Have you ever been in a dimly-lit restaurant and struggled to read the text on the menu? A new app may offer a solution. ULTIMEYES, a game-like, brain-training app created by Aaron Seitz, was designed to improve vision and stall, or even reverse, the effects of aging on the eyes.
What does the app do?
The app is designed like a game, giving the player moving targets on fuzzy backgrounds to pinpoint as they appear. ULTIMEYES tries to engage players with positive reinforcements and increased levels of difficulty as players advance, much like any other game. Recommended use for vision improvement is four, 25-minute sessions per week for eight weeks. Performance is monitored by ULTIMEYES’ vision coaches and data can also be shared with users’ eye-care providers for additional monitoring.
How does ULTIMEYES work?
The goal of ULTIMEYES isn’t to change the eye itself but to change the way the brain processes visual information from the eyes. Seitz says that the app’s focus is “not changing how the eyes work, [but]making the brain more efficient at processing the information” [video source]. The science behind the app is called neuroplasticity, a term that refers to functional changes made in neural pathways in the brain. Therefore, the exercises should be seen as brain games instead of a fix-it for the eyes. If the way the brain visually perceives objects is changed, vision could improve because the brain would process information from the eyes differently.
What are the results?
After completing the app’s program, ULTIMEYES claims that participants can see as much as two additional lines on an eye chart and experience improvements in distinguishing objects in dim lighting or against hazy backgrounds.
Where’s the proof?
Many will surely doubt these claims, as well as the amount of real science behind the app. However, ULTIMEYES points to its own study with the University of California, Riverside’s baseball team. Seitz, an associate professor of psychology at the university, along with Professor David Ozer and Ph.D. graduate Jenni Daveau, led a study to see if “perceptual-learning approaches” could make a real difference in the way people perceive and operate in real life [information source].
The UCR trio selected members of the UCR baseball team and conducted vision assessments before the start of the season, followed by the brain-training exercises. Throughout the season, the team monitored athletic performance and compared it to the expected improvements for the season to see if player performance would be bettered beyond what was anticipated. What the team saw was more hits, fewer strikeouts, more gains on bases, and more runs throughout the season. Players who participated reported improvements in seeing in different lighting, seeing the ball, and hitting the ball. Is it the placebo effect? Maybe it is hard for the average person to tell exactly, but baseball players and fans at UCR probably won’t be filing complaints, considering that adding 41 more runs to this season is among the reported improvements.
Watch the video about the UCR baseball team study here.
Want to test it out?
[Featured Image by Victorrocha]