment regimens, with treatment Group 3 completing daily videogame practice and Group 4 taking the supplement citicoline, which is associated with improved brain function.
Dr Ghosh noted that the study challenges the assumption that if amblyopia is not diagnosed and corrected before a child reaches school age, it is difficult or impossible to correct.
"The cooperation of the patient is very important, maybe even crucial, to successful treatment of amblyopia. We should never give up on our patients, even the older children, but instead offer them hope and treatment designed to help them achieve better vision," he added.
One boy who took part in the study, 16-year-old Saurav Sen, revealed how he began to experience serious vision problems at the age of 13, which negatively impacted his school work.
Although doctors had told him it was too late to correct his amblyopia, he completed the regimen assigned to treatment Group 3, noting that playing shooting games while only using his weaker eye was the key.
"It was hard at first, but after a few months I could win all game levels easily. I"m very happy that I stuck with the programme. - my vision has improved a lot, so that I now have no trouble studying or taking exams, and of course I"m now a pro PC gamer," he added.
It is hoped that the research may open the door for amblyopia sufferers across the globe to access new treatment for their condition.
by Emily Tait