GlassesOff: iPhone app aims to boost your vision

Ucansi will launch an app early next year that promises to boost the performance of the brain's visual cortex, thus leading to vision improvements.

(Madonna des Kanonikus Georg van der Paele image by Jan van Eyck, public domain)

It's no secret that as we age, our vision deteriorates. Over time, our eyes tend to lose their ability to focus on nearby objects.

We're often told that poor eyesight is unavoidable and unfixable. So an iPhone app called GlassesOff that promises to "help you achieve over 80 per cent improvement in vision acuity" by training your brain to more efficiently process the blurred images that result from near-vision deterioration is bound to cause a stir.

GlassesOff is set to launch early next year on the iPhone. The company that makes it, Ucansi, says the app can help older people (and perhaps younger far-sighted folks like me) shed their reading glasses at least part of the time, and let others read without optical aids for longer than usual, reports New Scientist.

"As people age, the lens loses its focusing power, resulting in near-vision deterioration. Unable to focus the way we used to, images sent to be processed in the brains' visual cortex are unfocused and processing is slow and very difficult, resulting in a blurred image", as well as tired eyes and headaches, Ucansi says.

Uri Polat of Tel Aviv University, also a co-founder of Ucansi, developed software that trains users to detect patterns called Gabor patches (blurry lines created by varying a grey background) and adapt to them. The training purportedly helps users become better at the task, resulting in vision improvements.

Over the last three years, the treatment was tested on more than 100 patients suffering from presbyopia, and the volunteers reportedly were able to read more than two lines further down an optical chart after their training. The research was presented last month at a meeting of the Entertainment Software and Cognitive Neurotherapeutics Society in San Francisco.

The app sounds impressive, but it will cost you. It's expected to set subscribers back US$95 to start, which will cover an initial training session of three months during which users will train 15 minutes, three times per week. After that, there will be a monthly fee to maintain improvements.

Interested? Sign up at to be notified when the app launches.


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