Horse Riding insight on eyes

Jemmeh posted this in the Discord
I thought it was interesting how much she says the way you use your eyes effects your whole body so much. Changes the tension and body position and how you ride your horse. Apparently other people in horse riding mention this too.”

This video contains some ideas that I’ve seen talked about already (I’d link it but I’m too lazy to find the forum thread). Most notably for myopics is what she says about eye sockets at 3:07.

I’ve never rode horses so I’m not sure how much of a common knowledge soft eyes vs hard eyes is but it sounds legit to me.


But those were about changing your posture to change vision. And yours is the other way around that makes it even more interesting. Good find.

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Interesting take on the difference between central focussing and relaxed gaze. It is almost advice against active focus. The visualisation exercise of looking through the back of your head is also interesting.

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Reminds me a bit of what Mark Warren says with his emphasis on peripheral vision.

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This is an awesome find. I’ve tried it, and it feels exactly the same as I described by “watching the whole view” in a long post a while ago:

It also has the same benefits, as:

my eyes feel totally relaxed, and a really sharp view (not clear flash, but sharper than my usual AF)

One of the advantage of this method that there is only movement is needed to activate the AF, there is no need for brightness and contrast (at least for me the more bright the object and the more contrast it has the easier to focus on it). Which means it makes AF much easier in bad light conditions (dawn / dusk / dark clouds / at night / etc).

As an addition to the second quote, with the method I described I can activate active focus at night on a poor lit street. Which I’ve found impossible otherwise.

So when I tried this “pull back the eyes” and “trying to looking out of the back of your head” it feels the same, and seem to have the same effects. But what is described in this video has two big advantage:

  1. Not even movement is needed (the method I described is a bit hard to do without any movement)
  2. I can easily activate it in close-up, which I was not able to do (consciously) with the method I’ve written about

Especially the latter is huge, especially because I’ve found that what she says about posture in the video is also true: not just my eyes feels more relaxed, but my neck and shoulders too. Which with I struggle a lot in close-up, especially if there is more than just a tiny bit of blur (and even then close-up creep is a thing)

What I would add that when you try to “pull back” the eyes, it’s not trying to pulling back with muscles. If you try that you just add tension to the face muscles. So in that way the “trying to looking out of the back of your head” description is better, though maybe a bit too abstract for many.


That’s a misconception about active focus, sorry. It’s a common one though, I see that many people associate active focus with central focusing. But it’s not a requirement. In fact, in my experience active focus without central focus is much more powerful. And while central focusing active focus may feel straining (for me definitely), without it it is more neutral if not outright relaxing. Even the “sniper stare” technique is not about central fixation (yes, another confusing Endmyopia terminology :slight_smile: )
Maybe this is why some people can clear ~1.5 diopter with active focus, while many people report only around 0.25? Because the latter try to force active focus with central focus?
In close-up settings it’s hard to do not central focus, and most people find active focus in that setting, so maybe that’s why they equates them. And then later in distant settings they never experiment with other ways or stumble upon that active focus can be done differently? That would explain why people sometimes strains their eyes with active focus, or feels that active focus is more like an exercises than a natural process.
Or maybe the opposite happens for some people: they do this “soft gazing” active focus naturally and that’s why they feel that they cannot find and cannot do active focus (or only by straining and/or for a short time). They do it so naturally that it seems like they do nothing new. I think for those people who says that they can’t find AF and/or don’t really do AF, but actually improve their eyesight it must be true. So for example you @Ursa :slight_smile:
But these are just musings. The main message is that active focus does not need central focus at all.

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Yeah, well said. My thoughts line with yours exactly. My gut instinct was to reply to Ursa with disagreement because I understood active focus differently. But it wouldn’t make sense for to disagree with her just because my experiences were different. It’s more likely, as you explained, that some people benefit from central focusing more and others benefit from soft gazing more. And my intuition tells me with the screen epidemic, most people, especially the young folks benefit from soft gazing more.

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There is no need to agree or disagree with me. :smile: My comment about being against AF was tongue in cheek, based exactly on what many people mistake active focus to be. You may have noticed that I prefer to call it focussed attention, as the attention part is more critical for me than the focussing part. But as AF is so often misunderstood, and misapplied, I think the points David, Bianca, yourself and others have made are worth keeping in mind and bringing to the forefront from time to time.

However, it is also worth keeping in mind what Andrew Huberman explains about the effect of adrenalin on vision, leading to very central focussing when we pick up an item of concern, or interest, in our more relaxed landscape vision. I think this is what Jake is getting at when he notices that people with sports that raise adrenalin/require sharp vision seem to reverse their myopia fairly rapidly.

I should stop being tongue in cheek - it doesn’t work that well on paper. :smile: My own attempts to find active focus with any of the techniques people have tried and recommended, led to nothing much. My own experiences of greater clarity come in drifts, not at my beck and call, and often my first relaxed look at the Snellen gives me the best reading. Any conscious attempts to make it clearer usually fail. Looking away for a while, either at a greater or at a considerably nearer distance, will often bring back that initial clarity.

That is all very well, but when measuring either uncorrected or with correction, one is focussing on something pretty central. It wouldn’t work that well if one drifted off into diffuse gaze.


I think you still misunderstand me. When I talk about active focus without central focus I talk about a clear view, not diffuse gaze. When I’m now writing this comment, I noticed I’m hunching a bit forward and the text is a bit blurry. I reminded myself to push back the eyes and the text got clearer even though I moved the head back a bit instinctively. Same can be applied for Snellen. As I mentioned this experience resulted for me the most powerful AF, so the most clear view, even though I am not fixating on one point, I am able to discern more details.
So you can totally use this kind of active focus and check for small details like letters.

This is exactly what I meant. When you look at the chart, you use this soft / full view active focus automatically. That provides the best AF. Then you switch to central focus and cannot get any better.

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And I think you misunderstand me. When I look at my Snellen outside, it is only one thing in a fairly large visual field. I do have to ‘home in’ on the chart in some way. We are probably using the term central focus in different ways.

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If you “home in” you use central focus yes. The active focus I talk about does not require “home in”, but clears up the blur.

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Full circle. What the heck is active focus? It is beginning to sound like voodoo to me. :wink: Please save yourself the effort of trying to explain it to me once again. I have given up trying to understand it or describe it. I prefer to stick with the hormesis story - give the body pulsed and preferably irregular doses of challenge to the homeostasis and it will respond.

yes the neuroscientist Andrew Huberman also highlights panoramic vision and the importance of toggling between relaxed, “horizon” vision and focused vision


For me it feels like you want active focus to be a voodoo or mystical thing. And hence you don’t accept any clear and simple definition :slight_smile:

I have heard quite a few so-called clear and simple definitions - the trouble is that they hardly ever agree with each other. I have my own clear and simple definition - it is the visual cortex responding to a challenge to the homeostasis - but how it does so is pretty mysterious to me as I am not a neurobiologist specialised in vision.

Can we leave it there now? I promise never to post anything about active focus from now on. :zipper_mouth_face:

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There is no disagreement here.
You explained that you made a joke alluding to what people often mistake Active Focus to be, and it is clear in this joke because you say “it is almost…against”. Because of this common mistake, you prefer to call it focused attention, with an emphasis on attention rather than the focusing part.

Whether you call it active focus or call it focused attention, the key part is noticing how vision looks to you. Everyone (other than newbies) agrees on this.

Obviously as you say, we cannot escape the fact that majority of our clarity and focus because we cannot escape the physics and biology of our eyes. Where there was potential disagreement is that you said

What you say here, could be interpreted that you believe focused attention without central focus is not focused attention. In other words, it can be interpreted that you believe focused attention without central focus is a diffused gaze. Halmadavid’s saying though that a diffused gaze is not the same as a relaxed gaze. And that focused attention without central focus is the same as a relaxed gaze. Relaxed gaze is a diffused gaze + focused attention. Saying that a Relaxed gaze is without central focus is not saying there isn’t a central component to it, it’s saying we are maximizing and maintaining a holistic/panoramic perspective. You can still have focused attention, and the direction of that focused attention can be something in the center of your vision or something in the peripheral.

It is clear to me you already understand this when you talked about central focusing in our relaxed landscape vision.

What David says here can be interpreted that he believes landscape/soft/panoramic vision provides the best AF. It can also be interpreted that he believes focusing on the center does not have the potential to lead to better results. But what he calls central focus he means the focal/hard/zoomed-in visual mode. When he’s saying active focus does not require homing in. He’s talking about using landscape vision where you home in on the center while also not switching from landscape mode to focal/zoomed in mode. Now although David says that switching to focal/zoomed-in mode cannot get better results, we can imply that he does not actually believe that.

We’re all veteran here enough to recognize the truth in Ursa’s example that in a large visual field, zooming in a bit will provide better active focus. And it is clear to me that David recognizes that moving towards focal/zoomed-in mode would be beneficial for some people, and that maximizing landscape mode doesn’t help everyone. This is clear when he explains and uses Ursa as an example of someone who has made gains from emphasizing a more focal/zoomed-in mode of viewing things.

Anyways, you two, there is no disagreement here. Other than verbiage and syntax.

IMO, the clearest and simplest definition is describing Active Focus as noticing how your vision looks to you and looking at things through various perspective. That’s the explanation I’ve been running with in the discord, and instead of telling people to get distance vision and avoiding close-up vision, I’m telling them to get dynamic vision, such as through playing football/soccer, which will naturally force them to use their vision in a plethora of ways. Or if they’re on the lazier side do something like babysit kids cause you got to have your attention all over the place when you’re with them. Get creative.


That’s often the problem, isn’t it. I am sure David and I are experiencing the same phenomenon. :smile:

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First of all, I agree with what you’ve written and you interpreted my comments correctly. I would refer mostly to just one small part (in a not small comment :slight_smile: )

My personal experiences are the following:

  1. This relaxed gaze, or relaxed focus, which also provides good peripheral vision, makes my eyes feel more relaxed, also provides better AF. Better in the sense that it last longer, easier to activate and clears more blur compared to baseline (ie.: vision without any kind of AF)
  2. Forced focus or “tunnel vision focus” feels straining for my eyes, also many times strains other muscles (mostly face, neck and shoulder) too. While it may provide a short time of clear vision, if starting from baseline it usually does not reach the power of the relaxed focus, or even if it reaches it takes much more time to activate, and last for less time (most of the time only a few seconds). It also true that if I do this for too much, my eyes get tired and sometimes even the baseline vision deteriorate (which happened when I did the “best environment to measure” experiment: [link]).
  3. By default, especially in close-up vision I’m in this “tunnel vision focus”. Which sometimes mind-blowing, especially when on mobile phone. Practically I consciously see nothing else, just the screen. Obviously my peripheral still works, because if something unexpected happens then I notice it, but I can totally be on the phone on the passenger seat for a long time (eg.: 10-15 minutes) and when I stop doing it I notice that I have absolutely no memory of what happened outside of the screen during that time, even tough if I consciously check my full vision I can easily see outside of the car even when I’m looking at the phone.

By anecdotal evidences we also know that:

  1. Emmetropes can do AF in the sense that they look at something (eg.: text), cannot discern some detail (cannot read the text), then stare it for a bit, and then they can discern the detail (can read the text).
  2. There are some people who seemingly spend a lot of time in close-up (reading, phone, computer, etc.), but does not get myopic
  3. Something weird happens in low myopic range (less than -1.50 full correction), because even those starts to struggle who had an easy ride down to that.

Also as an additional notice, I won’t even try to theorize anything about how this whole things works on biological / mechanical level :slight_smile:

Based on the six point up above I think what we call “Active focus” actually two different process (I suspect it also has different mechanism on biological level too, but see above).

  1. The “forced focus”. This is how most people find active focus, especially those who can find it easily. It means you try to fixate your vision on some small detail and try to clear it up. It’s side-effect is tunnel vision (on conscious level). It cannot sustained for a long time and is straining (most likely for both the eye and the visual cortex). It can clear around 0.25 diopter. But note here that if we start from an Emmetrope eye this 0.25 diopter means pretty big blur distance change hence pretty big detail increase. If I want to name it, I would call this process as “sharpening”, because that’s what it does: sharpen the normal view a bit more. If I would want to give an analogy to movements, I would call it “sprinting”. I think Emmetrope people don’t use this all the time, only in bad conditions or when they really have to use it to sharpen their vision. Also note that I think it can activate even without the actual need of focusing if the body thinks it will need it soon, so in flight-or-fight stress mode.
  2. The “relaxed focus”. I suspect that people who can go down to Emmetropia with Endmyopia finds it somehow. Though they may not conscious about it. I also suspect this is the process which is totally inhibited by full correction glasses, and ultimately results in that people fall out of the habit of doing it. This process can clear up a large amount of blur, 1-1.5 diopter. It is also a neutral process for the eye and the visual cortex. I could even say that this is the normal behavior. I think the “relaxed focus” is a good name for it, but other people describe it as “passive focus”. If I would want to give an analogy to movements, I would call it “walking” or “hiking”. As the name implies a relaxed state promotes this mode. Also (obviously) I think the method described in the opening videos triggers this kind of AF.

I think both counts as active focus, and both leads to improvement in the Endmyopia process. But there is a big difference: I think you cannot go farther than -1.50 - -1.00 diopter without the second. I think because actually the Emmetrope eye is around that level. And you can actually see 20/20 only because you activate this mechanism (see I think that here). The current Endmyopia method does not really force you to find the second type of active focus until you reach low myopia stage (though promotes it with some activities, see later), so most people will hit a wall there, because what they’ve did before won’t work anymore (we can easily judge if I’m right on this if we will have axial length measurements for people progressing through low myopic ranges).

I also think that “peripheral awareness” and “tunnel vision” is linked to these two type of AF in both way. While obviously the “forced focus” promotes tunnel vision, and “relaxed focus” promotes peripheral awareness it’s true the other way around: every condition and environment which promotes peripheral awareness promotes “relaxed focus”. And every condition and environment which promotes tunnel vision promotes “forced focus”. Which could explain a lot of “mystical” or “unexplainable” part of Endmyopia. Obviously any kind of close-up promotes tunnel vision, because you need only a small part of your field of vision. The other way around most distance vision activity promotes peripheral awareness, because even if you don’t need to track object in your peripheral the body automatically has heightened senses to peripheral to track dangers. If you have no lights, just watching a screen in dark then it obviously promotes tunnel vision, because even if you would want to, you don’t see anything else than just a screen. And so on.

This two kind of active focus are not exclusives, they can work at the same time. The problem comes for myopic people. Because the myopic visual system is injured in some sense (I’m still talking in analogies, not actual injuries). It’s like when a person with an injured leg tries to move from one place to another. A healthy person can decide if they want to sprint up to a hill or hike up a hill. They will be a bit tired after the first, but at worst just rest a bit and are fine. If you try to sprint up a hill with injured legs… in best case you strain your other leg or some muscle which you instinctively overuse to help the injured leg. In worst case you injure your leg even more. Obviously after that you won’t be able to walk normally until a long-long rest.

I think the same thing happens when myopic people try to do this “forced focus”, or when they do it for a long time. With the strain they don’t just make forced focus impossible, they also make relaxed focus impossible.

So to get back the initial quote:

Now although David says that switching to focal/zoomed-in mode cannot get better results, we can imply that he does not actually believe that.

In some sense I do believe that. I said that using the “central focus” or “forced focus” or “tunnel-vision focus” usually leads to less powerful AF, because myopic visual system is “injured” and when you try to force this sharpening it will not just won’t be able to do it correctly, it will also inhibited other type of AF, and the ultimate result will be worse than simply doing the “relaxed focus”. Obviously Emmetrope people can do both at once in which case obviously it will gives superior vision. And to some extent myopic people can do both at once, but it varies a lot on what extent and if they can do that at all.

So in summary:

  • There are two types of active focus: “forced focus” and “relaxed focus”
  • Both are heavily (but not rigidly) linked to two type of vision mode: “tunnel-vision” and “full field of view” mode
  • For emmetropes the “full field of view” is used for most of the time, even for close-up. This won’t strain the eye (won’t cause “ciliary spasm” in Endmyopia terminology), so don’t lead to myopic state.
  • For myopes the “tunnel-vision” mode is the default even for distance activities. Endmyopia methods ultimately (although not directly) promotes the “relaxed focus” mode, which gives the correct stimulus for the visual system to improve. I suspect that improvements still possible with “forced focus” AF, because the stimulus really needed is just “blurry -> less blurry” with “showing” the correct direction of the change for “less blurry”. But because this “forced focus” is straining you cannot do this as much as the “relaxed focus” hence slower improvements or even deterioration if you overdo it. Also without being able to do “full field of view” mode habitually close-up always will be straining and works against the process.

Edit: this comment got absurdly long, and I’ve rewritten it multiple times. As I’ve re-read it for the last time it seemed to be fine, but let me know if I’ve left any inconsistencies in it and I will try to clear it up.


Thanks. :no_mouth:
Sorry David, but I just couldn’t resist this. I hope you don’t conflate disagreement with dislike. :grin:

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It’s an excellent write-up. Calling them emmetropes feels a bit weird to me on first glance, and I’m too lazy to give it a second thought. But I understand the overall structure and the analogy you are making between the different ways a myope vs emmetrope interact with vision exploration. I agree with it.

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