Eye Exercises Can Reduce Our Natural Blind Spots

And, that's great news for people losing their vision
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2015 2:05 PM CDT

(Newser) – Your blind spot could shrink using simple exercises, say researchers who think they could help prevent blindness and possibly even restore sight to those who've lost it. All humans have blind spots due to the lack of photoreceptors where the optic nerve passes through the retina. But we don't notice them because our brains use nearby photoreceptors to fill in the gap. The New York Times reports researchers from Australia's Queensland University used a computer monitor, an eye patch, and a picture of a ring placed directly into the blind spot to increase the sensitivity of blind-spot-adjacent photoreceptors in 10 subjects—admittedly a very small sample. After 20 days of training, the subjects had shrunk their blind spots by 10%, Live Science reports.

That change, while "quite an improvement" in vision, was not noticeable to the subjects, Live Science reports, though that wasn't necessarily the important part. "The real significance is that our data shows that regions of blindness can be shrunk by training, and this may benefit people who suffer from pathological blindness," says Paul Miller, author of the study. Miller says eye exercises similar to the ones used by researchers could help fight blindness caused by macular degeneration and could be combined with other new technologies to help people see again. (New technologies such as bionic eyes currently helping blind people read again.)

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