Necessity of Active Focus, from a Different Perspective

What we understand about human perception:

The worlds shifts itself around your aim, because you are a creature that has an aim. You have to have an aim in order to do something. You are an aiming creature. You look at a point and you move towards it. It is built right into you… and so you have an aim. Well let’s say your aim is the highest possible aim. Well then that sets up the world around you. It organizes all of your perceptions. It organizes what you see and you don’t see. (Starting at 5:50)

(emphasis mine)

The world is so impossibly complicated. There’s an infinite number of ways to look at the world. How do we decide what to look at and how to look at it? The question of “How do I adjust the eyes to see the best possible way?” is not a simple question for your biology to answer!

Perceptually, the world manifests itself according to your aim. You see what is relevant to your aim. You don’t see what is not relevant to your aim.

So why is active focus a necessity?
You must aim at clarity for clarity to become manifest in the world.
That’s a problem, because how do you know what clarity is if you can’t see well? I think the answer is simple: don’t become so blind that you forget what clarity is. That is why we take the smallest possible reduction. If you get too far from clarity it becomes impossible to aim at clarity because you don’t know what clarity is anymore or in which direction your eyes must go to find clarity.

Jake stresses the importance of living in clarity for some time before making the next reduction. With this perspective it is easy to see the necessity of doing so. To know clarity well allows you to aim at clarity.

p.s. I’ve been improving my eyesight for just over one year now. So far so good :slight_smile: Thanks, Jake!


Congratulations, and may it continue to go well.

I love Jordan Peterson, but I have some trouble relating this directly to the importance of active focus and aiming for visual clarity.

The insistence on 20/20-like references to clarity assumes that people with myopia or other vision problems cannot have any kind of clarity, at any distance without correction. If I have clarity with my weak left eye at 18cm, that is as good a reference to clarity as I need for active focus, and I can aim for that clarity when I push the thing I am focussing on a few mm further. My right eye has improved from clarity at 35cm to clarity within the range of 19 cm and about 100 cm. I can active focus just past 100 cm, and also at a little less than 19 cm where presbyopic blur sets in (it works both ways). And this was achieved without any correction and constant reference to clarity at greater distances, but just by print pushing at screen distance.

So I am not convinced of the necessity of correcting to 20/20 in order to have a reference to clarity as such. It is a reference to clarity at that particular distance, which is a rather arbitrary decision on what visual clarity is, and would not impress someone with 20/10 vision. Clarity is too vague a concept for me. I am more interested in functional vision - clear enough to be able to do what, safely and effectively? I agree that for many myopes life can only be lived effectively and safely with an appropriate degree of correction.

I assume this refers to visual clarity. I am afraid that for some people, who might aim at it with all their might, it will never become manifest on account of the physical defects and limitations of their visual apparatus. I am a great believer in the power of the mind, but this borders on magical thinking for me. I do not expect to be able to improve my left eye to a focal distance of 100cm, let alone 600cm, but as I function pretty well without any correction on the strength of my much improved right eye, with stereoscopic input from my left eye, I am more than content.

I love different perspectives, and this was a rather intriguing one. :grinning:

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Thanks for your response, Hannie!

I am being a little vague on purpose, because this is a rather abstract and philosophical concept! It isn’t tied to distance in any way. I’m definitely not trying to imply you have to see 20/20 with your naked eyes, or even with normalized lenses, as long as you know what clarity is within the domain you are try to improve in. For example, the domain in print pushing is you and the book and about 30cm in between. You get a solid understanding of clarity (of what clear text looks like). Then you push the text beyond the blur horizon. Then you begin to active focus, making clarity your aim. As such your biology has something to strive toward. I don’t think you are far from understanding what I’m trying to say. :slight_smile:

Exactly this! Reference to clarity. The reference to clarity, as you call it, is what you are aiming at. You have something to aim at. That is my whole point. Someone who is not performing active focus is not aiming at clarity and therefore won’t ever achieve it.

We aren’t talking about those people :slight_smile: They just aren’t capable of improving. We are talking about people who have the potential to improve and how they go about it.

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I do understand what you are trying to say. My own ‘mantra’ for EM is Belief, Intention and Attention. I only started to improve when I applied this. I went uncorrected for 30 years, and there was no improvement in those years because I hadn’t thought it was possible, after two attempts with the Bates method which only gave temporary improvements.
I am a little concerned about the fear of blur tolerance, which I distinguish from clinical blur adaptation (which is of a small degree and temporary). I want to make the point that in spite of being both clinically blur adapted and blur tolerant, I was able to improve without constant reference to 20/20 clarity. Just because I am very tolerant of blur, does not mean that I cannot distinguish it from clarity, and this is where the Attention element comes in.

Active focus is so different for many people that I am also alarmed at the insistence on performing it consciously and the belief that you will not improve if you do not ‘achieve’ it. After trying blinking and staring, which did give a bit of extra clarity and probably the necessary hint, my visual system is now doing it automatically, if not continuously. I suppose this is what is meant by automatic active focus, which is in some way a contradiction in terms. This is probably a big effort for the visual machinery, hence the lack of continuity, and hopefully as axial shortening starts to happen (if it does) it will become less effortful and permanent.
For me the critical mechanism is stimulus and response, and the important thing is dosing the degree of stimulus that works for you at whatever reference to clarity you have. So I would rather say that if you are not providing a stimulus you will have no response.


I don’t think it’s completely arbitrary, because 20 feet is the distance at which one no longer needs to use any ciliary muscle in order to focus. Light rays arriving at distances greater than 20 feet are parallel, and therefore there is no need for any accommodation in the lens.


yes, I have heard this said differently in some life coach’s speech: he said that what you expect to see is your Google search engine, what you are thinking about, what you are looking for. If you put “cat videos” into your search engine you will find cat videos (mostly). Similarly, if in life you are expecting people to be negative and act badly, you will constantly discover examples of people behaving as you expect, as that is what you have searched for.
If you expect to see kindness, you will constantly discover examples of it.
of course, with our eyes, we cannot surpass our physical limitations but we can surely change the way we see and by trying to see, affect our biology


Of course you are right on that point. But I think a two-dimensional chart Is probably not the best way to test visual clarity either. I often get the impression that I can see three dimensional objects more clearly at a further distance than my 6m Snellen measurements would predict. I think there is no 100% accurate way to test vision.

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Of course the big downside of this is confirmation bias. Most people don’t even need Google to create a bubble for them. :crazy_face:

Thanks for this reminder, also the great topic @deadpan :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: :star_struck:

Well, I didn’t watch the video yet, buuuuuuut… :joy: :wink:
(but: I’m very proud not checking in on my stupid eye killing smartphone, but on my desktop computer, yayyy!)
But, I agree with what Lajos says here. There are studies for sports and muscle training that show: It does make a difference what you think. If you do an exercise, and focus on how it makes you stronger - it will be more effective than just doing it, thinking: Sigh, I wanna get over with this.
If you eat protein and imagine how it contributes to muscle growth - it will make a difference compared to just eating the same amount of protein.
For stretching, like learning to do the splits, it is recommended to imagine warmth surrounding you and your legs - because it helps you relax.
Just think about placebos…
… or nocebos…

So, @Ursa: If you think your left eye will never reach 60cm - well, chances are, it won’t. So if I was you, I’d convince my left eye of something else!!!

Which is also why I keep wondering: If I close my eyes and imagine to be looking into the distance - does it do anything for my vision? :thinking:

Have a nice day or nice dreams, everyone! :heart_decoration:


I like that mantra!

It does seem like a bit of a contradiction in terms, unless you consider what I’m putting forward above… Everytime a person points their eyes to look, they do so with intention. They have an aim. But they don’t always do it consciously. Active focus is when instead of simply looking around with their normal intention they also look around with the intention to see clearly and with the understanding of what clarity is, so that they can aim at it. This process can fall into the unconscious as well and that is when active focus becomes automatic.

I want to elaborate on ‘understanding of what clarity is.’ That is knowing how something should look before you see it. I believe this is why text works so great for clear flashes, you already know what it should look like. I also believe this is why you must work at the edge of blur, because you can distinguish enough detail to know what you are looking at and recall how the rest looks (unconsciously). When you recall how the rest looks, that is the clear image which you make your aim. (still unconsciously)

It seems to me that blur adaptation is when somebody aims at a lower standard of clarity, or stops aiming at all. :frowning:

Anyway, I think it is a necessary psychological shift that must take place. Desire a clear image.

(All of this is barring any confounding factors, like ciliary spasm.)

True :wink:

Hannie, I appreciate your replies because they are helping me to sort out my own thinking :heart:



Speaking more concretely, yeah I get the same impression. My right eye has always lagged my left (even though it is dominant) but despite that I still always see better with both eyes than with either eye alone. I think there is some brain processing magic that can fill in the gaps with the information provided by stereoscopic vision. Kind of like 1 + 1 = 2.5.

Woah… that’s a trippy thought. I remember seeing this study where the participants didn’t curl. They did, however, watch videos of people curling and imagine doing it themselves. They gained a significant amount of strength over the control group… maybe we can do the same with our eyes! :rofl:

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I didn’t write 60cm - but 600cm. I probably have enough years of life left to get it to 60cm, perhaps even to 100cm, to match the right eye, but unlikely to a clear 20/20, if we are talking about 1D per year with a considerable slowing down for the last D. When I am 80 will I even care? My aim was to function without glasses for all my activities, and I have reached that aim.
I am talking to my left eye, asking it to improve at its own pace, and not putting any undue pressure on it to do so. In the meantime, I will not take any measures to further improve the right eye - a 4.5 diopter difference is enough. If it does decide to do so on its own, I can’t stop it. :crazy_face:

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Yes! I believe this is the reason it is pointless to massively undercorrect. In my words, the eye has to have something to “hang” or “hold” onto. If all the leaves are blurred, it’s impossible to try to distinguish them more clearly. If there’s just a bit of blur, and we can try to see better, the immediate feedback of whoah, that didn’t work, that didn’t work, there it is! is fantastic for making improvements.


What’s to stop me from moving close enough to the tree (or the shrub, or the seedlings in my garden) to get just the small amount of blur challenge that will enable me to make out individual leaves?
I can use the lines on the back of my hand as a small blur challenge for my left eye with no correction - plenty of detail there. :grin:
I know that I am just a stubborn heretic, but I would need some very good explanation for why active focus at close distances is not enough to stimulate improvement.


I was thinking about this after my podcast interview with Jake…If I got into a situation in which I just couldn’t get reduced lenses, that’s exactly what I’d do–work at intermediate distances until I worked back to 20/20. It’s the same thing, only it would be a little harderrequire more intention.

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It is sufficient to dislike wearing glasses as much as I do. :wink:


Ohh, I hadn’t heard this. Iiiiiinnnnteresting…

It works for athletes. Why not us? Whether it has a direct influence on our biology, or an indirect influence by training our minds to engage in different habits to achieve a goal, I reckon it has value. I certainly do it from time to time.


Yes. You can read about it on page 8 of this guide:


‘Having 20/20 vision does not necessarily mean you have perfect vision. 20/20 vision only indicates the sharpness or clarity of vision at a distance. Other important vision skills, including peripheral awareness or side vision, eye coordination, depth perception, focusing ability and color vision, contribute to your overall visual ability.’

From the American Optometric Association.

This makes a Snellen chart an incomplete measure of visual ability. I use it only to make sure I am within the legal requirements for vision for driving.


Nothing stops you :slight_smile: you can do that. And I bet it would be sufficient stimulus to make progress, if you are to limit the stimulus to that… but you don’t. Without any lenses, you provide many hours of the day of severe myopic defocus stimulus when you are far undercorrected. Like Kem says, you have to have something to “hang” onto and you’re just too far beyond that.

In my experience when I’m far undercorrected my eyes actually start reverting, but maybe your experience differs?

It seems to me that your eyes adapt to all the simulus they receive throughout the day :sunglasses: and not just from a 30 minute session as if it was the only thing you did that day.

I doubt that’s a good enough explanation for you :joy: I’ll keep thinking about it… haha


Another way to say it is when you wear normalized that are 0.25 diopters or less undercorrected, you spend most of your day looking at things your eye can accommodate to see and a small portion is spent looking at edge of blur. When you wear nothing, depending on your natural eyesight, you spend a small portion at the edge of blur and then a small portion where your eyes can accommodate to; but the remaining portion of the time is spent looking at things your eye has no hope of accommodating to. This isn’t the case when wearing proper normalized. I think that’s the difference.