Strobe-like eyewear designed to train the vision of athletes may have positive effects in some cases, psychologists have indicated.
The eyewear has lenses that alternate between clear and opaque states, producing a strobe experience.
In a test run by a team of Duke University psychologists who specialize in visual perception, nearly 500 people participated in more than 1,200 training sessions and had their visual abilities tested before and after they wore the eyewear. They completed visual-motor tasks, such as catching and throwing a ball, as well as computer-based tests.
Once the eyewear is removed, the theory goes, the brain's visual processing has been trained to see the ball's path more clearly. The Duke psychologists found subjects experienced some improvements in noticing brief stimuli and detecting small changes in motion after training with the eyewear.
The strobe eyewear has lenses that alternate between clear and opaque states at eight different rates, with a constant 100 milliseconds (one-tenth of a second) of clear vision between each opaque phase. At their most rapid flashing rate, the eyewear becomes opaque for 67 milliseconds, six times per second. At the slowest rate, they are opaque for 900 milliseconds, or 90 percent of each second.
"Our results varied, but stroboscopic training does seem to enhance vision and attention," said Stephen Mitroff, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke who led the research.
"Not every test we tried showed differences, but several showed significant improvements," added Mitroff.
The Duke team has presented its findings in a poster session at the Vision Sciences Society in Naples, Fla.