A cheap and accessible training course could improve the lives of thousands of people who are partially sighted after a stroke or brain injury, a study has revealed.
The training could eventually be delivered on mobile phones or hand-held games consoles, according to the research.
A computer-based technique developed and assessed at Durham University improved partially sighted people’s ability to “see” better.
It could eventually broaden the portfolio of rehabilitation techniques for partially sighted patients.
Published in the academic journal Brain, the study tested the technique on patients who suffer from hemianopia - where sufferers lose half of their visual field due to stroke or other brain injury - which affects more than 4,000 people in the UK each year. Suffers can struggle with balance, walking, and are not normally able to drive.
By testing patients’ visual ability before and after the training, researchers found that patients became faster and more accurate at detecting objects, such as coloured dots or numbers, on a computer screen.
It is thought the test helped patients to compensate for their lost vision by better exploring their “blind field”, which is the part of the visual field affected by the brain damage.
Scientists believe patients learn to “see” better due to improved attention, concentration and awareness of their visual problems.
Lead researcher Dr Alison Lane, from Durham University’s Psychology Department, said: “This simple technique is a very viable rehabilitation option and in future could be easily accessible at low cost to everyone who needs it.”