Friday, December 13, 2013

Can an App Improve Vision?

“Can an App Improve Vision?”
December 10, 2013

            An app called GlassesOff has been scientifically tested to decrease the need and in some cases even eliminate the need for using reading glasses. A condition that comes with age, presbyopia, causes the eye’s lens to lose elasticity. This condition decreases the ability of focusing on near objects and resulting in the need for reading glasses. The app forces on a 12-week, scientifically tested training program that forces the mind to focus on fuzzy, striped images called Gabor patches that are hard to see with a similar background.
          The app is a self-guided app available for the iPhone that begins with a vision tests, followed by personalized eye training once a week for 12 to 15 minutes per session. The point of the training is to have users decide which way the E is facing and in the end they receive a personalized assessment of how much the app is helping the overall wellbeing of the eye. Although the app is free for two to three weeks, it will eventually cost users $59 for four months. The app does not claim to cure any conditions, it is able to reduce the struggles of focusing. GlassOff uses “perceptual learning to improve vision, which has proved viable in several scientific studies, including in people with lazy eye.” Although research is still needed for the app to determine, different kinds of visual training that would be added to the app.

           This app seems to make it better for the brain to interpret information that is poorly received form the eyes, however it does not seem to be long lasting. The article states that some people will still need to use glasses after using the app and spending $59 on it. The app itself has a very difficult market to enter, that of the medical and science market. The social market is also a very skeptical market that may not accept the app as an actual cure for any sort of visual problems. The article does not state if this has been used abroad, however lets assume that it has been, since the iPhone is sold over seas. If this app is being taken into consideration abroad, how will the scientists behind it be able to gauge the improvements of human eyes with such large variety of people. The food intake should be a question for those researching the app because not everyone has the same diet, which could affect one’s eyesight. Additionally the use of electronics could also influence a decreasing amount of clarity. Can this app also be a cause of eye problems? I believe that this app should have been further researched and the markets analyzed before having been released. In France, for example, going to the doctor is free, therefore why would a person pay $59 for only four months for an app that will still leave them with the need of reading glasses?

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