How to maximise effectiveness of outdoor Active focus time?

Hey guys. So whenever I go outside I look for objects to AF on, preferably text. This could be anything from licence plates, to store signs and billboards. The issue with this, however, is that I don’t know if I’m getting the most out of the AF or even doing it effectively. For example, I see a car with a licence plate and try to make the text on it clearer as I’m walking past but because I’m constantly getting closer to it, the challenge is getting easier and sometimes I cannot clear up the text in time as I walk past the car. Sometimes when I walk by text, I can get it to partially clear up but to properly do AF I would have to ideally sit down and stare it at for a prolonged period of time to get the most out of it, something which I can’t do when I’m walking and constantly on the move.

Is it possible to see improvement by doing what I have described above and can AF be done on things that aren’t text to improve eyesight as well?


The positive stimulus provided the AF mechanism itself. It does not matter if it’s text or not (I really like to use trees, the leaves and branches provides a lot of high contrast edges), and also does not matter if the object gets totally clear not. It’s the blur -> af -> less blur process which provides the stimulus and so the improvement.

Which also means that just blur -> trying af but nothing happens -> still blur process does not help much. So if you are new, and it takes too much time to trigger AF, maybe it’s a good idea to practice at first on stationary objects. But later if AF gets more fast, it’s easy to do on moving targets.

Also don’t forget that with ciliary spasm it’s hard to AF. For example for me usually after I leave work (8+ hours of close-up) it takes 10-15 minutes to be able to easily AF.


Thanks for the advice.

Is there a way to test for ciliary spasm? If I use my laptop screen from 70cm away for a few hours at a time (with 70cm distance I have sufficient blur challenge and can use AF without glasses to make the text clearer), will I get ciliary spasm?

Are there any other objects that are good for practicing AF?

Also during night time there is a brightly lit lamp post that illuminates the leaves of a tree just outside my house. This means everything is pitch black outside other than the light emanating from the lamp post. If I focus on the area where the leaves are lit, would it be a good object to do active focus on?

For me, I think I’ve developed a good test. For one: AF does not work at all, or like David says, only after like 15 minutes of trying if you have ciliary spasm. You can even try this on some text in a book just outside natural diopter bubble. If it never becomes clear, for me that means I have some ciliary spasm to undo. Second: cm measurements. I can measure a slight but consistent difference in my cm meaurements to edge of blur between when I have ciliary spasm and when I don’t (e.g. after AF succeeds I have a bit better cm measurement without AF as well)

In another thread, someone mentioned the moon. I’m going to try that one

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I don’t know about test. But I think in the future it will be mostly obvious based on experience: you will now how fast / how much blur you usually able to AF. If you cannot do it as fast or as much then something is not right :slight_smile: Maybe you are just tired, but if you are after a longer close-up session, there is a high chance it’s ciliary spasm.

Generally high contrast things are easy to AF at. The high contrast can be between foreground - background (branches of tree - bright sky) or color / textures of the object (black fonts on white paper), etc.
But honestly I found that it’s the easiest to AF things you are interested in. If you love watching birds then you are able to AF them easily. If you don’t care about nature, you won’t be able to AF on trees easily. And so on.

Yes, no, maybe :slight_smile: Theoretically if you are doing close-up around your blur horizon, you won’t get ciliary spasm. But the problem is the practice because many times even though you are at the blur horizon when you start you will lean closer automatically and now you have ciliary spasm :slight_smile: So theoretically it’s ok, but only if you maintain this for the whole session (which is suprisingly hard, especially if you are working / playing and not just reading something for fun).


Thanks. I will see if it takes me 15 minutes to do AF and if it does then that means I have ciliary spasm. Also, I find cm measurements difficult so instead I use my arm as a measurement. I fully extend my arm and hand and view screens from that distance. Is that an accurate way to get a cm measurement as well?

The lamp post is approx. 7m away. If I did this for thirty minutes straight will I see any type of improvement?

Huh? Unless your arm has cm rule markings tatooed on it, that is no way accurate :wink:
The accurate way is to use a metal extendible tape measure, put it next to your eye socket and extend to the screen at the edge of blur

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I measured the length of my arm when my hand is extended which comes to about 72cm.

yeah but how can you measure change in the distance to edge of blur ? Your arm is a fixed length - you need something that has a variable length - so I’m not really getting what you’re doing

Yes, that’s a fine AF target. But you have to understand that AF is not an eye exercise. You have to develop a habit to do it all the time. Yes, at first it’s beneficial to just sit somewhere and try to AF, but in the long run just doing it for 30m and then forget AF for the whole day won’t lead to improvement (also you will be utterly bored after a few weeks :slight_smile: )

That is correct. For the time being an arms length is what gets me to distance to blur but in the future I will try to use cm measurements. At the moment I’m using the 3m snellen chart (A4) to measure because I don’t know how to accurately do measure in cm.

Yes that’s right! AF should be a habit not just an exercise. I try to consistently do AF by making sure I’m at the edge of blur whenever I’m using my laptop and when I go outside as well (I am using under-corrected lenses anyway). I only asked about the lamp post thing because when I’m inside the house I can’t practice distance vision other than looking outside.

You can practice AF in close-up. Also after your first reduction your normalized usually lets you have some blur challenge indoor (because of the less light).
But yeah, that lamp post is totally fine :slight_smile:

this kind of statement makes me think that the EM journey to 20/20 is nigh-on (but not quite) impossible, if it really does rely on AF all the time. Well maybe I will improve but currently it also takes too long for AF to kick in to be practical moving around outside and then you’re back to sitting and doing AF excercises…

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Maybe you need to improve your close-up habits then (and/or change your setup and/or your differential). Also while ciliary spasm makes AF harder, it’s still not impossible. I can do AF even when I walk a few seconds to one room to another between close-up sessions.

How long have you been at it again?

But for sure, I need to get weaker differentials, I got stronger ones due to eye strain, but it’s resolved now

I am actually using a -1.5 lens in both eyes for my normalised at the moment. It allows me to see up to the 20/30 line on a 3m A4 Snellen chart with indoor lighting exclusively. Therefore I don’t have a differential. How often do you think I should go without the normalised in order to challenge myself and for how long?

I am very new to active focus but I find it most easily on close up text (without glasses). I ‘proved’ to myself one day that I could get rid of blur. I held text at a point where I could not see it and tried these ideas… blinking, staring, relaxing (to start I was opening my eyes wide, looking left and right and trying anything that might create ‘change’)… then I saw the blur becoming sharp, felt stinging and to my amazement I could read it. I blinked and it was gone, but then I closed eyes and clarity returned on and off. It is happening more easily and without the eye movements now. I read somewhere that having so much blur to clear might be too much and create strain but so far it is reinforcing the idea that I can see better than I think I might…I’m just seeing if I can translate this to active focus in the distance. I found nothing the first few times. It is still early days but I have found it on a few occassions (a distant number plate at my fixed point from my window!) has become clear. I think they’ve all happened straight after I’ve been working on making close blurred text clear (or very soon after)… so I’m going to continue to explore this and juxtapose working on creating clarity near then far… even if it is just a mental ‘trigger’ that tells me it is possible … so maybe that ‘mixing up things’ will help active focus kick in more naturally… If I find I’m walking around and AF isn’t working I may look at some text close, clear blur and then continue to work on the distance once I’ve had the stinging and clarity appear in the close text.

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yeah of course you have to be aware when ciliary spasm returns and clear that up first. For me, usually max 10 minutes of walking outside looking at distant signs does the trick. If I’m looking at a very big sign far away while walking then I can AF on that because the text stays at a good distance for long enough for it to kick in. At the moment though I can still hardly imagine people doing it voluntarily within 2 seconds.

But yeah, as you say it’s easiest for everyone to start close up on some text. As I did too. Sometimes on some text, it kicks in immediately if I have no ciliary spasm at the time

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