Author Topic: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement  (Read 1017 times)

rachael talcott

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Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« on: August 08, 2017, 12:18:38 PM »
I've worn contact lenses my entire adult life (-5D left eye; -4.25D right eye, no astigmatism) and glasses before that starting at about age 7 or so.  But I started to develop some sort of allergy or sensitivity to the contact lens cleaning solutions.  I found one that was okay, but then the company went and changed the formula to add the stuff that I'm pretty sure I react badly to. I have one bottle left, but I started thinking about getting laser eye surgery.  But it's expensive and holds a not-tiny risk of side effects.

So I started poking around online and found various claims of people reversing their myopia.  There is obviously a lot of pseudoscience surrounding the whole concept, but I'm a retired biologist with time to do literature research and to experiment on myself.  I printed off an eye chart and measured my eyes with my contacts at 20/32, which is legal to drive, but not great. And then I tried wearing a pair of plus lenses (reading glasses) over my contacts for all near work.  It was doing something because I could look up from my computer, take the reading glasses off, and see pin-sharp through my contacts. So I kept reading and settled on a routine of not wearing lenses during my morning walk, wearing weak lenses most of the day, and only wearing full correction when I really needed to see in the distance (such as driving).

I'm not quite a month into this experiment and my right eye can read 20/20 with a lens that is 1.5 diopters weaker than my prescription, and my left eye with a lens 1.25 diopters weaker, although it feels very close to moving to 1.5 D even though it's not due for four more days, assuming linear rate of change.



I've written more details, both in terms of what I'm doing, and the biology behind it, on my blog.  Here's the very abbreviated version of what I'm doing:

My strategy is to expose my eyes to

1) as much myopic defocus as possible,

2) under bright light conditions when possible, and

3) while looking at shapes large enough to make out.

And here's the blog: https://earlyretiredbiologist.blogspot.com/2017/08/myopia-reversal-project-progress-report.html

As a scientist, I'm intrigued and am wondering what percentage of myopes could see improvement.  My working hypothesis is that myopia is like asthma (the progress of myopia can be slowed in children with a drug used to treat asthma) and that since many children outgrow asthma, maybe many of us outgrow myopia.  But we don't know it because we don't take our glasses off for long enough to allow our eyes to do whatever it is eyes do to maintain focus in non-myopic people.

Is anyone here interested in trying it and reporting data on how their myopia responds to something like this? I am not any kind of medical professional, just a curious retired biologist. 


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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2017, 01:13:29 PM »
I don't want to do a lot of specific data recording, but will offer a lightly supportive anecdote fwiw. 

A few years ago my optometrist mentioned her "pet theory" that a slight undercorrection would encourage the eye to develop its relevant muscles to the fullest (or some such... I might be fuzzy on the details behind her plan).  She asked if I'd be willing to try it; I said yes.  Since then the correction in my eyes has improved measurably, though far more slowly than yours.

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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2017, 01:43:13 PM »
There was also some evidence that exposure to strong light in childhood is needed for proper eye development. Something about a generational shift in lifestyle and glasses purchases. Maybe east Asia?

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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2017, 01:53:03 PM »
There is a guy selling a program to do this very thing at endmyopia.org.  I think he provides some information for free and charges for individualized coaching and advice.  Heard about it from a friend of a MMM friend recently.

Anyway, apparently exposure to bright light (like outdoor sunlight) and working the eyes by using a somewhat weaker prescription and focusing on far away stuff is all part of the program.

Rapid early improvement then slow but steady improvement is also apparently typical, so it sounds like you're on the same sort of track as the guy at endmyopia.

I'm not a customer, but I am pretty myopic (-7.5 or so), and am curious about the whole thing and may try it someday.
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rachael talcott

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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2017, 06:01:43 PM »
There is a guy selling a program to do this very thing at endmyopia.org.

I did see his (free) material, and from what I can gather, he is advocating reducing power of your glasses, and going outside more, which fits with what I'm reading in the scientific literature.  But he also tells people to do something called "active focus" which doesn't make a lot of sense.  Focus is an autonomic reflex, and while there are people who learn to control such reflexes (like heart rate and blood pressure) voluntarily, it's not easy. 

There was also some evidence that exposure to strong light in childhood is needed for proper eye development. Something about a generational shift in lifestyle and glasses purchases. Maybe east Asia?
Here is a meta-analysis correlating time spend outdoors with myopia.  The TL;DR version is that there is a 2% reduction in the risk of myopia for each hour/week spend outdoors. Maybe not the exact study you were thinking of, but the same general idea.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0161642012003636

I don't want to do a lot of specific data recording, but will offer a lightly supportive anecdote fwiw. 

A few years ago my optometrist mentioned her "pet theory" that a slight undercorrection would encourage the eye to develop its relevant muscles to the fullest (or some such... I might be fuzzy on the details behind her plan).  She asked if I'd be willing to try it; I said yes.  Since then the correction in my eyes has improved measurably, though far more slowly than yours.

Thanks.  That's encouraging.

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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2017, 07:40:16 PM »
I don't understand how this is supposed to work.  You get glasses to begin with because you were having trouble seeing things.

Shouldn't that have never happened if your eyes can self correct?

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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2017, 08:18:59 PM »
I thought this stuff had been disproved years ago. There are a group of people who follow the Bates method - as set out in her book "better eyesight without glasses", and it had a reasonable following. So much so, that there was a scientific study done - I think in Singapore - with children. While people can see better with conditioning (eg wearing a lower prescription), it actually causes more eye strain (or something), so the actual prescriptions of the children who were in the lower prescription group declined much faster than the other group, so the study was cancelled early. There have been other studies, for instance the BBC had a reporter follow the method for several months, and although she thought her eye sight was better, tests showed is was exactly the same. And there was one done in India, comparing the Bates method to some traditional Indian techniques. For both, there were no statistically significant changes.


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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2017, 09:35:56 PM »
I thought this stuff had been disproved years ago. There are a group of people who follow the Bates method - as set out in her book "better eyesight without glasses", and it had a reasonable following. So much so, that there was a scientific study done - I think in Singapore - with children. While people can see better with conditioning (eg wearing a lower prescription), it actually causes more eye strain (or something), so the actual prescriptions of the children who were in the lower prescription group declined much faster than the other group, so the study was cancelled early. There have been other studies, for instance the BBC had a reporter follow the method for several months, and although she thought her eye sight was better, tests showed is was exactly the same. And there was one done in India, comparing the Bates method to some traditional Indian techniques. For both, there were no statistically significant changes.

I'm not defending, nor am I a user of, endmyopia.org, but from perusing the site this afternoon, the guy's method there is different from the Bates method.  As you'd expect, he doesn't think the Bates method works either.
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rachael talcott

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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2017, 09:59:57 AM »
I don't understand how this is supposed to work.  You get glasses to begin with because you were having trouble seeing things.

Shouldn't that have never happened if your eyes can self correct?

There is a hypothesis in the literature that myopia involves a reaction in the eye similar to the reaction that happens in the airways in asthma.  In asthma, the smooth muscles of the airways are too thick (hypertrophic). Their contraction restricts the airway. In myopia, the smooth muscle that controls the lens of the eye is also hypertrophic. Its contraction makes the lens thicker, which allows better focus on near objects, but worse focus on far objects. The eye would presumably then attempt to compensate for the thickened lens by growing longer. There was a study in which kids were given atropine eye drops, and it slowed the progress of their myopia by about half. Atropine dilates smooth muscles, and it can be used in the treatment of asthma for that reason.

Here is their data: (https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-q8twruWBVcA/WXJPUWL4ddI/AAAAAAAAAFs/P9PatpQOvUgpRpWVyefIACjhw18hhsSaQCLcBGAs/s1600/atom.JPG)

Kids sometimes grow out of asthma.  We don't exactly know why, but we do know that the immune system changes away from a TH2 response (which is associated with allergies and asthma) toward a TH1 response.  It might also have something to do with better overall regulation of the immune system with age.

If myopia is biologically like asthma in its cause and some people grow out of asthma, then perhaps some people can grow out of myopia.  Obviously some adults have asthma, so I would not expect all people to grow out of myopia. But if this hypothesis is correct, we would not know it because everyone who is myopic as a child continues to wear corrective lenses into adulthood and the eyes don't have time to compensate. 

Obviously this is just a theory, but I think it's biologically reasonable.  Oftentimes things can seem biologically reasonable on paper but not pan out experimentally.  But you have to do the experiment to find out. 

I thought this stuff had been disproved years ago. There are a group of people who follow the Bates method - as set out in her book "better eyesight without glasses", and it had a reasonable following. So much so, that there was a scientific study done - I think in Singapore - with children. While people can see better with conditioning (eg wearing a lower prescription), it actually causes more eye strain (or something), so the actual prescriptions of the children who were in the lower prescription group declined much faster than the other group, so the study was cancelled early. There have been other studies, for instance the BBC had a reporter follow the method for several months, and although she thought her eye sight was better, tests showed is was exactly the same. And there was one done in India, comparing the Bates method to some traditional Indian techniques. For both, there were no statistically significant changes.



If the Wikipedia article on the Bates method is accurate, I'm not doing anything like the Bates method.  The four points given are: palming, or covering the eyes; visualization/mental images; movement of the eyes; and exposure to direct sunlight.  The only one that is even close is the sunlight, but the studies I'm finding on the effect of light are using 10K lux.  That's far less than direct sunlight.  So not really a fair comparison.

As I said above, I don't think wearing weaker glasses would work with children.

I'm planning on eventually asking my optometrist to do autorefraction after dilating my eyes.  That's the most objective measure of refractive error. I've had it done before and it came out the same as the prescription I've been wearing since I was a teenager, so if it changes, that's objective data.  I'm still just one person, though, and even if it objectively works for me, that doesn't mean it would work for everyone.



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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2017, 03:29:57 PM »
This is all very interesting to me because I was once told by an optometrist that glasses were supposed to be temporary in the first place.

Myopia frequency maps well to electronic device-use and researchers weren't sure why, until they realized you were probably using them indoors and discovered sunlight may do... something to the developing eye.

It's not exactly compelling, yet, but we do know the uptick in myopia is modern. I wonder if there could be some kind of therapy for it some day (or at least a preventive proscription). I have awful unaided vision, and I've always been curious how much we really know about the eye. I got the best of the worst twice - my astigmatism stops and walks itself back, and at some point I tore my retina and it healed, ah ha... yay...

I'm glad I can still see, and am not sure lasic wouldn't be looking the gift horse in the mouth, but then I never developed an allergy to lens solution either.

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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2017, 03:58:56 PM »
Posting to follow! Going to check out endmyopia.org and I hope that you'll continue to update this post with your data! So sick of wearing glasses!
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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2017, 05:16:08 PM »
Just an fyi if you are allergic to the contact solution, switch to Clear Care for cleaning (not the one with weird stuff in it, only the hydrogen peroxide solution). Because it has no preservatives, you should be okay unless you are allergic to the catalyst. I am allergic to practically every form of preservative but I can use that.


Edited because its been too long since chemistry class, couldn't remember the correct word.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2017, 05:22:45 PM by Caoineag »

rachael talcott

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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2017, 05:31:01 PM »
Posting to follow! Going to check out endmyopia.org and I hope that you'll continue to update this post with your data! So sick of wearing glasses!


I am planning on updating the blog once a month, and can pretty easily update here, too.  If you do try something, post back here if you can to let us know whether it works and to what extent.
This is all very interesting to me because I was once told by an optometrist that glasses were supposed to be temporary in the first place.

Myopia frequency maps well to electronic device-use and researchers weren't sure why, until they realized you were probably using them indoors and discovered sunlight may do... something to the developing eye.

It's not exactly compelling, yet, but we do know the uptick in myopia is modern. I wonder if there could be some kind of therapy for it some day (or at least a preventive proscription). I have awful unaided vision, and I've always been curious how much we really know about the eye. I got the best of the worst twice - my astigmatism stops and walks itself back, and at some point I tore my retina and it healed, ah ha... yay...

I'm glad I can still see, and am not sure lasic wouldn't be looking the gift horse in the mouth, but then I never developed an allergy to lens solution either.

There are lots of hypotheses about why myopia rises as countries develop.  It might actually just be more diagnosis.  But it could also be more time indoors, more near work, etc.

Just an fyi if you are allergic to the contact solution, switch to Clear Care for cleaning (not the one with weird stuff in it, only the hydrogen peroxide solution). Because it has no preservatives, you should be okay unless you are allergic to the reagent. I am allergic to practically every form of preservative but I can use that.

I have tried Clear Care and it does seem way better than others.  But it is also expensive given how much of it you're forced to use. A $10 bottle lasts about 6 weeks.  Another option would be disposable daily contact lenses, which come sealed in sterile solution. They are coming down in price.  The Equate (Walmart) brand is now ~$100/year/eye.  That would be about the same cost as my 2-week contacts plus clear care.  Or Lasik starts to look affordable once you start adding up the cost of contacts plus solutions over many years.

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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2017, 04:33:23 AM »
I'm quite intrigued by this because I've always wondered or hoped whether there was some way of improving my eyesight.

Although one thing I wanted to add was that my optometrist also said that the reason for myopia was because of the shape of the eyeball - not sure if she was meaning specifically me or in general. So based on that I figured it wouldn't make a difference what I do since I can't change the shape of my eyeballs...


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rachael talcott

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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2017, 09:30:00 AM »
I'm quite intrigued by this because I've always wondered or hoped whether there was some way of improving my eyesight.

Although one thing I wanted to add was that my optometrist also said that the reason for myopia was because of the shape of the eyeball - not sure if she was meaning specifically me or in general. So based on that I figured it wouldn't make a difference what I do since I can't change the shape of my eyeballs...


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That's what I thought when I first started looking into it.  It's in all the textbooks. But when you look at the scientific literature, it gets a lot more complicated.  Yes, there is a correlation between myopia and longer eyeballs, but it's not as strong a correlation as I would have expected. You can have two people who have the same elongation of their eyes, and one will need glasses and the other won't.  I have a graph on my blog if you want to see the research. 

There is also *some* evidence that eye length can change in adults.  Theoretically it would not have to change much -- about 1 mm to correct 3 diopters on average. That's still quite a bit when you zoom in on the relevant tissues, but other tissues do change and remodel over time, so I don't think it's totally crazy.  I'm still somewhat skeptical that my eyes will correct all the way, but clearly something is going on.

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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2017, 09:51:25 AM »
Definitely check out endmyopia.org. It's a great site, he's got a facebook group, you can follow along with real people who have real results.

From what I've learned from endmyopia in the last day:
Regarding eye length, when you do a lot of close up work, the ciliary muscle has trouble relaxing again for distance, and therefore focuses in front of your retina. So you get glasses to push that focus point back until it's projecting on your retina.

Problem is that we tend to keep those glasses on for close-up work, so your eye gets longer to compensate. Which means once again you're projecting in front of the retina for distance vision. So now you need a stronger prescription.

So he recommends two things:
1. Stop using your glasses for close-up work. Read at the point where it's just blurry, but you can read and let your eyes slowly adapt (called "active focusing"). If you can't read from 12 inches away without glasses, then you need to get what he calls "differential glasses". These will be less than your current prescription, used only for close-up work. Alternatively, you could wear plus lenses (reading glasses) over your contacts or over your regular glasses.

2. Step down your current prescription by about .25 diopters (except for driving, of course). Use these glasses for all distance time. Look for the blur, and practice active focusing, which is where you basically will your eyes to focus. Kind of like weight-lifting, where you will yourself to lift a heavy object.

So far, I've been doing step 1 for the last day, and I'm amazed by how far away I can read, and I'm noticing the bad habit I've had of reading really up close with my glasses on. Supposedly, this is what caused the damage in the first place.

Already, I've noticed that when I put my glasses back on for not-close-up time, it is literally clearer than it was before when I was reading up.

I'm going to do a bit more reading before I figure out exactly what prescription to order for distance work. Basically a bit less than what I currently have. According to the site, on average, you'll go down .25 diopters every 3 months. Which means I"ll be glasses-free in 3 years!
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rachael talcott

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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2017, 11:49:34 AM »
Definitely check out endmyopia.org. It's a great site, he's got a facebook group, you can follow along with real people who have real results.

From what I've learned from endmyopia in the last day:
Regarding eye length, when you do a lot of close up work, the ciliary muscle has trouble relaxing again for distance, and therefore focuses in front of your retina. So you get glasses to push that focus point back until it's projecting on your retina.

Problem is that we tend to keep those glasses on for close-up work, so your eye gets longer to compensate. Which means once again you're projecting in front of the retina for distance vision. So now you need a stronger prescription.

So he recommends two things:
1. Stop using your glasses for close-up work. Read at the point where it's just blurry, but you can read and let your eyes slowly adapt (called "active focusing"). If you can't read from 12 inches away without glasses, then you need to get what he calls "differential glasses". These will be less than your current prescription, used only for close-up work. Alternatively, you could wear plus lenses (reading glasses) over your contacts or over your regular glasses.

2. Step down your current prescription by about .25 diopters (except for driving, of course). Use these glasses for all distance time. Look for the blur, and practice active focusing, which is where you basically will your eyes to focus. Kind of like weight-lifting, where you will yourself to lift a heavy object.

So far, I've been doing step 1 for the last day, and I'm amazed by how far away I can read, and I'm noticing the bad habit I've had of reading really up close with my glasses on. Supposedly, this is what caused the damage in the first place.

Already, I've noticed that when I put my glasses back on for not-close-up time, it is literally clearer than it was before when I was reading up.

I'm going to do a bit more reading before I figure out exactly what prescription to order for distance work. Basically a bit less than what I currently have. According to the site, on average, you'll go down .25 diopters every 3 months. Which means I"ll be glasses-free in 3 years!

I did see his website (and some others doing similar things) and it all makes sense to me except the concept of "active focus."  Focus is an autonomic reflex like control of heart rate.  Maybe some people can control it, but I can't.  The website is a bit off-putting for a scientist, since he's sometimes down on the medical establishment for giving people glasses, like there is some giant conspiracy.  But other than the active focus, his actual recommendations seem reasonable.

If you keep trying his method, let us know how it goes.

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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2017, 11:57:19 AM »
I'll throw another wrench in here.

There also seems to be some natural changes in myopia as you age and as presbyopia sets in.  I'm 53.  I historically had quite a bit of nearsightedness and even more astigmatism.  Ten years ago I was around the -5.5 and -6 range for nearsightedness.  But in the last 10 years, I've lost almost 3 diopters of correction.  I'm about -3 and -2.75 now.  And while I need quite a bit of close up correction in my bifocal to read at computer screen distances... I've found my new superpower is really awesome uncorrected up-close vision. 
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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2017, 01:57:44 PM »
I'll throw another wrench in here.

There also seems to be some natural changes in myopia as you age and as presbyopia sets in.  I'm 53.  I historically had quite a bit of nearsightedness and even more astigmatism.  Ten years ago I was around the -5.5 and -6 range for nearsightedness.  But in the last 10 years, I've lost almost 3 diopters of correction.  I'm about -3 and -2.75 now.  And while I need quite a bit of close up correction in my bifocal to read at computer screen distances... I've found my new superpower is really awesome uncorrected up-close vision.

Spork, that's really interesting. Is there any difference in your lifestyle? Do you read less? Are you more active outside? Any difference in how much close-up work you do?
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rachael talcott

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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2017, 04:28:16 PM »
I'll throw another wrench in here.

There also seems to be some natural changes in myopia as you age and as presbyopia sets in.  I'm 53.  I historically had quite a bit of nearsightedness and even more astigmatism.  Ten years ago I was around the -5.5 and -6 range for nearsightedness.  But in the last 10 years, I've lost almost 3 diopters of correction.  I'm about -3 and -2.75 now.  And while I need quite a bit of close up correction in my bifocal to read at computer screen distances... I've found my new superpower is really awesome uncorrected up-close vision.

At least there is one good thing about getting older!  Part of the reason I started to investigate myopia correction is that I lost a little bit of correction in one eye without even trying.  It does make sense that presbyopia, which causes farsightedness, might cancel out nearsightedness. 

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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #20 on: August 20, 2017, 06:24:36 PM »
I'll throw another wrench in here.

There also seems to be some natural changes in myopia as you age and as presbyopia sets in.  I'm 53.  I historically had quite a bit of nearsightedness and even more astigmatism.  Ten years ago I was around the -5.5 and -6 range for nearsightedness.  But in the last 10 years, I've lost almost 3 diopters of correction.  I'm about -3 and -2.75 now.  And while I need quite a bit of close up correction in my bifocal to read at computer screen distances... I've found my new superpower is really awesome uncorrected up-close vision.

Spork, that's really interesting. Is there any difference in your lifestyle? Do you read less? Are you more active outside? Any difference in how much close-up work you do?

Not really.  I was assuming something similar to rachael: Mild farsightedness canceling out some nearsightedness.

It isn't life changing.  But it is something I keep telling my friends that all seem to want to get corrective eye surgery at about age 40.  Nope.  Don't do it.  You'll have 20-20 for a couple of years and then it starts changing again. 
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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2017, 08:04:36 PM »
@Spork, your theory makes sense intuitively. 

@RachaelTalcott, I should mention that I am in early 50s and clearly (ha ha) have presbyopia.  Perhaps that, rather than the slight undercorrection, was the cause of the shift.

Fwiw, I am now using Monovision (one lens focused for reading, one for distance).  The undercorrection began 2-3 years before Monovision, maybe 5 or 6 years ago.

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Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #22 on: August 21, 2017, 06:16:06 AM »
I've talked with my optometrist about this extensively.  Most people with glasses for nearsightedness will naturally experience improving eyesight in their 40s-50s.

rachael talcott

  • Bristles
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  • Posts: 286
  • Age: 43
  • Location: TN
Re: Myopia / nearsightedness improvement
« Reply #23 on: August 21, 2017, 06:44:02 AM »
So if presbyopia improves nearsightedness (which makes sense) are there people out there who no longer need distance correction because of presbyopia?  Spork's 3 diopter change suggests that there might be.  That's a big change.

I'm 43 and don't need reading glasses yet, even wearing my contacts, but I'm getting close to the age where I will.