The University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry found that brain stimulation can assist in recovery of vision in people with macular degeneration. A single 20-minute session of non-invasive visual cortex stimulation resulted in improved effects in macular degeneration patients.
Peripheral vision is relied on heavily by people who suffer from macular degeneration, as they often lose central vision. When attempting to crowd or segregate an object from others in close proximity, further difficulties arise.
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) interventions reduce mechanisms in the visual cortex that contribute to crowding. This can improve vision in patients with central vision loss, especially when combined with perceptual learning techniques.
Ben Thompson, professor at the School of Optometry and Vision Science, said, “Perceptual learning can reduce letter crowding for patients with macular degeneration. However, perceptual learning typically requires intensive training, which may be a barrier for patients. Additionally, the learning does not always transfer to non-trained stimuli, that’s why this discovery is so promising, it addresses all of these concerns. Results of this study lay the foundation for future work investigating whether a-tDCS may be useful as a visual rehabilitation tool for individuals with central vision loss who are reliant on peripheral vision.”
Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss (more than cataracts and glaucoma combined), affecting more than 10 million Americans. It is considered an incurable eye disease caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina. The retina is the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them to the brain via an optic nerve. The macula, the retina’s central portion, is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye. It also controls our ability to read, drive a car, recognize faces, colors, and see objects in fine detail.
There are three stages of macular degeneration, with vision loss as the last. Despite there being no cure for macular degeneration, activities such as dieting, exercising, avoiding smoking, and protecting your eyes from ultraviolet light are all ways to decrease the overall risk.
For more information regarding the correlation between macular degeneration and brain stimulation, read the original article. Contact the professionals at Rohr Eye & Laser Center to experience personalized ocular care.
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