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The Times, 8 April 2017

In the news recently there has been a story about an app that says it can reduce the need to wear reading glasses. The app creators say that by playing a computer game for 30 minutes, three times a week, it will train and improve the brain’s ability to decode a blurry image, help users read and see close-up more clearly. The app is based on research that is still in its infancy, the main study testing the science behind the app only used a small number of participants. Although exciting, we do not know how this may translate to real world reading, nor the extent and longevity of possible benefits, and more research using larger numbers is needed.

There are many health-related apps now available. While empowering self-help and supporting preventative medicine has to be a good thing, it is useful to remember that the app sector is a global market and currently one that is poorly regulated. Very few health apps are validated and in many cases not based on science at all. In some cases, advice found online or on YouTube can be harmful. Another app which said it improves vision was recently fined in the US for failing to substantiate its claims.

Always follow the advice given to you by your optometrist, GP or ophthalmologist. If you discover an app or online advice which you think may help your sight, discuss it with your optometrist first, so you can make an informed decision as to whether it may be helpful and avoid those that may result in harm.

April 21, 2017