How to reduce CYL without headaches?

I made my first CYL reduction of 0.25 a few weeks ago (I started with R = -1.25 CYL and L = -0.75). At first I didn’t notice much difference in how things looked, but after a few weeks I’ve developed pain around the eye sockets and a headache behind my eyes and through my neck. I switched back to the full CYL correction last night, and the headache disappeared. That prescription isn’t entirely comfortable either, though (feels too strong except when looking far off). So I’m wondering, how do you reduce CYL without getting headaches? At this point, would those of you with more experience (I’ve only reduced SPH once so far) suggest:

  1. wearing the reduced CYL for a few hours each day or until I get a headache, then switching back to the full CYL?
  2. Giving up on CYL reduction for now and reducing SPH instead?

Or maybe you have other ideas…Thanks for any input!

CYL is a lot more taxing on the brain. The images are not simply blurry like the photo before the camera autofocuses, but there is a ghost / there are ghosts and/or DV, too, like in the TV set back in the old days when you kept tuning and repositioning the antenna until the ghosts united in one image. If you didn’t correct the image on the TV properly, it was very tiring for the eyes and the brain ending in splitting headach. (Don’t think anyone under 40 remembers this “once upon a time usual practice” of the father climbing up to the antenna and family shouting which position was better…)

This is NOT blur.

I’d go for option 2, and if you can afford - after a few SPH reductions to get into the practice - you could have a pair of additional glasses without the cyl, too, to experiment, i.e. to wear them for a few hours every now and then. Definitely don’t wait until headache kicks in.

Headaches might be the sign of your brain wanting to merge the ghosts so much that you actually (consciously or unconsciously) activate some muscles. Muscles or brain get tired and cause headache.
If you bag a few SPH only crops first, you might as well relax things a lot in your eyes and around your eyes and that can make the CYL drops easier later. Alternatively if CYL drop stays challenging you can add back a bit of SPH to make it less of a change.

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If this is your first normalized keep the CYL the same. Until you’ve done a few reductions in SPH then you work on reducing CYL. 0.5 CYL is equivalent to a 0.25 SPH but it can vary per person depending on how much challenge they want.

When I reduced my 0.5 CYL I added back in 0.5 SPH for clarity because my eye was lagging a bit. But I never got any headaches nor double vision or ghosting which makes me think I never really needed CYL correction but the optomerist just stuck it in my Rx.

There are a lot of posts in the forum for CYL reduction and reducing CYL is not the same experience as reducing SPH. For me I notice it takes longer for my eyes to focus and adjust to the new glasses when I reduce CYL compared to SPH, a week’s time versus a few hours or less.


Thanks so much for the reply! Yes, I can certainly see that CYL is a lot harder on the brain! I will go ahead and order an SPH reduction instead, and try reducing CYL later. Sometimes I do try too hard to active focus, so that could be part of the problem.

In general, should reductions (either SPH or CYL) in this process cause discomfort/headaches? Or should it simply be a bit blurry and proceed to clear over time, without pain and headaches?

I’m also getting some headaches with my 2nd diffs, which are reduced 0.50 in CYL. Would it hurt anything to go back to full CYL in the diffs? Though the first pair with full CYL also gave me some headaches at first (though I think it’s better than the CYL reduced ones). I am wondering if that’s because I reduced the pupillary distance by 3mm, thinking from what I read that closeup glasses should be done that way. But then I realized that’s probably only for really closeup, not computer closeup (and for reading books, I don’t need glasses at all). Would going with distance PD instead of closeup perhaps help eliminate the headaches?

Thanks for your reply! This is my second pair of norms (the first I reduced 0.50 SPH). I thought I should try reducing CYL on the 2nd since I read that it’s best to eliminate CYL before reaching -1.50 SPH (and one eye is at -1.75 already). But it seems from this experience that it would be best to continue reducing SPH first.

It’s good to hear that you didn’t have any headaches when reducing CYL. Reading the forum, I was a little intimidated to try reducing it since it seems to be tricky, and now with the awful headaches I got from trying it, I was beginning to wonder if reducing CYL will even be possible for me! :flushed: But stories of success are encouraging!

This can easily cause headaches. Even just 1mm off can feel totally off in vision and in your head when trying to process the images. (If there’s cylinder in the prescription, it is even more noticeable since cyl comes at an angle that should cross in front of the pupil and not 2-3mm off.)
Since your opto or you measure the PD at not more than a monitor’s distance / arm’s length that PD should not be reduced! And if you can keep the book as far as it is still comfortable then there’s no need to reduce for that either.
(Near and far PD are typically prescribed to high myopes to acknowledge that the eyes visibly converge close up. -1.75D is not high. -5D isn’t either.)

EM is not based on “no pain no gain” or “pushing through the pain”. It should be more the feeling of “I can do it, it just needs some attention at the beginning as I’m not used to doing it this way yet.”
No, you should not have headaches. The process is as gentle as restoring the normal movements in e.g. foot-knee-hip via tiny exercises repeated.

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I wish that applied to my case. Perhaps not “pain” but without some discomfort the progress is absolute zero for me.

Some discomfort is OK, especially if decreasing over time. After all you are practicing a new habit. But getting to the level of splitting headache without improvement over time is not.

This is definitely helpful. Maybe I will try keeping the diffs 0.50 lower on the CYL correction, but doing the PD correctly. Hopefully that will resolve the headaches. I’m glad to know this isn’t supposed to hurt! :laughing: Yet another area in my life where I can learn not to overdo things!

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I have no advice, but I hope you stop getting headaches. I had them a few weeks ago when I began to make some changes. They stopped when I backed off. Hope you figure out something that works for you!

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Generally speaking:

Reduce cylinder first in differentials. You need less of it during close-up. Use those glasses to check for directional blur at further distances, keep a log. If directional blur diminishes, good sign to reduce cylinder on normalized.

As usual, giving your eyeballs and brain plenty of time to sort this out with the differential first is ideal.

This is also very much an experiment. Some people can drop lots of cylinder and be fine while others can be quite sensitive to even a small reduction, so others experience isn’t necessarily a great gauge of what to expect. Depending on cyl / sph ratio it often makes sense to make 1-2 spherical reductions before venturing into cylinder.


Thanks so much for the reply! :grinning: I’ll pay more attention to what I can see with the diffs–I can really just barely see to the screen before the letters start to split with a 0.50 CYL reduction (though I can see 140 cm with diffs of the same SPH but full CYL), so I guess I wasn’t ready for norms with any CYL reduction!

Thanks! :heart: It’s definitely a painful experience–glad you figured out something to stop your headaches! Mine is getting better with going back to full CYL correction, but it’s taking several days to feel fully better! Wandering around without glasses and just letting my eyes drift instead of trying so hard to focus is helping. I guess I know now not to push it so hard and stop when I feel a headache starting!