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Episode 43: Training Contrast Sensitivity and “Night Vision”

Video Highlights

- Night Vision (contrast sensitivity) is just one of the many aspects of vision that can be improved with training.
- High Contrast versus Low Contrast.
- 3 reference links to help train and improve your vision

Scroll down below the transcript for the app links

Hi everybody, Dr. Eric Cobb back with you.

I’ve just gotten back from the beautiful country of Denmark. I was there teaching for a couple of weeks. And while I was there, some interesting things happened that made me think about the eyes, and the visual system. So we’re going to talk about that this week.

Whenever I was there, it was kind of moving towards spring but it’s still kind of wintery. And almost the entire trip it was great. It was kind of gray, not really rainy, but not a lot of blue sky, not a lot of sun there were only a couple days the entire trip.

And it was very interesting, kind of going through the city and traveling over the bridges, and looking out and realizing everything’s a little bit dull visually. So what that made me think about is one element of vision that we talk about training a lot which is called contrast sensitivity.

Now, what this basically means is, visualize this for me, you’re out walking and there’s snow on the ground. And you look and see a black cat. If you see a black cat on white snow that’s high contrast. It’s usually pretty easy to see. By comparison, you’re in the same scenario and it’s a white cat on white snow. Now, that’s low contrast, and that white cat may be much, much harder to see, especially details about.

So why contrast sensitivity is so important, is that whenever we go to a doctor’s office and we look at the chart on the wall when we’re getting our numbers. When we have 20/20 vision, it’s possible to have 20/20 vision in a high contrast environment, black on white, but then, not be able to see at night; declining night vision. Or let’s say you’re an athlete and you’re playing under bright lights, and for whatever reason, you play at night and you just can’t make contact with the ball. All of those are problems with contrast sensitivity.

And the question I often get is can contrast sensitivity be improved? Now, people don’t usually say that. They’ll say hey, is there a way to work on my night vision? Do the vision drills that you guys teach, will they help me see better at night? Will they help me catch a ball better? And that’s all related to contrast sensitivity. And the simple answer, the good answer is yes. Now, I first became aware of this a number of years ago when some research was published that showed that video game players, particularly action video game players had better contrast sensitivity on testing than people who didn’t play video games.

Now, I’m not a big video game player, but I found that intriguing because basically, what it showed us was that there was a training effect that could be had to improve contrast sensitivity. So with that in mind, over the years, we’ve been developing a lot of different drills. And … and if you have our Vision Gym program, one of the things I always recommend is that as your eyes improve try doing a lot of the exercises in dim light. That, by its very nature will begin to help you train your contrast sensitivity. But this week, what I wanted to talk about is the advent of technologies making it even easier.

Underneath this video, what I’m going to do is list out a couple of really excellent training apps that I found for the iPhone and the iPad, and also for your desktop computer. When you begin using these, what you’ll find is that not only will they train you to see smaller and smaller objects, but also to really work on your contrast sensitivity. I’ve been using them now personally for about six weeks, uh, both the ones that I’m talking about, and I have found them to be fantastic uh, for vision training.

Just a reminder this week, that yes, we’ve been talking about habit change. We’ve been talking about a lot of different things in our lives. But I never want you to forget that Z-Health is a performance system. And the main focus for us is improving all aspects of performance, our eyes, our inner ear and balance system, our breathing and our movement and you can accomplish that in a multitude of different ways. Our job is just to figure out the fastest ways and share them with you.

This week, it’s about contrast sensitivity, improving your night vision, improving your ability to see objects that are moving quickly. And we’re going to show you how to do that in just a couple of easy-to-apply apps. So make sure that you check them out, and please give us feedback on this … these as you start to use them. Because I’m really interested in seeing, number one,  are they easy for you to use, number two, what kinds of improvements are you noticing and how well are they blending with your other vision training drills.

There you have it. I hope you have a fantastic week.

We look forward to talking to you soon.

Referenced Links:

The Vision Gym – Q&A with sample exercises: http://youtu.be/HKJCRAM9m40

Ultimeyes: http://ultimeyesvision.com (For iPad)

Glass Off: http://www.glassesoff.com (For iPhone and Android)

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