New iPhone app claims to reduce, or even eliminate, the need for reading glasses

“In presbyopia, the eye’s lens loses elasticity with age. The ability to focus on near objects deteriorates, resulting in the need for reading glasses,” Laura Johannes reports for The Wall Street Journal. “A 12-week, scientifically tested training program, newly available as an iPhone app, uses a technique called perceptual learning to reduce — or even eliminate — the need for reading glasses.”

“A 30-person study published in February 2012 in the journal Scientific Reports found that after trying the program — now on sale as an iPhone app called GlassesOff – participants on average could read letters 1.6 times smaller than they could previously,” Johannes reports. “The program is much more likely to show improvement in adults 40 to 60 years old, scientists say.”

GlassesOff is free for two or three weeks after a user signs up. To continue using it after that costs $59 for four months. The company, which has offices in Israel and New York, is offering a temporary $10 promotional price,” Johannes reports. “After the initial program, the company offers a personalized maintenance program of one or two sessions per week at extra cost.”

Read more in the full article here.

34 Comments

    1. Give away the razor and rip them off on the blades.

      As one WITH presbyopia and one who makes a living with my eyes, I’m calling bullshit on this app. What you do as you get older is get a special set of lenses with a large midfield and a small close field for when you sit at a computer or bank of monitors. Any good Optometrist can set you up with a pair.

      PS- Am I the only one that is tiring of in app purchases designed to mine the wallets of customers?
      I would rather pay a flat price and be done with it.

      1. That’s the sad future of “services” economy instead of products. Even the free ones, you keep paying by giving up personal info willingly (Facebook) or unwillingly (web tracking, clickthroughs).

        Even cars aren’t immune. Those with OnStar… they’ll still track your whereabouts even if you’re not paying for a plan.

  1. Misleading a bit?

    A lot of glasses are needed for astigmatism. And there are many variations of astigmatism. You can’t “correct” this without “lensing” which is non-spherical.

    In practice this means that a one correction product can’t fit all people who use “reading glasses.”

  2. There are two general types of people who wear glasses: those who have been wearing them for the most of their adult life, and those who are over 50, and who used to have perfectly good eyesight until their eyes became old and started to lose elasticity (see the first sentence of the article).

    This product is apparently for this group of people. While it may not be as large as those who have been wearing glasses throughout their life (due to myopia, astigmatism, or any other condition), this group is still rather large, and is growing (as people continue to live longer and longer).

    As a man who never needed glasses my entire life, and had considered myself to have a perfect eyesight, at the age of 51, I am beginning to notice the first symptoms of presbyopia (struggling to read fine print). If this application in fact does what they claim it to do, I’d be curious to try it out, as it is a bit of a hassle having to always think about carrying glasses in the pocket, in case I need to read some fine print somewhere.

  3. I just turned 50 and for the first time in my life I need reading glasses. I use them quite often when using my iPhone and keep wondering if a larger screen would solve the problem. Apps like this one seem like you have to keep paying them and maintain your improved vision. Is there a solution other than just zooming in, which works only some of the time depending on the App I’m in or situation.

    1. Just increase the font size on your iPhone. That will greatly reduce the need for reading glasses.

      Also get the app Mag Light. It uses the iPhone’s camera and flash to magnify small print and illuminate if necessary. Both magnification and illumination are easily adjusted. Works great, especially for fine print on medicine bottles or lists of ingredients/cooking instructions.

  4. Have you ever heard this disclaimer on the radio…

    These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.

    Well, presbyopia is a disease, which this app claims to be able to treat on the basis of a single published report. Until this research is replicated, I’d be skeptical.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see this app disappear from the App Store fairly soon, but not before a few people part with their money and achieve no lasting benefit.

  5. (Warning, mini-lecture ahead!)
    No miracle cure, but here’s what’s working best for me at the moment:

    I have one of each every day, beside the usual stuff:
    1) I•Caps ‘Eye Vitamins’ with Lutein and Zeaxanthin
    2) Radiance brand Bilberry 1000 mg caplets
    3) Some other added dry bilberry capsules. It doesn’t seem to matter which, but I like HerbalFactors ‘Eye Factors’ with 2 mg Lutein.

    I have sterile isotonic buffered eyewash around for when my eyes get dried out. I also try to work in environments with humidity control. 30%+ in humidity is best. Below that is no go for me for long periods of time.

    I take eye breaks at regular intervals that include some closed-eye calisthenics and warming of my eye balls via my friction-heated hands. I also spend a couple minutes staring at the distance without glasses. I’ve read that focusing on something 20 feet away is adequate.

    At this point I’m using 1.5 diopter glasses.

    When I’m working on small tool techy stuff, I have a incandescent bulb (halide bulbs are great too) goose lamps around to provide good lighting. They provide a continuous tone light. I find that fluorescent lights promote eye strain. (Plus the typical bulbs are a mercury pollution danger, brilliant Green Peace <-not).

    Result: Better night vision, less eye strain, better focus resolution for a longer period of time during the day. Note that I'm 20:20 apart from viewing close up. My brothers and I are hoping all of this helps us avoid the macular degeneration my dad and uncles have all had. We shall see, hopefully.

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