How to improve eyesight functionality using brain plasticity
Many people who experience the first effects of age-related decline in near vision sharpness, wonder how to improve eyesight. Vision is a field that has drawn substantial attention throughout the last decades, especially in light of new emerging technologies. As opposed to other proposed methods of vision correction based on eye exercises, GlassesOff uses a completely different approach that is exclusively aimed at teaching the visual system of the brain to better use its potential. This also allows the brain to compensate for blurred information captured by the eyes. The foundation for this technology is provided by the fascinating basic feature of the brain: its ability to adapt, also termed plasticity or neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity, or the ability to alter perception, usually as a result of experience, takes on many forms, including perceptual learningand adaptation.
Utilizing Brain Plasticity to Improve Eyesight
So, how to improve vision using the brain? Visual plasticity is the ability of the visual system of the brain to adjust its responses in order to adapt to changes in visual input. A classical view on brain plasticity postulated that it is only possible during the early developmental stage, termed “the critical period”, usually considered to end around the age of 9. No evidence of adult plasticity was available. However, during the last two decades, more evidence for plasticity in the adult visual system has been reported in controlled studies. Practicing with specific visual tasks has been unequivocally demonstrated to improve performance or sensitivity, thereby improving vision. To date, it is a well-described feature of mammalian visual systems throughout the lifespan. Moreover, the visual system of the brain, even in adulthood, appears to exhibit functional plasticity at every stage of processing, starting from photoreceptors in the retina. As a result, the adult visual system is capable of substantial modification in its sensitivity and performance following visual stimulation, deprivation and even abnormal development, as in the case of “lazy eye”.
The Key to Improving Vision Isn’t Your Eyes; It’s Your Brain
How to improve your eyesight using brain plasticity? The answer to this question calls for understanding one fundamental concept: any activity of our brain can be represented as cross-talk between millions of nerve cells, forming the so-called “neuronal circuits”. Strengthening these connections within circuits relevant to a task, such as recognizing letters when reading, forms the grounds of the GlassesOff method. Improvement following repeated performance of specific visual tasks, also termed perceptual learning, was demonstrated using a variety of visual tasks in numerous controlled studies. Moreover, behavioral effects are supported by electrophysiological recordings as well as imaging studies of the brain, demonstrating functional plasticity that parallels behavioral plasticity – in this case, visual learning. This knowledge was already successfully applied to improve visual sharpness in people with visual deficits with various origins, for a wide range of ages.
As we age, our eyes begin to transfer more blurred images to the brain than beforehand. When the brain receives blurry input from the eyes, the more delicate details of the visual image are perceived as having lower contrast than in reality. Thus, in the case of age-related near vision deterioration, the initial contrast sensitivity is lower than normal. Numerous studies of perceptual learning demonstrate how to improve eyesight by forcing the nerve cells of the visual system of the brain to interpret information at their maximum capacity (e.g. with a very low contrast). Using this approach, it is possible to significantly enhance the perception of blurred or low-contrast images. Based on a perceptual learning methodology, GlassesOff promotes a cross-talk between nerve cells within selective neuronal circuits of the brain. The best-characterized perceptual phenomenon based on such neuronal cross-talk that is relevant to GlassesOff’s methodology is termed “filling-in”. In vision, filling-in is responsible for the completion of missing information. Such a mechanism of completion is a basic feature used in normal visual analysis for processing contours and objects. Likewise, edges play a central role in determining the appearance of color and light of surfaces through similar filling-in mechanisms. GlassesOff utilizes this filling-in phenomenon in order to compensate for the missing information within the imperfect visual input received from the eyes due to the inevitable age-related near vision deterioration. Moreover, a similar method applied to young individuals with normal vision, was also shown to improve visual acuity to better than 20/20.
Most importantly, the gains obtained in low-level contrast detection tasks used by GlassesOff are transferred to high-level visual functions, such as letter recognition and reading. This should not come as a surprise, since the stimuli and protocol in the GlassesOff’s method promote contour perception. Moreover, it was previously shown that letter recognition and contrast sensitivity are directly related. Finally, GlassesOff gains are retained for years after the basic program has ended, and by occasionally continuing to use the Ongoing Vision Care program, further natural deterioration expected with age is significantly delayed.
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