If you have children who are old enough to ride a bike, then it is pretty likely that you've at least heard of the hand-held game system called the Nintendo DS. For the uninitiated, it is a small, portable video game system. As many parents will attest, these little devices can work wonders on long car trips and while waiting at the doctor's office. But these parents also wonder if these tiny screens can be bad for their child's eyes. Well, maybe. If they are used excessively without rest, then eyestrain, headaches, and even double vision can occur. As with any activity, frequent breaks are a good idea, and if you notice visual problems, contact your eye doctor.
However, there is a new game out called Flash Focus. It is designed specifically to improve certain visual skills, such as Dynamic Visual Acuity, Momentary Vision, Eye Movement, and Hand-Eye Coordination. Because it is fun, easy, and personalized, vision specialists who provide vision therapy are incorporating it into their programs as one more tool to improve the visual skills of their patients. This is great because it can add fun and variety to the therapy program while supporting some of the skills that are taught. At Bright Eyes Family Vision Care, we have incorporated Flash Focus into vision therapy either as part of the office or home activities for specific patients. So far, the patients are enjoying it.
Flash Focus was developed by Dr. Hisao Ishigaki, a Japanese sports-vision specialist. Sports vision is a type of vision therapy that assists athletes in improving visual skills to give them a leg up on their opponents. Many professional teams have a staff optometrist that will work with athletics to improve speed of visual recognition, depth perception, and spatial perception -- the same type of skills that Flash Focus trains.
One word of caution: While the Flash Focus game can improve skills, it is not by itself a full vision therapy program. Likewise, the similar game Brain Age is not a substitute for proper assessment and treatment of learning problems, and Wii Sports is not a substitute for P.E. class in school. But these types of games can be fun and can supplement the activities that we do in vision therapy at the office. If you are using Flash Focus or any other therapy program, be sure to tell me at your next office visit.
You can read more at http://www.flashfocus.net/
Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.