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    Virtual reality on the horizon for treatment of glaucoma


    Likewise, reducing activity for these cells reduces axon growth. Experiments in animal models of glaucoma have reinforced that finding, he said.

    Virtual reality could provide the needed stimuli by using effects that activate different retinal ganglion cells, Dr. Huberman said.

    "We can now know what's going on in the retinal and in what locations the damage is," he said.

    For example, simulations of falling trigger physical sensations. He recalled stepping backward after seeing a virtual reality depiction of a snake.

    The lab has begun recruiting subjects for a clinical trial in which the researchers will test their baseline vision, provide virtual reality stimulation, then retest the patients' vision to look for improvements.

    For the approach to work in humans, they will have to spend a lot of time using virtual reality devices, said Dr. Huberman, perhaps a half hour per day. So designers will have to "make it entertaining or at least not boring."

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