Eye Training to Boost Vision in Aging Adults

by on January 5th, 2011
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As you grow older, especially after you cross 40 years of age, you will notice your eyes no longer focus on objects up close, and you have to keep your book farther away to read. This inevitable condition that affects almost everyone who is aging is called presbyopia.

Although the exact cause of presbyopia is not known, age-related loss of lens elasticity is widely blamed for the loss of focus. The lens needs to change its length and shape every time you keep changing focus, and this flexibility is slowly lost as you age. As a result, your near vision gets blurred, and you develop head aches or eye strain when actions such as handwriting or reading are performed up close. The most common treatment solution for presbyopia is reading glasses or bifocals.

A research paper published in Scientific Reports suggests glasses need not be the only solution; a simple eye training exercise can reverse the focus back to your eyes. Dr. Dennis Levi and his colleagues, authors of the research report, suggest in their paper that presbyopia is perfectly treatable by perceptual training: Repeated practice on a demanding visual task.

The scientists have devised a simple eye training exercise that put emphasis on contrast detection and backward masking, and let the participants train for 30 minutes, three times a week. The participants who were aged between 40 and 60 years sat in a dark room and trained their eyes focusing on contrast detection on a special tool devised by the scientists. The results were exciting; participants were able to overcome the disabilities of aging eye and read newspaper font letters without the need for reading glasses. Not only that, the reading speed was increased by about 17 words/minute following the training, which translates into saving about nine minutes for every 2,000-word article.

The trainings are effective across the age spectrum from 40 to 60 years old, and what is exciting is some participants were able to read just like young people. Imagine you are 50 years old and you can dispose off those eyeglasses and read newspapers just like a young man!

Scientists attribute the outcome of the training to the remarkable ability of brain to increase the efficiency of neural processing and overcome the natural biological aging of the eye. Although it is the eyes that do the training, corrections actually takes place in the brain. The brain learns to focus and interpret.

References:

Uri Polat, Clifton Schor, Jian-Liang Tong, Ativ Zomet, Maria Lev, Oren Yehezkel, Anna Sterkin & Dennis M. Levi, Training the brain to overcome the effect of aging on the human eye, Scientific Reports


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