Today I’m doing an experiment on myself. Who better? I am going without contacts or glasses all day long. Crazy! Why would I do that? Well, the idea goes back about 25 years to a conversation my husband and I had with a young couple we were friends with at the time. He was experimenting with a program for vision improvement. I don’t remember the name of it now, but the idea is the same as I have experienced in the programs I have studied. The premise is that as you go without correction to your eyesight, your vision improves. At the time I thought he was totally insane and affirmed that there was no way I could possibly survive without my -6 prescription lenses.
Fast forward 20+ years and I began looking into the possibility of natural vision improvement. I figured that if I could fix my feet (a story for another blog) I should be able to fix my eyes. Over the years I had tried out a couple of programs on a short-term basis but found the demands (in money and time) too extensive with my young family. About 3 years ago I purchased The Program for Better Vision by Martin Sussman as well as Rebuild Your Vision by Orlin G. Sorensen. I worked on each of these programs fairly diligently for the time periods suggested initially and was disappointed with my fairly minimal results.
To be fair, I did get some results. I worked with my regular optometrist (as suggested in the programs) to decrease my prescription strength. He was open to giving me trial contact lenses in ever-changing strengths over the course of several months but I didn’t achieve 20/20 vision with the weaker lenses. I did, however, get rid of the reading glasses I had succumbed to just prior to ordering the programs. It became a compromise for me. I was willing to have my distance vision be a little bit blurred in order to see clearly to read. In addition, I had been wearing toric lenses for my astigmatism in both eyes and I was able to get rid of that correction altogether and use standard soft contacts. My optometrist was actually amazed and said it shouldn’t have been possible.
At about that time I began reading more about achieving 3D vision or in other words, stereovision. I had been doing some exercises in my vision improvement programs that encourage eye teaming and they were very difficult for me. I became concerned when I started seeing double and sought out the assistance of a developmental optometrist recommended to me by my friend. She was in vision therapy at the time for her amblyopia (better known as “lazy eye”). She and my neighbor, whose daughter was in vision therapy, both told me about Sue Barry’s book Fixing my Gaze. My neighbor gave me her copy to read and it has been an inspiration to me ever since!
Over the course of the past 18 months, while I have been in vision therapy I have set aside the natural vision improvement courses. Generally speaking, optometrists don’t find these programs particularly effective. So I almost fell off my chair last week when Dr. Davies suggested I might want to go without contacts (or glasses) for two weeks. He had measured the curvature of my eyes and found it to be in the normal range. He indicated that he thought perhaps I was never near-sighted at all, but had been overcorrected for my whole life. WOW! (Side note: I am now wearing -4.5 and -5 lenses so going without is pretty challenging).
I got my first pair of glasses at the age of 2 years 11 months. I had woken up from a nap and suddenly my eyes were crossed. My mom freaked out and took me to our family opthamologist. This is the same doctor who performed eye surgery on my cross-eyed younger brother. Standard procedure at the time (and even now) is to prescribe bifocals. The lenses straighten the eyes but do nothing for actual binocular function. I wore bifocals until I was 15 and could finally get contact lenses. My eyes looked pretty straight most of the time until the last few years.
I’m not sure I can do two weeks, but I can start with the majority of a day. I put on my full strength glasses to drive my son to school and took them off when I got home. I adjusted the computer screen so I can see to write, but I still have a headache from craning my neck. (Obviously more adjustments need to be made.) So, if I indeed do have glasses-induced near-sightedness, how long will it take for my eyes to do what they are naturally meant to do, and see the world clearly? I’ll keep you posted!