Aaron Seitz, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Riverside has developed a new app, called UltimEyes, that when used for just a short amount of time, can help athletes, baseball players in particular, see up to 31% better without the need for prescriptions.
From Popular Mechanics:
In the journal Current Biology, Seitz worked with 19 players on the University of California, Riverside, baseball team, and showed that his app UltimEyes lengthened the distance at which the players could see clearly by an average of 31 percent. After using the app for 30 25-minute intervals, players saw an improvement that pushed many of them beyond normal 20/20 vision, including seven who attained freakishly good 20/7.5 vision—meaning that at a distance of 20 feet, they were clearly seeing what someone with normal vision could see at no farther than 7.5 feet away.
“We were using standard, on-the-wall eye charts,” Seitz says. “Normally, you stand 20 feet away, but our charts only measured down to 20/10 [vision]. So we moved some of these players 40 feet away from the eye chart and they were still reading the low lines. I was shocked.” Seitz has also calculated that, by measuring the improvement in batting of his test subjects against other players, his app made the team score enough extra runs to win at least four additional games throughout the season.
The way the app works is UltimEyes presents you with the increasingly difficult challenge of identifying faint and fuzzy Gabor stimuli, which are shown against a hazy, gray background. Among other tests, the blurry blobs might slowly materialize on the screen, or you might be tasked to find multiple blobs as they grow slightly less faint. Each successful find is rewarded with a Pavlovian noise that sounds almost exactly the arcade game Pong. It isn’t exactly fun, but it’s challenging, and the sessions are short.
Though the name is UltimEyes, the app actually works the part of the brain that controls your sight, the visual cortex. When the brain sees an image, it’s actually the visual cortex that breaks down the information from our eyes into patterns called Gabor stimuli. Using this app, you’ll be able to train your brain to recognize those images, more quickly and from farther distances, to process the incoming data faster than you were able to previously.
There’s still more testing to be done, but this is certainly a breath of fresh air for those who suffer from eye issues currently and could possibly, remove the need for ballplayers who wear contacts solely to see farther distances.
While UltimEyes has only been tested on baseball players, there’s no reason why other athletes, say Wide Receivers and Safety’s in the NFL, golfers hitting off the tee and countless other possibilities this app may have for those wishing to improve their vision without the need of contacts and prescription glasses.