I started the Endmyopia journey 3 years ago and somehow completely missed the boat on distance active focus. With no gains I stopped measuring and only recently rejoined in as my niece age 8 (I was 9 when I got my first pair of glasses) is now wearing glasses and it breaks my heart. My family (really, no one within my family) is receptive to the idea of ‘natural vision therapy’ and so I am doubling down to prove it’s possible and hopefully convince my family to consider another path than glasses for my niece.
Here’s what I wish I had known when I started 3 years ago. Please offer edits/suggestions/improvements!
Tips on finding active focus.
Take it slow.
First, consider the biology.
- Your eyes have a lens themselves. And by wearing a corrective lense you have removed the need of your eye to reshape the lens in your eyes using its own ciliary muscles to accomodate for focus up close or at a distance.
- See a diagram of your eye (anyone?)
Second, consider what would happen to any other muscle in your body if you treated it as you have the muscles in your eyes.
- The muscles would be supported by an external device, rendering your muscles unused.
- The brain would have no need to communicate to the muscles to do a job that has been taken over by the external device.
Third, recall physical therapy as a practice in the medical field to regain strength and slowly recuperate after a period of inability.
- Initially, your brain may not know how to even communicate to the muscle to engage the muscle.
- The physical therapist will guide you in starting with annoying simple tasks that you will initially not be able to do, then slowly gain some control over, then more mastery and strength in.
- As you learn the baby steps/exercises, the physical therapist can introduce more challenging tasks for the muscles to take on.
- You start to learn where you can push yourself farther, but may experience setbacks if you overwork yourself before you are ready.
- You learn to make adjustments to the experiences you put yourself through, and then can take on greater challenges.
Fourth, begin experimenting with your eyes to uncover active focus (using your muscles for accomodation and reshaping the lens of your eyes for the ability to see at greater distances.
- Remove ciliary spasm. How?
a. Wear differential lenses for close up distances. Remember - the high powered lense on your normalized or regular pair of glasses is to see from 3+ feet to infinity distance. You are making those ciliary muscles strain/contract extra amounts to hold into a close up focus distance.
b. Take frequent breaks. 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet or more away, for 20 seconds. This will counteract any ‘lock-in’ from happening if you keep changing the focus point (in terms of distance) to activate accomodation of the lens.
- Practice. How?
a. This doesn’t mean making your life into a series of exercises and ridiculous work. This is about experimenting with your eyes. Test them. See how they respond.
b. See for yourself the consequence of not wearing differentials for close up work. Look in the distance to where you can read text clearly (an eye chart is great for this, because you can measure how small the text you can read is). Then wear your normalized glasses and do close up work for 5 seconds. Now look at the eye chart again, can you see the same line of text, or only a larger size font? Repeat the example with 10 s, 20 s, up to 30 s of close up with the normalized. Again, this is to only prove a point. You will not be able to see as well. Do not do this!! Wear your differentials for close up work. (This is why.)
c. Start small - close up active focus. Now we talk about active focus. Start with practicing print pushing. Move the text farther away until you can clear it up.
d. Start small - distance active focus. Use high contrast signs on days with good lighting. Keep the blur minimal at first as you did with print pushing.
- Next steps
a. Incorporate habits into your lifestyle the following to allow you to do more practice; 3 hours outdoors time – the only way to improve distance vision is to spend time looking in the distance; 20/20/20 – bears repeating; this is key to not cause ciliary spasm
b. Recognize again the process of physical therapy – this will take time.
c. General tips/tricks on active focus. Do not hard blink, squint, or otherwise contort your face. These are manipulations of the area around the eye which can bring focus/clarity but are not activating the relaxing of the ciliary muscle. Given the goal is to relax a muscle, take a meditative, calming stance toward this. At first, you may experience stinging and then a tearing up of the eyes, this is slightly painful (i.e. stinging) but normal and is a bit of trick to teach your brain what clarity looks like. Overtime, as the ciliary spasm subsides this will not happen as often, or with as much intensity. Calmly and gently blinking and shifting the eyes to look at the top of the letter, to the bottom of the letter, and back up and down, left and right, can prove beneficial in finding focus.
d. Recognize again the process of physical therapy – this will take time.
Fifth, learn the evolution of your eyes discovering active focus as you move from a crawl, to a walk, to a run
- Ciliary spasm eliminated; stinging and tears show clarity.
- Takes multiple minutes or longer to bring focus, sometimes 45+ minutes of working at looking at one sign (or among signs on the sidewalk, for example)
- Blur can be cleared within 30 seconds.
- Can clear more blur at a farther distance, but need to be standing still
- Can blink to bring focus from a slight blur or larger degree of blur
- Can clear blur while walking and moving at slow speeds
- Differentials (which are defined as 1.5 diopters weaker than your normalized) should be worn for 4 weeks before wearing normalized
- Normalized (which are defined as the prescription necessary for your eyes to see 20/40 --or 20/50 depending on preference-- on Snellen chart indoors with good lighting
- Reduce normalized/differentials every 3 to 4 months as you are able to see 20/20 indoors on Snellen chart with good lighting
- Order glasses; one pair as normalized, one pair as differentials
- Wear plus readers over a pair of contacts; contacts = normalized, glasses = +1.5
- Wear minus over a pair of contact; contacts = differentials; glasses = -1.5
- Centimeter measurements! 3x a day if possible, but no less than 1x per week. Same lighting, same location, be consistent in what you define as edge of blur for the 12 pt. text