Go back

Stop seeing manually, bro

A few years ago I wondered if you could do something about myopia. You know, the condition of not being able to see far away and needing glasses. For the longest time it has confused me how a great deal of the population depends on glasses to see. My whole life I've been told that's just a normal side effect of human technology and evolution: we can survive without perfect eyesight, so the "bad eyesight genes" are left in the gene pool. It's been established that myopia is caused by an elongated eyeball diffracting light wrong, and the general consensus seems to be that the shape you get is purely genetic. There was something about this explanation that felt off.

So every now and then I'd search the Internet for wisdom on the subject. I stumbled upon a few articles and videos about different techniques you could do to start fixing your eyesight. I wasn't the only one who wondered if there were natural remedies to myopia. These videos showed people doing some kind of focusing exercises. They'd first look at the tip of their finger, and then far off into the horizon, and back. It was part of a series of eye exercises called the "Bates method". I actually did this regularly for some time, but it didn't seem to help - which didn't surprise me. I mean, right after the exercise I could notice that everything looked sharper, but the effect would wear out very soon.

Later, I stumbled upon some more videos. Here a guy proposed another method called "active focus", and basically rejected the Bates method. I couldn't understand what "active focus" meant. The term itself seemed to imply that you have to make a conscious effort to see clearly - which ironically is the opposite of what it's really about, as I would later discover. It must have taken me at least a year or two, but I finally got it. I did active focus. It's all about relaxing your eyes and looking without actually looking. It's like a paradox. You take some distance from the text you're reading on your screen until you can barely see it. Then you just look "past" that text and simply accept that it's blurry. You absolutely do not start to squint or exerting your eyes to see better. If you can let go of that impulse and properly relax your eye muscles, the text will effortlessly get a bit sharper. This is actually a lot harder than it sounds, and the philosophy behind it is somewhat similar to what you can stumble upon when reading on meditation. You stop trying to see, and you shall see.

It makes perfect sense, though. Seeing shouldn't be something you do manually, but your eyes and brain should do the work automatically. Just let your body do what it would naturally do. That is if you don't have an actual condition that prevents it. After picking up on the active focus thing, I kept doing it daily for months. Sometimes I'd get lazy and drop it, because on a busy day it's very easy to ignore the "stupid eye sh*t". Luckily I managed to keep it up for long enough to get tangible results. I took an eye exam and guess what, my eyesight was at least 0.5 diopters better in both eyes than it should be. I was astonished. My eyesight had been the same for as long as I could remember, but now it was better. To me it was clear that active focus exercises do work. There are people who would rather sell you a book or an online course on it, but here's what it all boils down to:

1. Stop wearing glasses while doing close-up work, like looking at a screen. That is if you can actually see what you're doing.

2. Start doing active focus. Text is the best thing to focus on. If you want, you can stop wearing glasses and go out on walks without them (if it's safe!), but nothing is as effective as focusing on text. Trust me. As you progress, you increase the distance between yourself and the text. You can also wear reading glasses to get a bit of blur going. For the longest time I thought I might get my eyesight back if I just got rid of my glasses, but it's not that simple. Outdoors, where everything looks a bit blurry, you might get "blur adaptation", meaning you get used to the blur and your brain won't even try to improve your focus.

3. Moisturize your eyes with eye drops. Your eyes are most likely always a bit on the dry side, and dryness in the eyes may cause you to subconsciously squint a bit, hindering active focus.

4. You may want to try wearing glasses that are a bit weaker than your prescription. When your eyesight starts improving, you can easily ruin it with your old glasses that are too strong. Throughout this journey you'll be needing several pairs, so buying Chinese 3d printed glasses on eBay is the way to go.

5. The Bates method thing where you switch between focusing close and far away actually serves a purpose. Even with active focus training, you might still lock up your eye muscles while switching between these two states. You might notice that everything looks blurry after reading a text on your phone. That's because you locked up your muscles again.

6. Reduce caffeine and stress. They say this about everything, but yeah, it helps here too. Relaxing your eyes is a lot easier if you haven't just downed a six-pack of Red Bull.

So, if it's that easy, then why is everyone still wearing glasses and getting laser eye surgery? Are glasses just a big conspiracy where opticians purposely keep you from learning the truth so they can sell more glasses? Because it's not easy and we're easily distracted and discouraged. If you want to have any chance at fixing your eyesight this way, you need to make it a part of your daily life for years, perhaps for the rest of your life. For most people it's easier to just slap on a pair of glasses and keep seeing wrong. From what I've seen (heh), a lot of people simply use their eyes wrong. We live in a world that requires heaps of close-up work, so it's not surprising.

Obviously selling glasses is a thriving business, but there's no major conspiracy. Most opticians don't know much about this subject, because there's very little scientific documentation and experimentation behind it. Some eye doctors will tell you about "spasm of accommodation", however, which is a recognized condition that apparently causes pseudomyopia / aquired myopia. So, I don't know, maybe active focus only fixes this accommodation spasm? I'm far from an eye specialist so you shouldn't take anything in this column as scientific fact. Spider is talking out of his ass again. All I know is that active focus really did help me see better, and I want to encourage people to study it further. The last thing I want is people paying thousands to self-appointed "eye coaches" for the information I just gave you. In any case, there can be no harm in relaxing your eye muscles, right? What I know for a fact is that we didn't evolve to stare at smartphones all day.