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Smartphone App Can Delay Need for Reading Glasses, Scientists Claim

A new smartphone app developed by scientists in Tel Aviv could delay the need for reading glasses in older people by training the mind to process blurred images, researchers said Thursday.

The app, called GlassesOff, can help people read without glasses even when their eyesight begins to deteriorate, according to its developers.

As people age, their eyes lose their focusing power and images sent to the brain's visual cortex are unfocused. The processing is also slow and difficult -- resulting in a blurred image -- the apps' developers Ucansi explained on their website.

To train the brain to process blurred images, the app displays groups of blurry lines at several points across the screen and the user must identify when one appears in the center.

In trials, users with an average age of 51 were able to read two lines lower on an optical chart held 40 centimeters (16 inches) away from their faces after using the app 40 times.

Developer Uri Polat, from Tel Aviv University told the New Scientist magazine, "We're using the brain as glasses."