Should we rethink the term active focus?

If active focus is something that you should “let happen”, perhaps active focus isn’t the best name. To me it implies that you are consciously trying to focus and could cause people to strain, squint and otherwise cause frustration. Maybe a better term would be “focus awareness” or something similar, but active focus presents too much opportunity to cause confusion IMHO.


Sure. It won’t be confusing at all to anyone to rename a term we’ve used in many hundreds of articles, videos, discussions, how-to guides, Wiki entries and anywhere else we discuss the premise of actively focusing on something. :grimacing:

You are actively focusing. Being aware that you can challenge blur, figuring out how to reset focus with a blink, and having the often temporary experience of clearer vision.

(That said, always open to constructive critique! :+1:t2:)


I’ve thought a lot about this topic in the past. While I agree with you that the “active” element in active focus can have unintended consequences, I was also not able to find a word which would be totally perfect. Because you either suggest that it should be active and then people misunderstand that they should do something like flexing muscles, or you suggest that it should not be an active thing and then people will think that they should just stare blur. Or in the case of “focus awareness” it can be misunderstand as that you should watch clear (overcorrected) vision. So… :man_shrugging: And then there is what Jake says, that at this point would be really hard to change the existing terminology, so unless we have a 10000% better word and really-really compelling reason, then it’s not really an option.


The term active focus means something to me because of many years of moving through life uncorrected, I have been passively looking at the world, not bothering to try to see anything. It’s like giving up on the idea. One time my brother talked to me about why I had to wear glasses. As a very young person he said, “I could never understand why people need glasses. I always thought that if I couldn’t see something clearly I would just look at it and try until I could see it.”

I didn’t realize he had something there. One could argue what it means to try, but it seems he learned how to view his environment naturally and avoid the need for vision correction. He doesn’t view the world passively but takes an active part in the process of seeing.


“active focus” works in the sense that you are showing an active interest in what you are viewing. Complete passivity does not work.
The problem is not with the word “active” it is just a bit ambiguous in the combination of active and focus.

“Detailed image/vision awareness” :smiley: is the closest term I can think of which might lead to the least misunderstanding but not as catchy as AF


Or maybe in similar vibes of the “passive-agressive” term we could call it “passive-active focus”? :smiley:


Even with a 10000% better word, I couldn’t conceive of trying to rewrite the whole program! For better or worse there are established terms that are just as much the foundation of the method as the concepts behind them. That said I do mix in the term “conscious focus” both in my thinking and my descriptions of AF because many people do try to manipulate their eyes (squinting and the hard blink being the worst offenders) to bring focus and this does frequently stem from misunderstanding the ‘active’ part of active focus.


This thread makes me think of the whole traditional thing about cherubim and seraphim. One of them (I forget which), is covered with eyes and the other has lots of wings. One is passive and the other is active. It’s the active one (the one that flaps its wings and doesn’t just stare) that best contemplates God.


In my case, I have to actively “engage” it. After nearly 2 years I have habits that work well to engage it pseudo-automatically, but I’m always aware of it. To me, it is an active act, especially if I’m pushing focus out to the limits of my eyes that day. Thus “active focus” seems right.

The ciliary muscles for me are automatic. I also recently learned that I can “active focus” in the opposite direction a full diopter (I had my ciliaries and iris paralyzed for an eye exam, and was still able to focus a diopter closer with effort). That form also requires “engagement”.

I know that my ciliaries are automatic because for 15 years I was using PC glasses that were about a diopter too strong to put the focal plane right at the screen. Since the screen was sharp, I now know that I was still using my ciliaries automatically. At the time I didn’t even realize it, I assumed the ciliaries were not even being used.

So to sum up, I seem to have three accommodation methods:

  • Normal ciliary accommodation (automatic)
  • Pushing focus away (we call this active focus)
  • Pulling focus towards me (no name yet! :slight_smile: )

i used to always think about this as ‘passive focus’. because it just happens randomly and everything is crystal clear then.
but since i started equalizing, my non dominant eye won’t active focus by the ‘passive focus’ method. So i have to actively think about ‘using’ that eye, constantly telling myself that I am looking with that eye, otherwise it will stay blurry. And also i have to remind myself to pay attention to the peripherial vision of that eye. So when i ‘actively’ engage my mind, the ‘active focus’ happens more often - I think that’s why its called active focus. The ‘active’ part doesn’t refer to anything to do with your eye itself but rather your attention. :thinking:


It would either have to be Latin or some word play involving something entirely superfluous and Latin, and maybe some … Greek?

People love complicated and ‘insider’ knowledge and being special.


energetic estiasis

Or maybe we should prepare for when they try to censor us off the internet completely and use Pig Latin to disguise our communication?

Activesay Ocusfay


Funny thing, I was just thinking of this the other day. You can walk around just looking at things or you can remember to practice actively focussing. That was when I thought, Jake really nailed it with the term ‘active focus’. Cheers.


The following premise is not correct:

There is activity in active focus, it is mental. And this activity is not teeth-grinding, fist-clenched mental will power – but is the choosing of wanting to see clearly (and this can be enjoyable).

When one wears the Optometrist’s over-prescribed glasses then one has always-on,-passive-focus.

See also: On working toward Active Focus: in Infancy and in Adulthood


wow i love how you worded this!

I think “attentive focus” might be a good way to think of “active focus”.


It’s “attentive focus” for me.

I agree completely. Same thing happened to me - no correction, but living in blur for years and never trying to see the world around me. Now I “scan” for colours around me, on my walks - it could be a “blue” day, or a “red” day - and eventually, after half an hour or so, “active focus” starts happening, my peripheral vision widens somehow and my eyes start tearing a bit. But it is “active” in the sense that I have to consciously engage in the process of seeing. I’m hoping one day, it’ll happen naturally without me having to bring it on, but I’m not there yet.


Interesting you mentioned this.
In reverse of what you describe, when I abuse my eyes with less sleep and more stress and screen time over several days, the first thing I notice is some loss from the peripheral vision. Most noticeable while jaywalking, if I have to check twice before quickly crossing a road, I know my eyes are not in top form.


I do this even when crossing a one way street… My motivation isn’t that I don’t trust my peripheral vision :sweat_smile:

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