If your parents cautioned that playing video games would be harmful to your eyesight, their concerns may not have been entirely true. Findings from a recent study by researchers from the University of Rochester in New York show that playing action video games for an hour or so on a daily basis actually heightens ones visual acuity.

According to Daphne Bavelier, lead author in the study and a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, "Action-video-game play changes the way our brains process visual information...These games push the human visual system to the limits and the brain adapts to it. That learning carries over into other activities and possibly everyday life."

What is particularly interesting about the research findings is that they give researchers cause to be optimistic about the possibility of using video games for therapeutic purposes in patients with visual problems. It is even possible, according to Bavelier, that some action video games might help stem visual impairment resulting from natural aging of the brain.

An important qualification, however, is that not all action games will help improve visual acuity. Games such as Tetris, requiring much slower reaction times, did not have the same effect as other seemingly more complicated first-person action video games. The researchers did, however, put out a disclaimer along with their findings: excessive amounts of time spent in front of a bright screen may result in eyestrain and be disruptive to the bodys biological clock, and some games may be psychologically harmful.

So, while it is true that certain types of video games may be beneficial in improving ones acumen, this study is not a carte blanche endorsement of video games and even cautions against harmful content and spending unreasonable amounts of time playing them. The research is, however, good food for thought and may help parents to approach the subject of video games with a broader, more informed perspective when deciding what is best for their children.