Here are some unconventional ways to improve your vision that you may not have heard of — they may surprise you.
You’ve probably heard that listening to classical music can improve your academic or work performance. It’s also been claimed that children exposed to classical music in the womb develop better than children who were not exposed. But can listening to Mozart improve your vision?
A Brazilian study suggests that the answer may be yes. Researchers tested medical students by playing them a recording of Mozart for 10 minutes before the students took a visual test. The results showed that these students performed better than their counterparts who did not listen to music.
In another study, researchers divided sixty participants into two groups. The groups then took a test that helps identify whether someone suffers from peripheral vision abnormalities or blind spots. The first group listened to Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos for ten minutes before the test; the second group sat quietly.
If you guessed that the Mozart-listening group scored better, you are correct!
Conclusive these tests are not – it is unclear whether the results related to Mozart’s music directly or just the fact that researchers stimulated the senses of participants (we wonder: Would listening to, say, heavy metal or rap have the same effect?).
But the tests are intriguing and suggest that there is more to visual acuity than, ahem, meets the eye.
Playing’s the Thing
Next time you tell your kids (or your husband) to stop playing video games and get outside for some fresh air, you might think twice. In a widely publicized study, researchers at the University of Rochester have shown that people who played action video games for a few hours each day over the course of a month improved their visual acuity by about 20 percent. The test measured the ability to identify letters within a crowd of other distracting symbols — similar to a standard eye chart.
“When people play action games, they’re changing the brain’s pathway responsible for visual processing,” says Daphne Bavelier, one of the UR researchers and a professor of brain and cognitive sciences. “These games push the human visual system to the limits and the brain adapts to it. That learning carries over into other activities and possibly everyday life.”
So the next time your kid asks for a Sony PlayStation, just think of it as Little League without the carpooling — another form of exercise!
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Belly Up to the Oxygen Bar
Though diabetics must control their sugar intake, a pilot study by scientists at Johns Hopkins and the National Eye Institute suggests that they can consume all the oxygen they want. According to the Johns Hopkins Medicine Web site, “Oxygen delivered through the nose may improve poor vision caused by diabetic macular edema, (which is) fluid buildup in the part of the eye responsible for central vision.”
Diabetic macular edema affects up to 10 percent of all patients with diabetes. It results when high blood sugar causes damage in normal retinal blood vessels and a decrease in the supply of oxygen and nutrients.
Researchers studied five diabetic patients who had macular edema. They had the patients breathe supplemental oxygen for three months. “The results were really dramatic,” says Peter A. Campochiaro, M.D., senior author of the study. The oxygen reduced buildup of fluids and swelling in the macula. Some patients even showed improved visual acuity, with the ability to see two lines higher on a standard eye chart.
Who knows what the next medical frontier might be? In the future, maybe glasses, like the dinosaurs, will become extinct.