How to lose your dependence on reading glasses
Scientists say 3 months of 10-minute training sessions are all it takes to improve your vision.
Is it possible to retrain your own brain to see better? A company called GlassesOff says so, and it's got the scientific studies – and now, an app – to prove it.
The Tel Aviv, Israel-based company, whose app just reached 1 million users worldwide, claims that in three months, you can reduce or completely eliminate your dependence on glasses by following GlassesOff's recommended training series.
The goal, its developers say, is to make presbyopia – the degradation of vision due to age – less of an inevitable symptom and more of an optional inconvenience. GlassesOff's team of scientists embarked on a series of studies several years ago to test their training regimen before launching the app. This video breaks down the science:
"Presbyopia has multiple negative effects on the quality of vision and the quality of life, due to limitations on daily activities – in particular, reading," study author Dr. Uri Polat and his team of scientists wrote in their research. "In addition, presbyopia results in reduced near visual acuity, reduced contrast sensitivity, and slower processing speed."
After 30 study subjects underwent a series of tests, Polat and his team concluded that "the aging brain retains enough plasticity to overcome the natural biological deterioration with age."
Using previous research, the app is divided into three training phases: a five-minute evaluation, the three-day-a-week GlassesOff program, and an ongoing vision care program. All told, GlassesOff promises users real results after 20 sessions.
But how can we change our vision without actually changing our eyes? Polat, the head of Optometry and Vision Science at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, says it's all due to a concept called perceptual learning, which is repeated practice on a demanding visual task. When our vision deteriorates as we get older, it's not always because of our eyes – it's because of our brain.
"We wanted to develop the application that can help people empower themselves to improve their reading abilities by improving the way that the brain improves and processes information," GlassesOff CEO Nimrod Madar told CBS News. "Until recently it wasn't really possible because scientists didn't understand how to improve the way that the image processing capabilities of the brain actually works."
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