I feel my story is pretty similar to many. When I was a young kid, I had excellent distance vision. I grew up with two nearsighted parents…my dad was close to -8 and wore glasses all the time, and my mom was under -2, and wore them when they were needed. (Her Ophthalmologist when she was a kid told her to only use glasses when needed.) None of my 4 grandparents were nearsighted to my knowledge. At least two were actually hyperopic.
Around second grade, I wanted glasses for some reason. I also had a head injury while playing outside. Soon after, I failed the school distance vision screening. We went to the Ophthalmologist, and I got glasses…roughly -1.5. I didn’t really ever use them.
Two years later, I started having serious trouble seeing the board in school, and had to use them. We went back to the eye doctor, and apparently my prescription had doubled to about -3. My parents were skeptical, and took to an optometrist for a second opinion. I remember his words. “Your son’s vision measured the same here as at his doctor’s office. Actually, I measured 1/10th of a diopter higher than they did. He’s 20/200, which is considered legally blind.” He was a nice guy, but there was not as much forward-thinking then, no checking for ciliary spasm, and he was in his 50s. I noticed he only wore his own glasses part-time. He said to me, as if reading my mind, “I myself am very nearsighted. I wear contact lenses. These glasses you see me popping on and off are reading glasses that I wear over them for near work”. I found that pretty interesting, and it stuck in the back of my mind.
A friend in school who was also nearsighted convinced me to wear the glasses most of the time by about 5th grade. I couldn’t even read music on a stand about 3 or 4 feet away anymore; the notes would switch places and jump from one line to another. Clearly, I had a lot of ciliary spasm, but didn’t know what it was called back then. I just felt something was clearly wrong. And the glasses were big frames, aviator style, and distorted everything. I was wearing -3.25 in both eyes. I looked through them for close-up, too.
About two years later, I started having more trouble. I told the people who tested my vision in the office that I had to push my glasses closer to my eyes to see better. They that was a “sure sign” that I needed a stronger rx. Sure enough, I came out with a stronger, and newly unbalanced rx…this was the real damage in action, now, I can see in hindsight. -4 and -4.5 to start middle school with. I tried to look underneath them for close work rather than through them, because I had a feeling they weren’t good for that, but sometimes I had to look through them to even see my writing clearly.
The following year, I believe, that was increased to -4.25 and -4.75. The glasses were getting a bit thick, and things were getting really tiny through them, and I could not judge distances anymore.
I wanted contact lenses. I got them. For some reason, the person picking out the prescription did it backwards, and instead of reducing it slightly to compensate for the closeness of the lens to the eye, they increased it. -4.5 in both eyes…which is equal to -5 in glasses. The contacts were so strong, I had to cross my eyes to focus on my desk work.
After wearing those, my next exam indicated I needed -5 in both eyes, during high school. I told my parents I had had it, and that I would stick with my old glasses, and we weren’t going to fill that prescription. No way was I going to need -5. Surely if I went down that road, my life as I knew it would be over, I thought! I felt that the change had happened so recently that is wasn’t permanent yet. I was right…I spent the Summer trying not to use my glasses, and an eye exam the following year, put me back to where I was before the contacts. I continued using them, but sparingly. But I was a “true” -5 for a year or two before that (according to the overprescribed eye exams, that is), even though I never filled that rx in glasses and only used the contacts sometimes.
I started University around 2005, and was getting bad headaches during close work. I had to alternate glasses and then no glasses, but had to put my head really close to my paper to work without glasses. I went back to my older pair of -4 and -4.5, and my rx subsequently dropped to -3.75 and -4.50 at the next exam. I remember the Ophthalmologist’s words “I can cut your power slightly.” I said thank you, but pretended not to be overenthusiastic. He himself wore contacts and was nearsighted, but was wearing glasses that day due to an issue with his contacts. I also obtained what we call a differential. But they were not prescribed as accurately as they should have been, and actually increased my strain when I wasn’t well-rested…they were too weak, and I started wearing them all the time to get relief from the distance glasses. In hindsight, this wasn’t the best idea.
At the same time the above was occurring, I found the article “Seeing Space” by Antonia Orfield. It changed my life. Here’s a link:
This validated everything for me.
Unfortunately, I continued on the too-weak glasses path, and tried a whole bunch of Bates stuff soon after. I think Bates was awesome and very smart, but like Orfield said, “You can’t just take off a strong lens and expect to see!” It just didn’t cut it. That said, I found the concept of central fixation very interesting. I practiced it and probably overdid it. But it helped me find active focus. And I became (and still am) a firm believer in palming, and do it from time-to-time when I’ve been exposed to too much screen-time. I think the darkness gives a “black reference”, and helps reset the photoreceptors in the retina to make them more sensitive. It would be interesting to research whether it helps with the peripheral receptors that are implicated in myopic progression!
But, I wasted a lot of time with the Bates stuff, and tended to plateau because there just wasn’t enough stimulus at distance without proper (normalized) glasses. I should have stuck with Dr. Orfield’s method (which is the same method Jake promotes, and the only method that forward-thinking Optometrists use. Many people have found this method accidentally.)
Today, self measuring, I’m around -3.50 subjectively. Still slightly worse in one eye on average than the other. I’ve measured using every tool I could get my hands on…test lens kits, phoropters, etc. Close-up is my nemesis. So are computer screens, and phones and tablets. I don’t wear glasses full-time currently. I’ve tried and failed once to slowly increase again to be able to tolerate a real normalized. Failed due to close-up causing problems, like ciliary spasm. I get it so quickly. I tolerate a lot less minus and a lot more plus than most people with my refractive state. I even use very weak plus for close-up lately (we’re talking +0.25, +0.5), even though it’s contraindicated by Jake, and I want to get back to a true (but weak) differential eventually. If I put on a +3.25 when I have ciliary spasm, and look into the distance for a while, and then take them off, I have fairly sharp vision for a few moments. I would estimate that my true current refractive state is at or slightly below -3 (if I were to have a cycloplegic refraction). A couple of years ago, I also got my hands on some -3 contact lenses, and put them in to see how things looked. It was just a tiny bit blurry in the far distance. My vision was about a half diopter worse then than now.
At that same time, I had worked in a fairly dim environment for about a year, and despite going outside for lunch almost every day, my vision deteriorated slightly by early 2017. It took a few months after to get back to where I was. I had found Endmyopia the year before, I believe, and it helped get me back on track. It re-introduced me to the gradual lens method, and introduced me to measuring my far point regularly. Big thank you to @jakey.
So, that’s where I’m at. I currently wear -2.25, -2 and use it part-time. It’s not strong enough for a true normalized as my “diopter bubble” as Jake calls it is reduced. I’m trying to slowly work my way back to -3 (which I did last year, but then ruined it due to ciliary spasm from too much screen time…I’m very sensitive to close-up). I also eventually want to use -0.5, -0.25 for differential, and possibly increase a tiny bit more after that as well, if I can tolerate it. We’ll see. My last differential was -1.75, -1.5 last year when I was wearing the -3, -2.75 normalized, and it promoted ciliary spasm. There’s a fine line to try to balance.
To recap, I wore an rx of -2, 1.25 for a good number of years (when my true need was for something around -4). I eventually switched to -2, -1.75 to try to equalize. I did this around 2007-2012, and it took that many years to equalize to that level, probably because I did it one whole jump. And then about a year and half ago, I switched to the -2.25, -2 that I currently am using (but did work back up to a true normalized for a while, as mentioned). The thing that I have to mention is that during my time wearing the -2, during the first year or two of it, my visual cortex seemed to reorganize and I regained a lot of my depth perception. Before that, the world appeared almost totally flat due to years wearing strong glasses. So, even though I didn’t adapt to a drastically weaker lens in terms of clarity all at once, I did in terms of spatial perception over a period of time. it was amazing to see things literally warp and start to pop out in 3D before my eyes every so often during that time!
And that’s where I’m at. Just joined this group, and am excited about it. Looking to jump on the 0.75 diopter per year bandwagon, but I have get my close-up habits sorted out…and slowly adjust to the proper glasses all over again!