What if there was a way to improve your vision using a $5.99 iPad app? While it might sound too good to be true, it’s actually grounded in science. UltimEyes, an app created by neuroscientist Aaron Seitz, gives your brain a visual workout and trains you to see farther than ever before. UltimEyes works by causing brain plasticity, which is the brain’s natural ability to adapt to its environment. By activating brain plasticity to occur in the brain’s processing center, the result is enhanced vision.
According to the creators of the half-game, half-eye exam app, using UltimEyes can turn back the clock on vision loss – whether you’d like to see better at night, read better in dim light, or improve your vision for sports or a demanding lifestyle, UltimEyes claims it can help you. Developed by Carrot Technology, a company that produces tools to improve vision, the app asks users to complete tasks such as clicking on hard-to-see targets while keeping users engaged with a point system.
The app works by presenting players with targets in the form of fuzzy, striped blobs, called Gabor stimuli, which are speckled across the screen of an iPad. The aim is to locate them and tap them away. By continually exposing your brain to these graphics, you’re forcing it to process the images more efficiently. In the long run, this results in clearer long-distance vision.
UltimEyes is easy to use – just follow the on-screen prompts and complete four 25-minute sessions per week for a total of eight weeks. Although results vary from person to person, many users report improvement in their vision after only three weeks; particularly with reading and seeing in dim lighting. Despite these promising results, researchers are unsure why the app is more effective in some individuals or how long the improvements last once the ‘brain training’ is discontinued.
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The app’s effectiveness has been tested in many academic institutions, including the University of California, Riverside. Since being able to see a baseball and correctly calculate where and when to swing the bat is crucial to scoring runs in baseball, the app was tested on a team of 19 baseball players from the school. Results were promising – after 30 sessions of using the app for 25 minutes at a time, the players’ vision was improved by 31% beyond 20/20 vision.
Out of the 19 baseball players tested, seven reached 20/7.5 vision, meaning they could see at 20 feet what someone with normal vision could see from 7.5 feet. Continued monitoring showed that with improved eyesight, the players using the app were able to achieve more runs during a game compared to players on the team who didn’t use the app. With the extra runs, the team would be able to win an extra four games during the baseball season.
The app has the potential to help more than just professional athletes and baseball players – users with strabismus, glaucoma, and age related macular degeneration can benefit from UltimEyes as well. In addition to UltimEyes, Seitz hopes to develop a larger set of programs that can be used to rewire the brain, such as to improve hearing and sharpen memory skills.