Natural Methods That May Help Improve Your Vision

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There may be a natural way to help improve your vision…

Older adults could improve their vision with “perceptual training,” according to a new U.S. study. Its findings have implications for the health and mobility of our aging population.

The new study appears in the current online issue of the Journal of Vision and is funded by the National Institute on Aging.

Researchers conducted a series of experiments to determine whether repeatedly performing certain visual tasks involving the limits of what someone can see could improve eyesight in adults over 65. With just two days of training (one-hour sessions), older adults had their vision improve to the level of college-age subjects. This improvement was maintained for up to three months. Results depended on where in the visual field the stimuli were located — suggesting there are changes in the brain afoot. The visual cortex is the part of the brain that processes visual information.

Age-related changes in vision

Age-related changes in vision — such as contrast sensitivity, dark adaptation, spatial vision, orientation, depth perception, and motion perception — are well known to scientists. But this is the first study to show that perceptual training could be used to actually completely reverse the age-related decline, and improve vision straightaway.

The study used a “texture discrimination test,” in which people were presented with stimuli consisting of one letter that appeared in the middle of a litany of horizontal lines. Another had a ton of lines running diagonally, forming some kind of vertical or horizontal object. People had to identify that central letter and the peripheral object, which can be a difficult task for someone with weakened vision.

Researchers discovered that improvements in vision were not just because people were practicing or were familiar with the test. The improved performance was maintained for at least three months. These are huge results, which show the brain and its vision component can be manipulated and changed for the better. This type of therapy seems useful for recovering from declines in vision due to normal aging.

Because declining vision can present major obstacles to people and severely damage quality of life, perceptual learning may be a useful tool for improving the health and well-being of an older population. This, along with other studies, shows that behavioral interventions are likely to be very useful for improving safety and quality of life as we get older.

Consult your doctor or optometrist for more information.

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Dr. Victor Marchione, MD

About the Author, Browse Victor's Articles

Victor Marchione, MD received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1973 and his Medical Degree from the University of Messina in 1981. He has been licensed and practicing medicine in New York and New Jersey for over 20 years. Dr. Marchione is a respected leader in the field of smoking cessation and pulmonary medicine. He has been featured on ABC News and World Report, CBS Evening News and the NBC Today Show and is the editor of the popular The... Read Full Bio »