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Sci Rep. 2012;2:278. doi: 10.1038/srep00278. Epub 2012 Feb 23.

Training the brain to overcome the effect of aging on the human eye.

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School of Optometry and Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA.


Presbyopia, from the Greek for aging eye, is, like death and taxes, inevitable. Presbyopia causes near vision to degrade with age, affecting virtually everyone over the age of 50. Presbyopia has multiple negative effects on the quality of vision and the quality of life, due to limitations on daily activities - in particular, reading. In addition presbyopia results in reduced near visual acuity, reduced contrast sensitivity, and slower processing speed. Currently available solutions, such as optical corrections, are not ideal for all daily activities. Here we show that perceptual learning (repeated practice on a demanding visual task) results in improved visual performance in presbyopes, enabling them to overcome and/or delay some of the disabilities imposed by the aging eye. This improvement was achieved without changing the optical characteristics of the eye. The results suggest that the aging brain retains enough plasticity to overcome the natural biological deterioration with age.

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