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Could New App Help Reduce Need For Reading Glasses?

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

david_highfield David Highfield
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – What if you learned that you could get rid of your reading glasses by spending a few minutes each week doing some exercises on your iPhone or iPad for a few months?

There’s now app for that.

Glasses Off promises to help people get rid of their reading glasses, but can it really do what it claims?

We asked Janet Duzicky to give it a try. She’s a real estate agent with Howard Hanna in Sewickley. Like many people, she has a few pairs of reading glasses and would love to be able to ditch them all.

So, the idea of Glasses Off, “Sounds really interesting to me,” said Duzicky.

She downloaded the app, and it gave her instructions for an initial test. She was asked to answer which direction a letter “E” is facing that flashes on the screen among a group of other “E’s.”

Later, she has to determine whether a fuzzy spot does or doesn’t flash on the screen.

“The eye functions as a sensor, but the vision occurs in the brain,” said Nimrod Madar, the CEO of Glasses Off.

He says it’s not about retraining the eye, but rather, retraining how the brain interprets what the eye sees.

“The exercises are meant to be fun,” said Madar.

In fact, Duzicky enjoyed them.

“It’s almost like the old video games when they first started,” she said.

“So, it is like a game, but it’s a very scientific game,” said Madar.

Dr. Ellen Mitchell, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh found the app intriguing.

One of her specialties is how the brain affects vision.

“We used to think that only children’s brains could relearn and learn new things. But, we’re finding there is some plasticity to the brain in adults, also.” said Dr. Mitchell.

While she thinks the theory behind Glasses Off is interesting, she can’t say whether it actually works. She questions the small number of participants in a published study and also the price.

The app is free to start. After an initial test, it tells you if you can be helped by it, but a few weeks in, you’re asked to pay $59 to continue.

“For $60 versus $3 readers, what’s the cost benefit here?” said Dr. Mitchell.

She said she needs to see more research to know if Glasses Off is onto something. However, she said if you don’t mind the price, it’s not going harm you to give the app a try.

Glasses Off claims the exercises stimulate neurons in your brain.

He said years of research have gone into it and that the company’s founder is a neuroscientist and an optometrist.

Madar also said research has shown the best results have come for people for between the ages of 40 and 60.

“We believe 80 percent of the people will be able to totally enjoy the benefits of eliminating their dependency on reading glasses,” said Madar.

Duzicky, however, will not be one of them. She had a positive impression of the app, and didn’t mind the price, but she says she wouldn’t take the time needed to complete the exercises.

Glasses Off says you’ll need 12-15 minutes three days a week, for a few months.

After that, Madar says you won’t lose what you’ve learned, but you will need to continue with occasional exercises to maintain your improvement. Those exercises come with an additional fee.

A favorable study for Glasses Off was co-authored by the dean of the University of Berkely’s School of Optometry.

However, CBS News reports that he was compensated with the promise of stock options.

While Glasses Off is only available for iPhones and iPads right now, Madar says an Android version is in the works.

For more information, visit their website here: http://www.glassesoff.com/

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