Electrical Current Jolts Vision Into Sharper Focus

If you find yourself struggling to focus on an object, there may one day be an alternative to reaching for your glasses or popping in your contact lenses. Scientists have found that by delivering a mild electrical current to a certain part of the brain they can affect how it processes visual information, leading not only to sharpened focus for the subject, but possibly a new understanding of our sense of sight as well.

Stimulating the brain with electrical currents has shown promise in a number of different areas of healthcare. These include treating psychological disorders, preventing migraine attacks, rehabilitating stroke victims and even helping us to learn from our mistakes. So for researchers at Vanderbilt University, adapting the technology to improve eyesight wasn't all that big of a leap.

"It's actually a very simple idea," says co-author Geoff Woodman, associate professor of psychology at Vanderbilt. "This kind of stimulation can improve cognitive processing in other brain areas, so if we stimulate the visual system, could we improve processing? Could we make someone's vision better – not at the level of the eye, like Lasik (laser treatment) or glasses, but directly at the level of the brain?"

Woodman and his team recruited 20 healthy subjects with normal or near-normal vision. The subjects were shown a pair of identical lines and asked to determine whether they were perfectly aligned or set apart. This particular test is said to be more sensitive than the conventional eye chart at your doctor's office, so the researchers say it allowed for more precise assessments of the subjects' vision.

Then a very mild electrical current was delivered to the visual cortex located at the back of the brain for around 20 minutes . The subjects then took the test again, with around 75 percent of the group displaying measurable improvement, with the benefits lasting as long as two hours.

Source: gizmag.comAdded: 18 July 2016

Tags: healthcare