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iPhone app uses the brain as glasses

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
"GlassesOff" iPhone app uses the brain to help improve vision

Researchers have developed an iPhone app that trains the brain to translate blurred images into clear ones. The idea is that the application can delay the need for reading glasses that seems to become a necessity the very moment we reach age 50.

The application, called “GlassesOff”, is the brainchild of a company called Ucansi, who plan to launch the product next year.

Uri Polat, a researcher at Tel Aviv University in Israel, and co-founder of Ucansi says, "We're using the brain as glasses.”

“GlassesOff” is designed to help older people with near-sightedness, medically known as presbyopia. Near-sightedness with aging happens when the lens of the eye becomes less flexible, making it harder to focus on objects closer to the face.

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The iPhone application improved vision in older adults, whose average age was 51, after 40 training sessions.

In order to train the brain to focus, “GlassesOff” uses software that displays patterns called Gabor Patches – blurry lines that are varying shades of gray. In the center is a white circle that the user focuses on.

The application then flashes different images – some of which are blank. The Gabor Patches jump around the screen. The user determines when the Gabor Patch has returned to the original sequence – that is where the circle was.

The volunteers for the study experienced improvement in vision that equated to an approximately ten year younger “eye age”. Polat says the changes that lead to better vision were all in the brain; not the eyes.

According to the study authors, the iPhone application can keep vision sharp, postponing the need for glasses beyond years when glasses are normally needed.

Image credit: Morguefile