Video games have often been labeled as one of the worst things for your health. They promote laziness and social isolation, two things that parents hate. While playing too many video games can be bad for your health (after all, gaming addiction is a real thing), there are scientifically proven studies that show video games can help improve hand-eye coordination, problem solving skills, and more. Online gaming has also become a key way that friends can stay connected while social distancing.

The next stage of video game acceptance? Merging video games with healthcare studies.

Can we merge video games and health?

Video games have already become an increasingly popular option for medical training. This is especially true among students learning to perform surgeries in a virtual setting. By practicing on a virtual patient, students are better able to perform on actual patients. Healthcare professionals have also used video games to gamify training and make it more fun.

We know that video games are great in the healthcare industry. But now, video games have started to work in conjunction with the patient.

How video games are helping patients

One startup, known as Amblyotech, is using video games to help strengthen lazy eye symptoms. Amblyopia (or having a lazy eye) is a common issue that typically develops in early childhood. This condition occurs when the brain favors one eye over the other, similar to the way you eventually prefer one hand over the other. It affects about 3% of the world’s population but there haven’t been solid ways to fix the issue. Without correction, amblyopia could lead to decreased vision, which could affect someone’s ability to drive or perform their work.

Enter: Amblyotech. The once U.S.-based start-up was recently acquired by Novartis, a swiss company in order to develop the 3D technology used to help treat lazy eye symptoms. By using 3D glasses and a tablet, the app known as “Dig Rush” can display varying images to each eye as the user plays. You play as a mole collecting different objects, thereby forcing the eyes to work together to succeed. According to Novartis, early tests have successfully helped both children and adults with amblyopia.

Another video game-based treatment option is EndeavorX, a cognitive function game which was approved by the FDA as a prescription treatment for ADHD. The game has been approved to help treat children ages eight through 12 through various sensory stimulation and motor control challenges. It’s strange to think of a video game as a prescription but trials have proved that regular play can really help a child’s development.

There’s still a long way to go

Video games can’t cure everything — at least, not yet. You’ll still have to go through 12 months of braces treatment to get straight teeth and there’s no game designed to keep your appendix from bursting. As such, it’s still recommended that you monitor your health regularly. On top of that, anyone over the age of 30 years old should look into getting a healthcare proxy. Until video games are able to make all of our dreams come true, we’ll need to rely on tried-and-true methods to maintaining our health.

Regardless, the new emphasis on the importance of video games in health is key. It could open the door for countless other experiments designed to better improve our health.