Author Topic: interesting study on presbyopia -- implications for other vision problems too?  (Read 631 times)

Offline caimanjosh

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I came across an interesting study the other day regarding presbyopia:  http://www.nature.com/articles/srep00278

Essentially what happened in the study was they took a number of people who normally wore reading glasses for presbyopia, and had them undergo a sort of vision training.  The training involved intensively focusing to try and resolve minor differences in color contrast (from about 2 feet away).  After several months of training, the subjects' presbyopia was significantly improved, and all of them were able to read a newspaper without reading glasses, something that they could not do before.

The scientists did some optical measurements of their eyes before and after, and didn't observe any changes with the eyes themselves.  Therefore, they concluded that the difference must be with how the brain processes the images that the eyes received.  That is, the brain become better at "deblurring" images. 

I found this an interesting study for a couple of reasons.  First, it shows that it is indeed possible to overcome presbyopia to some extent.  Second, it raises the question:  are improvements in vision like some on this forum (myself included) have experienced due changes in the eye itself, or rather in our brains' processing of the images it receives?  Or maybe both?  The subjects' accommodation (which didn't change) was measured, rather than axial length directly....but that might amount to the same thing.  I'm not sure on that. 

If the improvements in vision are purely neural, then that suggests to me that there might well be a limit on how much improvement can occur.  I'd like to believe that's not the case, though. 

Offline Hillyman

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Practicing being able to discern subtle differences in contrast may be beneficial to the brain's visual functioning. I recall there was an app from MIT (?) for the iPad that showed screens with black markers against a white background where the markers became lighter in color until there were very nearly white. The practice was to be able to locate the markers even as they became less gray on the sequence of screens. I have to try to dig up the name. I remember the claim that those with 20/20 vision would see something like like 20/8 after assiduous practice with this. It did not seem to claim that this was a way to reduce myopia, but perhaps the principle might result in sharper acuity at whatever level of myopia you have.

Coming across this entry recently, I wondered if there were iPhones apps that used the same theme. Indeed there are, and I have been using them for the past few days. If nothing else, they are engaging games of trying to tap which of various squares presented on the screen is the "odd man out." As you go through the screens, the differences become more and more subtle and a wrong choice ends the game. I find that I seem to have the most trouble in the greens.