You will find many statements in literature and on the Internet claiming that there is no cure for myopia. My experience shows the reverse to be true. These two images represent what my naked-eye vision was like before and after 18 months of hard work on improving my vision. In fact, the "Before" image is too good, but it is not easy to represent what myopic eyes truly see by means of a static image. When I tried to read a similar chart in the ophthalmologist's consulting room in September 2011, I could barely make out the top row. It was that fact which prompted me to do something about this appalling situation. Improvement since then has been slow but steady and is still ongoing. Just because I can read the 20 line from 20 feet away does not mean I have perfect vision. At least, not yet at the time of writing this! The 20/20 line is readable, but by no means is it pin-sharp. My goal now is to read the bottom two lines and achieve perfect sharpness. Progress updates will be published at the foot of this article.
I tell my story below to give hope to those afflicted with myopia who want to embark on a program of vision improvement. I am referring here to the perfectly ordinary type of myopia that affects more and more people with every passing generation as our lifestyle increasingly places our horizons a couple of feet in front of our noses, in the form of computer screens, tablets and mobile phones, instead of hundreds of yards away out of doors in the fields, which is where our eyes were designed to spend most of their waking hours.
Adaptation for near vision comes at a price for many of us: the weakening of our eye muscles from lack of use, the gradual loss of our ability to focus at distant objects and, eventually, the distortion of the eyeball resulting from our subconscious attempts to ease the strain of long-term focusing on objects close to us, particularly if we wear prescription minus lenses. I have read countless statements in print and online which state, categorically, that an eyeball that has grown too long cannot revert back to its former shape; that although it can increase in length from front to back, it cannot shrink back again. Many optometrists and ophthalmologists claim that (a) minus lenses do not worsen the myopic condition; (b) wearing plus lenses for close work does not help to reverse the condition; and (c) myopia cannot be cured. All three statements are, from my personal experience, wrong.
The problem is that when studies are carried out with human subjects, they tend to involve trials that last for short periods of time: hours, days, weeks or at most months. If someone's myopia has not improved after one or two months of wearing plus lenses for a couple of hours per day, then that particular therapy is dismissed as being ineffective. Logically, though, if it takes years to become myopic, it should take a proportionate length of time to make the eyes adapt in the opposite direction. In my opinion, trials should follow human subjects for at least one whole year of therapeutic training before any conclusions can justifiably be drawn, if my own experience is anything to go by.
I shall now describe my own experience, in the hope of encouraging others to embark on a programme of myopia reversal. Those who are successful at reducing or even curing their myopia have a duty to convince the medical establishment, once and for all, that myopia, even axial myopia, is reversible. It is hard work. It needs commitment and dedication. Progress is extremely slow and at times appears not to be happening at all. There are good days and bad days. But perseverance pays off in the end to those who are willing to stick at it.
I developed myopia in my school years, starting at about age 15. It would regress during the school holidays and return during periods of intensive study. After school and university my vision remained mildly myopic (mainly in one eye) but fairly stable for the next eight years until my late twenties, at which point I took a desk job that involved reading typescripts and printed proofs for all of my working day. As a musician, during weekends, I would read music scores instead of books. My vision was never focused more than a couple feet away, seven days a week. At the end of a working day, my blurred vision would generally clear on the way home. After a year or two, the clearing would happen more reluctantly, during the evening or overnight. Then I found that my blurred vision would not clear even after a good night's sleep. Eventually the blur was permanently present, day and night, even after seaside vacations staring at far horizons, and I lost my long-distance vision, seemingly for ever. By then, my myopia had certainly progressed from pseudo-myopia (where the ciliary muscle goes into spasm and is unable to relax) into true myopia (where the eyeball has lengthened). I had always resisted wearing glasses because they felt unnatural and repellent, and because all my instincts told me that they merely masked the problem rather than curing it: I didn't want this "fake" vision that spectacles provided. I wanted my "real" vision back again. But I was forced to wear spectacles for driving when I could no longer read the road sings and street names. Later I started to wear contact lenses because I was told that my eyes would not deteriorate as rapidly as they would with glasses. (Now, of course, I know that the reverse is true, unless you are prepared to spend your days inserting and removing your contacts every time you switch between distance viewing and close work.) I was prescribed contact lenses with dioptre strengths of minus 2.50 in one eye and minus 1.0 in the other eye, and I wore them every day from the moment I woke up in the morning right up to bedtime. I must have been crazy, but I was vain and I knew no better!
Inevitably, the myopia got worse and I knew I needed a stronger prescription, but kept putting off going to the optician's. The first wake-up call (there have been two of these, as you will find out) came on vacation in Paris. I was in a self-catering apartment. On the first morning I went out to buy some bread for breakfast having neglected to put my contact lenses in my eyes. I stepped out of the hotel into the unfamiliar street. To this day I recall the sense of panic as I found that I could see no further than a couple of feet in front of my nose. I literally had to feel my away along the stone frontages of buildings until I reached the boulangerie, which I knew was a few yards further down the street. I knew then the terrible truth: those contact lenses had ruined my vision.
On my return to England I began to look for a solution. There was no Internet in those days, but I consulted everything I could find in the libraries on how to reverse myopic vision. It did not look promising. All the articles I consulted told me, categorically, that myopia was irreversible. In the few self-help books on the subject of eyesight there was a lot of vague advice about relaxation, nutrition, diet and lifestyle, but little in the way of scientific explanation of what actually caused the physical processes involved in the eyeball's lengthening and how to activate those processes to promote adaptation in the opposite direction. I tried Bates's recommendations, but I was sceptical of much of what he wrote: not only did it seem outdated and unconvincing, but some of it was downright contradictory. My eyes did not improve much with Bates's methods, but he did at least make me discard my contact lenses and avoid wearing spectacles anywhere other than in the car. I preferred to go around with blurry vision than continue using minus lenses. My vision continued to deteriorate over the next twenty-odd years because of my job and my lifestyle, but at least it was happening more slowly than it would have if I had worn minus lenses. My last prescription for glasses (which I only wore for driving and nothing else) was minus 3.00 in one eye (with minus 0.50 cyl. and 180 axis) and minus 2.00 in the other. This was an under-correction, at my request, and was the lowest prescription that the optometrist was prepared to give me. The degree of my myopia seemed to fluctuate according to how much time I spent at the computer screen and how much time I spent out of doors, but always within a fairly narrow range. From time to time I'd look for information on the Internet, but there wasn't much of interest.
During the summer of 2011, I became aware that my vision had deteriorated again, presumably due to too much computer work (I now earn my living by editing and typesetting books on-screen) without adequate breaks. And in September 2011, at the age of fifty-seven, I suffered a bad bout of ophthalmic shingles on the left side, which caused my left eye to become temporarily blind. Fortunately the sight came back within a few weeks, but follow-up tests at the eye clinic brought it home to me just how weak my vision had become. I reckoned I would no longer get away with minus 3.00 as an under-prescription, as I couldn't read the 20/20 line with my glasses on. This was my second wake-up call. I was advised to wait a few months to let the effects of the eye medication wear off and allow the eye to settle down before getting a new prescription. I determined that before getting a new prescription, I would try once again to reduce the degree of my myopia. To this end, I started up my researches once more. This time I found a lot more useful information on the Internet, as well as new books on the subject, which I ordered and read. All my instincts, this time confirmed by some of what I read, told me that myopia was a fluctuating (and reversible) condition that progressed or regressed in response to environmental stimuli. Unfortunately, our lifestyle is full of the wrong type of stimuli and is far more conducive to myopia's progression than to its regression. When I go out and about, I'm always astonished to see how few people live their lives without lenses in or over their eyes. Many of my friends wear glasses dawn to dusk, and never take them off. I see far too many children with spectacles on too. Since most people don't need readers (plus lenses) for distance viewing, it's likely that most of these spectacle-wearers, of whatever age, must be myopic. And I would bet that quite a few of the adult faces without spectacles on them have contact lenses in their eyes. Restoring one's vision takes dedication, patience and discipline. Few have the patience or the inclination. Certainly among my friends and acquaintances, I don't know anyone who has even thought of attempting it.
The three websites that helped me the most in my efforts to improve my vision during 2012 were:
Of the three, the most important for me was the Power Vision System, described in the book by David De Angelis. It is complemented by a useful forum and videos. The site called "For Best Vision", run by an ophthalmologist, is fairly technical and occasionally difficult to understand, but it has some useful dynamic focusing exercises. He is particularly keen on exercises that help to improve convergence and divergence skills.
In one year I restored my vision to the extent of being able to read (in September 2012) most of the 20/20 line on the Snellen chart on most days — something I was last able to do about more than three decades previously. By contrast, in December 2011, when I began my attempts at restoring my vision, I could barely make out the 20/70 line. Improvements are happening day by day, albeit more slowly now. I have a fanciful theory that improvement decelerates to ensure accuracy and avoid over-compensation. Suppose you halve your refractive error in six months (for the sake of argument). If you continue to halve your error every six months, further improvements will become progressively smaller the closer to zero your refractive status becomes. When you are at, say, –0.75, you certainly wouldn't want a big 1.5-dioptre spurt forward (if something of this order was the amount of your initial improvement), as this would take you into hyperopia! I think of it a bit like landing a spacecraft on Mars or braking a car to a gentle halt at the red lights rather than screeching to a stop in front of them. When I can see 20/10, then I might think about getting that new prescription!
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Since I wrote this article, a wonderful set of web-based resources for those afflicted with myopia has been developed. It is eloquent, educational, elegant and highly informative. Above all, it is effective. It now contains massive amounts of useful advice, as well as an active forum. New articles appear frequently. This is the resource that should now be your first port of call:
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Progress Record, measured on standard Snellen chart, from 20 feet away in artificial light, in the evening.
Starting point: September 2011
Unable to read 20/20 line with –3.00 diopter glasses on
All readings below are with naked eye
20/70 line with difficulty after a few weeks of vision improvement exercises
20/20 line (most of the letters) visible on the Snellen chart on most days
20/20 line usually readable in its entirety after a few minutes of effort
20/15 line beginning to swim in and out view, with one or two letters just about decipherable from time to time
20/20 readable every day, but still not without some effort
20/15 a few letters occasionally visible
20/10 one letter momentarily visible
20/20 line is readable after just a few seconds of focusing
20/15 one or two letters visible every day, but with considerable effort
20/10 no change
A spurt of improvement this month after increasing the intensity of exercises. I see the progress not so much in terms of Snellen readings but in terms of general, day-to-day quality and stability of vision. The periods of clear vision are lengthening and the periods of myopic vision are shortening. As for the Snellen chart, it seems blacker and more sharply defined. The difference is that what was once "barely decipherable" has now become "easily readable".
Winter vision and nighttime vision in particular have improved.
No more updates needed as the 20/20 line is readable every day and it's a very long time indeed since I have even thought about my vision. No glasses needed at any time and no signs of presbyopia either. I can read the smallest typefaces with the naked eye without difficulty.
I will not be posting any further updates. Good luck to anyone who may be inspired to restore their own vision.