Is it possible to see underwater with clarity, just with our bare eyes? Anna Gislen, from Lund University in Sweden, says that it may be possible. To test her hypothesis, she set up an experiment where she analyzed how good the vision of Moken children is, who have lived on the islands of Southeast Asia for hundreds of years. From a very young age, these children learn to swim and dive. In Gilsen’s study, published in Vision Research, she had Moken children dive underwater and look towards a panel that would show vertical or horizontal lines – they would then have to report which direction the lines were going once they surfaced. Each time they dived the lines became thinner, making the task more and more difficult.
The results of the study were that Moken children could see twice as well as Europeans who performed the same experiment.
According to Gislen, to have had results like this, Moken children must have some kind of fundamental adaption that changed how their eyes worked. She wanted to know whether one could learn this ability and get better with practice. Thus, in a follow up experiment over a full month, she had the European children – who initially has underwater vision far worse than the Moken children – train over 11 sessions, after which they reached the same quality of vision as the Moken children.
More studies may need to be done in this area, but these early results are very encouraging: it would appear that one can vastly improve their underwater vision, just by practicing.
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