Reducing *Towards* 20/20

Blake asked a couple of years ago about the level of acuity at which one reduces to the next normalized. I want to ask the question more specifically, and with some reasoning that I’d like to try out on the assembled wisdom.

It’s an abstract question. It’s emphatically not a specific-diopters question, though I’ll have to use some theoretical numbers to make my question coherent. (And, in case it’s a silly or disruptive question, I’m asking it in this forum rather than in the hurly-burly of Facebook. I know that you folks can take it.)

We all want to return to 20/20, and thus I take it that generally we wait till our most recent normalized can do 20/20 on the Snellen chart before we reduce again. But what if something a little less than 20/20 (again theoretically) gives us all the acuity we need in the real world and would suffice for us if we could see that well without glasses?

Bear with me: if a person is wearing, say, -1.50 diopters and sees as well as he or she can imagine seeing—automotive license plates, all traffic and commercial signs are clear as can be, but 20/20 Snellen is sometimes there and sometimes not, or even mostly not. Then if that person decides to go down to -1.25 and then achieves the same level of acuity, and so on to -1.00 and then, by the same standard, eventually to -.75. The person could get to a point where glasses were not needed for most ordinary daily life, but he or she nevertheless zealously continues to pursue Active Focus, either with the latest normalized or, if there is minimal blur without glasses, without any lenses, with a view to continuing to 20/20. While 20/20 is his or her ultimate goal, is not the first and most important goal for many of us to get rid of glasses as soon as possible without, however, compromising progress to the 20/20 Nirvana? I know that my own first priority would be to have just a little blur without glasses, from which I’d still strive to visual perfection, so why not pursue that same standard at every level? Is there not a chance of delaying progress to the most desired goal by letting the best be the enemy of the good?

I ask in order to be enlightened.

If you have any idea of what that actually is, go ahead and strive for it.

You can do this with or without the last sets of correction, say at 0.50 and 0.25. My lowest lens for my right eye is 0.75, and I obviously have sharper vision with that than uncorrected. But as it is in a frame (not contact lens) I pay a price for this sharper vision - the inevitable distortion of a lens not directly on the eye, a frame cutting into the visual field, and a change in colour. I prefer to go uncorrected, and still hope for some improvement with the things I have been doing to date (not all that much, to be honest).

Thanks for that helpful reply. I’m also asking if that kind of thinking applies to the progress through higher diopters than the one that you are fortunate enough to deal with.

Only my right eye has that good fortune. My left eye is still at a SE of -5. But even that has improved from a SE of -7 in spite of what I can only assume is irregular astigmatism. My right eye does most of the work, but as my left eye has not deteriorated, I am happy to let it tag along, with only a very occasional one-lensed reference to clarity.

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And the definition for that depends on the individual’s ordinary daily life. Indeed many people can function with -0.5D or -0.75D vision without correction most of the time. But I’d like the rescue people and the bus drivers and the operating surgeons to see everything clear immediately without guessing the small details.
Also there are the personal preferences or limitations: e.g. when you travel to a new place do you want to navigate by using a map on your phone or would you prefer to be able to read signs (or will you be forced to read signs as there is no navigation). Same with checking departure times and platforms at a bigger railway station. Can you always walk as close as needed to boards? or are they high up and you must read them to get the info? Or simply when ordering food in a café - can you see the options and prices on the board, or do you google their website while queuing or just order the same as the person in front of you or do you know the menu by heart as you always go to the same places? Also what if your work involves signing acceptances for buildings - is 20/30 enough to notice all the things that should be pointed out or will you miss something important in the quality check?

It’s an interesting discussion. I’m struggling a little bit right now in that my vision fluctuates a little bit from day to day. I can read 20/10 or 20/13 uncorrected on the Snellen chart, but I still have some annoying astigmatism (-0.25 worth of CYL) that comes and goes.

It’s so nice to be able to see perfectly, as opposed to almost perfectly. I just had some plano sunglasses made up that I’m waiting on, and I have some with the -0.25 CYL that I’m very happy with. I think I’ll just cycle through them depending on how my eyes are doing on a particular day.

It’s kind of like the audiophile world or consumer electronics. Your \$20 pair of headphones sounds pretty good until you sit in a quiet room and listen to the \$10000 top-of-the-line system. 720p looks pretty good until you see the giant 8k screen…

For me I stick with the \$20 headphones, but with seeing clearly it’s frustrating to know that a better image is possible, and almost within reach.

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