Vision training – or vision therapy, as it’s sometimes known – has been used since the late 19th century to treat visual impairments and defects. It’s recently begun being used in the professional sports world to help improve athlete performance. And if it’s in the sports world, why shouldn’t it be in the e-sports world? After all, video games require a lot of visual focus and concentration, so it makes sense to have gamer vision training as well. But can you train your vision? Is it possible to find methods to improve your brain’s visual core and increase your overall gaming performance? It absolutely is, and probably in more ways than you think.
What is Vision Training?
Your eyes have six muscles that help them move around in the eye socket. Left, right, up, down, even around: your eyes make a lot of movement. And just like any muscle, the eyes can be trained to grow stronger. With enough training, you can move your sight faster with less strain, not only extending your playtime but also reducing physical damage. Straining and focusing your eyes for extended periods of time can lead to blurry vision, dry eye, and even macular degeneration. With proper training, you can lessen these burdens as you play.
Vision training isn’t just about the muscles. It’s one thing to be able to move your eyes quickly and another to move them where they should go. Most competitive video games are about precision and focus, requiring you to utilize proper aim. Vision training can help your eyes better survey the screen and focus on the right areas. Vision tracking studies have shown that professional gamers have better overall focus when playing. They’re looking exactly where they need to, when they need to. And with enough practice, so can you.
How Does Gamer Vision Training Work?
Although most game time is spent sitting at a computer, e-sports players benefit from the same training and preparation as physical sports players. Keeping a healthy body maintains a healthy mind, which is vital to gaming focus. There are several training practices that athletes use to keep their visual muscles toned, and they’re more than helpful for gamers to practice as well. Here are a few you can try at home to improve your gaming experience and eye health.
Focus Flexibility: If you play a lot of FPS or other 3-dimensional games, focus flexibility is an excellent skill to practice. While playing games or working on a computer, frequently shift your focus from your screen to a distant object. Not only will this reduce eye strain, but you’ll also train your eyes to quickly shift focus from nearby objects to further away ones.
Peripheral Awareness: If you have a large screen set up, or double or triple monitors, peripheral awareness is key to having a good game. Without proper side-eye vision, you can easily miss an enemy sneaking up on you or a key item you’ll need that’s hidden on the side. To build up this skill, try watching TV or a scene out your window with your head turned to the side. Be sure to switch the sides up to keep a strong awareness on both the left and right.
Dynamic Visual Acuity: Many games have a lot of quick-moving parts, and dynamic visual acuity will help you keep track of them all. Vision tends to get worse when motion is involved, but with practice, you can keep clarity during a match. You can try a few apps with mini-games that will test and improve this, but if you have a turntable or other device that spins, you can do it at home. Cut out some letters and stick them to a spinning surface, then try to identify them as they move, varying the speed for an extra challenge.
Depth Perception: Like focus flexibility, depth perception is vital to playing three-dimensional games. Training your depth perception helps you make spatial judgments, such as knowing how far away an enemy is on a map. You can train this skill by practicing putting a cap on a pen while held at arm’s length away, or trying to drop a small pebble through a straw at arm’s length.
Color Vision: Video games have an abundance of visual stimuli, color chief among them. There are even games that are entirely designed around the concept of colors. There’s no real practice that can be done to improve one’s color vision, as it’s all about the way your eyes naturally process hues and shades. But if you suffer from certain color blindness, there are glasses and contacts you can purchase that help your eyes better distinguish between an object and its background when you can’t see the colors.
Hand and Eye Dominance: Just like you have a dominant hand, you also have a dominant eye. Your body naturally adjusts to various skills and activities when you need your dominant hand to take over. Your body does the same with vision, using your dominant eye to see certain visual information more clearly. This applies less to video games than normal sports, but it can be a good thing to know which eye is dominant in certain situations. For example, if you have a large screen or multi-screen setup, you may benefit from turning your head to allow more access of the dominant eye to visual information. Working on your peripheral skills can help you keep track of the rest of the screen as well.
Utilizing vision training as a gamer means improving your skills and keeping your body healthy. With a healthy body, your mind naturally has better focus and concentration. Keeping your eye muscles well trained and relaxed also prevents macular degeneration in the future. If you’re serious about your gaming and want to improve your scores, practice visual training daily. Your eyes, and your game performance, will thank you for it.