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M. K. Powers, Y. Morita, T. Hamada; Older Adults May Benefit From Visual Skills Training. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2007;48(13):5503.
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To determine whether a computerized visual skills training program can improve visual skills and reduce visual complaints in people over 50 yrs of age.
Sixteen adults aged 37 to 72 yr completed thirty sessions of a computer program via internet at home, in Japan (n=6), Canada (n=1), Russia (n=1) or USA (n=8). Subjects expressed high motivation for the program; each received an eye exam prior to participation. Sessions were 15 minutes daily of training in saccadic tracking, fusional vergence, and (cases younger than 50) accommodative facility training. Stimuli were viewed by subjects through red/blue filters, to allow monocular stimulation for tracking and accommodative facility and binocular fusional stimulation for fusional vergence. Methodology was four-alternative forced-choice psychophysics, with method of constant stimuli (for accommodation and tracking) or staircase presentation (for vergence ranges). Pre-post measures of optometric variables were examined, and learning curves were compared across age.
Learning curves did not differ with age for acquisition of either convergent or divergent fusional skills (p(t) = 0.45 and 0.26, respectively). However, subjects 50 or older were slower to learn saccadic skills than those younger than 50 (p(t) < .05). 80% of subjects, over all, had reduced symptoms. Subjects over 40 yr did not improve accommodative skills.
Individuals older than 50 may benefit from visual skills training via internet. All subjects over 50 years of age attained maximum levels of performance. Effectiveness probably depends on age, but also on motivation for success. Plasticity in early visual system processing clearly remains beyond age 50, and the internet may provide access to learning services that can enhance opportunities for all.
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