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Why We Don’t See Clearly

Unfortunately, I don’t actually know the answer to this question. There have been all kind of theories as to the causes of myopia – from the ciliary muscles in the eyes not working correctly to the muscles not relaxing because the eye is not elongating correctly. However, I wouldn’t trust any sources on the web. In fact, I don’t think I would even trust most research done by phds. The world is full of people trying to sell you glasses, and people who sell you natural remedies to myopia. Frankly, I don’t particularly care who’s right. I just want to see clearly without LASIK, glasses, or whatever other crap people think up. Yes, this means you shouldn’t trust this post either. This series of articles I write will probably be over months or years, and will be based on my own experiences, which you should judge for yourself.

This particular article is based on my life happenings The Circle Of Lights and Brightness and The Circle of Lights.

Why I Think Glasses Are Bad

We were born with clear sight for the most part. I can clearly recall a time when I was young and saw perfectly clearly. In fact, I had a pretty interesting case because my left eye was about 20/60, and my right eye was 20/200. Apparently, I use my right eye more when I look at close things, and my left eye more when I look at far away things. That’s not a bad thing in my opinion. It seems to me like a perfectly natural adaptation to having to look at objects the distance of a book to the distance of a blackboard on a consistent basis.

Then somewhere in the middle of elementary school, I was forced to wear glasses, because some guy deemed it necessary. From that point forward, my eyesight got progressively worse. I mean, why wouldn’t it? My eyes adapted from focusing on 0-infinity to looking at 10cm-50meters clearly. You now change my eye focusing range so that 10cm-50meters look like 5cm-infinity, obviously, my eyes are going to adapt again so that on the new scale, I’ll focus on 10cm-50meters (which on the old scale would be like 10cm-40meters).

Then they give you new glasses, and the cycle repeats. For the most part, nobody cares much because by the time you’re nearly blind, you’re also almost dead. It’s like a fix that kills you slowly, but slow enough that you’ll die beforehand anyway. Still, it would be nice (in my opinion) to not have to wear glasses. If you don’t think so, then recommend this article to someone you think might think so :-)

My First Experience At No Glasses

In the senior year of high school, I decided that I will not wear glasses, no matter what anyone said. I wanted to see clearly without them, because I felt kind of cheated since I was forced to wear them. My opinion is that my vision would have been a lot better had I not been forced to wear glasses, based on the previous logic. There was stern opposition from all of my family. Everyone thought I was crazy, but I completely ignored them. My dad called me from Hong Kong just to yell at me for an hour and tell me to wear glasses. I hung up on him and stopped talking to him for a year. When you want to try something, you try it. It doesn’t matter who your opposition is. You have the freedom to try the things you want to try and I intended to use that freedom to its utmost.

The interesting thing is, I did begin to see more clearly. I was able to read the board from the front row of class, even though I had -5ish diopter vision. I turned up the font to the computers so that I could see them more clearly. Before you start trying this though, an unexpected thing happened.

The adaptation to my eyes that I thought would happen did happen. It just didn’t take the form I thought it would. My eyelids started “growing”. It became hard to open my eyes. Granted, Asian people have droopy eyelids to begin with, but my eyes became a very, very thin line.

So what happened? Why did I see more clearly?

How Your Lenses Work

Take a piece of paper and poke a tiny hole in it. Now, look through the hole. You will see things a bit more clearly, but it will be darker! Why? Well, your eye has a lens in it. Like any lens, it’s a curved thing except for the middle part, which isn’t curved. The curved part bends the light. So the two theories for myopia are that either the curve isn’t quite right in your eye, or your muscles didn’t move the back part (where the light focuses after it’s curved) correctly.

Either way, the ray of light that hits the middle part of the lens doesn’t get bent, since it’s perpendicular to that tiny part of the lens. By blocking out most of the light rays that hit the outer parts of the lens (and hence needs to be bent more, so there’s more room for error), you get clearer image. Of course, there’s less light rays now, so it’s darker.

That is also why people squint. It cuts off the angled light rays in the vertical direction, so the diffraction happens in the horizontal direction. Just try it if you’re myopic. Look at a light. Since you’re near sighted, it’ll be a nice big circle of lights. Squint. Now it’s just a line of lights.

So, instead of my eyes themselves adapting, my eyelids adapted by going into a kind of a permanent squint.

Since I wanted my eyes to adapt (not the eyelids), and I wanted to see brightly, I moved into the second experiment.

My Second Try At No Glasses

By this time, it was freshmen year at Cornell. I was exceptionally busy taking 8 classes per semester, which equates to 28 credits (where you need 128 to graduate if I remember correctly). However, at the time, I saw a pair of glasses online for sale for like $30, which is just basically a piece of plastic with a whole lot of holes in it. This serves the same principle as the hole in paper approach, except it lets in more light. The only problem is that pictures look more like behive images (you see a lot of the same images), and it’s still kind of dark. Nevertheless, I went ahead with it for a while.

Unfortunately, there came a time when I wanted to see things in one piece. Plus I wasn’t exactly sure whether this particular method would be harmful to my eyes, and it seems unlikely that my eyes would adapt to it in any positive way that would allow me to see without glasses (I’ll just probably end up depending on these new “glasses”). Afterwards, it got busy and I haven’t gotten back to it – until I saw the lights pulsing the other day.

Seeing More Clearly, Suggestion #1

So after my experiences the other day in Brightness and The Circle of Lights, it seemed obvious to me that if there is more light, then your pupils will shrink. If your pupils start shrinking, then it’s like there’s a smaller hole in the paper (less rays hitting the outer edges of the lens). However, in this case, there is more light, so the image you see would be of the approximate same brightness or brighter than the previous cases, and of course, it would be clearer.

This is also why I’m pretty sure that Bates’ method of looking at sunlight through closed eyes (as documented here) improving eyesight temporarily is right, but I think it’s also harmful. I mean, he’s basically suggesting than you train your eyes to have a smaller pupil opening than normal. Yes you’ll see more clearly, but it’ll also be darker. I’d rather go with my beehive glasses. At least I can take them off.

So suggestion #1: Go where there’s more light or turn on the lights.

Okay, so that’s not exactly rocket science, and your mother’s probably been telling you this since you were born. However, now I’ve estabalished a pretty sound logical reasoning (in my opinion) for this. By the way, if this article inspired any ideas in you, please drop me a line and let me know so that I can try it and share it with everyone.

I will continue to think about this and make observations. I hope you will do the same. Together, we should be able to come up with a less harmful solution than glasses, less dangerous than LASIK, and more effective than other “natural remedies” out there.

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3 Responses to “How To See More Clearly (Part I)”

  1. Charlene on October 15th, 2008 5:46 am

    I wonder if another possible explanation is that single vision lenses for distance vision, in turn force muscles to increase the thickness of the cornea even further when accommodating near vision? Combine this with constant reading or other near work (and without sufficient breaks), and it sure seems like changes in muscle strength would eventually worsen overaccommodation—which is myopia.

    I’m not convinced by conventional wisdom, which according to Wikipedia is that the only proven explanation for myopia progressing over time, is that the eyeball (including its length) continues to grow with age. Apparently there is some conflicting evidence that constant reading might be a factor, but no proof of any benefit from either wearing progressive vision lenses or going without single vision lenses, part or all of the time. Yet have studies fully eliminated all possible combinations of contributing factors? What if you combine single vision lenses with constant near work, insufficient breaks, poor lighting, and/or overcorrection, etc.? I’m not ready to buy that near-sightedness worsens only by growing up and nothing else! Not when other internet articles indicate that doctors have been wondering for years if giving the myopic eye distance lenses for reading is such a good idea.

    In any event, perhaps in your particular case it might be worth trying “mono-vision”—correcting your strong eye to distance vision, and the weak eye to near vision. (The brain adapts to seamlessly switching between eyes, while still using the periphery of the other eye for depth perception. Although it’s easier if it’s your right eye that is used for distance, and there isn’t too huge a difference between eyes; sometimes it can still work.) That way each eye only has to accommodate half the range—your “near vision” eye only has to cover from near to mid-vision, and your “distance” eye only has to cover from far to mid distance.

    Maybe that would lessen any potential increased worsening, although reportedly there would still be some as long as your eyes continue to grow. (And with the natural onset of presbyopia as you get older, you may eventually need to switch to progressive vision. I don’t know whether that can be combined with mono-vision, but it couldn’t hurt to ask.)

    Since apparently there is at least one study that indicates undercorrecting myopia causes it to worsen even faster (the theory being that any blurred vision causes the eye to elongate), mono-vision (or at least progressive vision) might be a better alternative. Or leave them off to read, but at least wear them for distance vision (such as driving!).

  2. David on October 10th, 2009 8:48 pm

    Concerning your view as to why you can see more clearly when you squint.

    In photography it is known that when you reduce the aperture, you increase the depth of field. What this means is that more of the image is in focus. The reason however is not as you suggest above but has to do with the out of focus light that is falling on the light sensor covering a smaller area. You may want to look into this.

  3. David on October 10th, 2009 8:52 pm

    My eye sight is starting to go and I’m inclined like you not to use glasses unless I absolutely have to. Like you I think it comes down to “use it or lose it”
    I would love to know why I can see better on some days than others. This suggests that things are very malleable.