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April 2007 - Posts

Glasses weaken your eyes

This post is part of my vision recovery process and thus uses information I've been acquiring from my attempts to restore my vision. The main thing is that nearsightedness (myopia) primarily results from excess tension in your eyes, specifically the ciliary muscle that controls your lens.

A couple of days ago I was upstairs working on a computer in a different department at work. Being somewhat self-conscious about being seen using my pinhole glasses up there I just kept my regular prescription glasses on when I went. The computer I was working on was a lot closer than the one in my office but since I'm using reduced strength glasses now -- more on that some other time -- I didn't think I'd experience too much harm. Well, about two hours later I feel a slight bit of tension in my head and thought to take my glasses off, immediately thinking they were the culprit. I was kind of shocked to discover I couldn't see the screen as well without my glasses. No, I didn't forget I'm nearsighted, what I mean is that it was even blurrier than it was the week prior when I was working on the computer and decided to not wear my glasses while doing so. Since I believe relaxing your eyes is key to better vision, and that vision can even be improved at all, I decided not to sweat the overly blurry images and just tried to relax my eyes. All I could think to do was rub my eyes, look far away (no staring though), and squeeze my eyes some. After a few minutes the screen became less blurry, enough that I could continue working without my glasses.

That my vision had temporarily gotten so much worse than I had remembered I started wondering how exactly glasses make your vision worse. I've had a suspicion that they do for a long time, and apparently a good many others do too, but I couldn't find an explanation that satisfied me. I even had my own theory: that they prevent your eye muscles from relaxing. Even with that theory I was still a bit disappointed. After thinking about my experience and doing reading about the principles of light, refraction, and accommodation in the eye I have a new theory on how glasses weaken your eyes.

When you're nearsighted light is brought to a focus in front of your retina if you're looking at an image that's far away. This happens, according to my own theories, because the ciliary muscle in your eye is too stiff to relax, preventing the lens in your eye from being flattened and focusing light onto your retina. As an object gets closer to you the focal point of the light from it similarly moves towards you. Thus if you're nearsighted the focal point gets closer and closer to being on your retina, eventually the object can be a certain distance in front of you and you'll see it clearly. At this point myopes rejoin the visual process of natural vision, meaning your ciliary muscle can adjust the lens' shape to bring light into focus. So as an object moves even closer to you the focal point begins to move behind your retina, so to keep the light in focus your ciliary muscle contracts which thickens your lens.

Now, corrective lenses such as glasses, contact lenses, and even laser surgery since after the procedure your cornea behaves as a corrective lens. When you're prescribed corrective lenses the focal point of light when you're looking at optical infinity is measured, basically this means your eyes are as relaxed as possible. How much extra accommodation is needed to move this focal point onto your retina becomes your prescription. A key thing to keep in mind here is that corrective lenses are designed to focus light a certain distance in all cases. If you happen to be wearing your corrective lenses while doing the exercise noted above light will focus onto your retina even when you're looking far away, since this is what your corrective lenses are designed to do. Now as an object moves closer to you the focal point of light from it still moves towards and eventually away from you, only now with corrective lenses on the focal point has been shifted to be behind your retina. At this point your ciliary muscle can contract which thickens your natural lens thus keeping the object in focus.

Did you notice anything in that? Your ciliary muscle is already stiff from too much prolonged contraction, in my theory, but by trying to focus on something that isn't at optical infinity with your glasses on you add more contraction to your ciliary muscle. It's a subtle thing really but it is so key to how glasses weaken your eyes. Because what really happens is not that they weaken your eyes but that they highly promote further stiffening of your ciliary muscle. The net effect of this is that it can relax even less than it could before. I say corrective lenses "highly promote" rather than "cause" because if corrective lenses were used in their prescribed manner they wouldn't be a problem. But all you have to do is look down at your feet, a TV, the dashboard of your car, a book, a computer screen and you aren't using them in their prescribed manner since these objects are close enough to your eyes that the focal point of light from them will fall behind your retina thus requiring accommodation by your natural lens to bring them into focus.

If you use your glasses to do close work then you're adding even more strain to your eyes than they would otherwise need. I think this is why wearing them causes your vision to deteriorate so rapidly. If you only wore them for far away tasks then it would take them longer to cause a stiffening of your ciliary muscle, and they may not even do that if you manage to provide enough opportunities for your eyes to relax. So to summarize my new theory on how glasses weaken your vision: because you're using them in ways they're not prescribed.

More on my pinhole glasses

First off let me just say that pinholes rock, haha! I am absolutely loving these things. I mostly use them at work in place of my prescription glasses while working on the computer. I've gotten in the habit of leaving them there so I don't usually use them at home, but when I do I can watch TV with them.

Far away these glasses look like shades according to the people at work. With me being a black guy and having two monitors, when I look at one or the other monitor I move my head and look a lot like Stevie Wonder according to many people. Stick out tongue Once they get that joke out of their system they proceed to ask me why I'm wearing shades at work, at that point I then proceed to tell them they're not quite shades, but pinhole glasses! Then I have to explain to them why you'd want to wear glasses with holes in them...sigh. I think nearly everyone that's asked me about them wears corrective lenses, and I've even found out how many people I thought had good vision are just wearing contact lenses! Shock, horror!!! I swear man, if you have a computer job you're probably going to develop bad eyes, seriously.

Despite my earlier sigh I really enjoy explaining to people about pinholes because most have never considered natural vision improvement before so this is my way to expose them to it. I've been wearing them for roughly 8 hours a day every weekday for two weeks now, since my last post about them, and I'm starting to get a feel for how they can help restore your vision. First off, your eye has a muscle in it called the ciliary muscle that controls the thickness of your natural lens, so this muscle's movement controls your focus. It contracts so you can focus on close-up things, and expands to focus on far away things. My personal theory on nearsightedness is that when you focus on close-up things for too long, like computers or books, this muscle becomes stiff and basically stuck and can't relax enough for you to see far away. You can demonstrate this property of muscles by holding your arm out for about a minute. After the time's up try to bring your arm back down and you'll probably experience stiffness in your shoulders. Imagine holding a muscle in place for hours on end nearly everyday; that's what happens to the ciliary muscle in your eye.

Now, pinholes. Pinholes let you see clearly regardless of the focusing error in the eye, by focusing error I'm referring to your degree of nearsightedness. The improvement you get is related to your error. For example, if you need -3.00 prescription lenses to see far away you'll see about 20/40 with pinholes, if you need -5.00 you'll get about 20/70 with pinholes. There's a chart on this page where I'm getting this from, scroll to the bottom. The main thing to take from this is that your improvement is tied to the condition of your eye. If you try to strain your eyes to see while wearing pinholes you'll start to see worse. Keep in mind your ciliary muscle is already stiff and under a lot of strain anyway if you're nearsighted, so adding more strain is essentially like increasing your focusing error, moving you from say -3.00 to -3.25 for example. Since you get such immediate response as to the effect of straining your eyes you'll soon learn that straining just isn't working and try something else to restore clear vision.

That something else is relaxing your eye. It honestly took me about 2 1/2 days of wearing pinholes before I finally broke the habit of tensing my eyes and was able to consistently keep them relaxed so I could see clearly through them. Now you see clearly out of pinholes anyway, but the kind of neat side effect of having this black plastic around the holes is that they distort the light coming in at the edges of the holes making things look fuzzy. That's not really neat, I know, but you can get rid of the blurriness this induces by relaxing your eyes because it gets a lot worse the harder you try to get rid of it, by straining that is. So the neat part is that it helps you to relax your eye, like positive feedback. I think wearing pinholes is probably better than not wearing anything on your eyes at all because of this positive feedback effect.

I notice improvement in my eye nearly everyday, not huge improvement mind you but enough to notice. Like I can read license plates on cars a bit further away than before, I can sit back just a little bit more from my monitor at home and still be able to read it, stuff like that. Other effects are that I can feel my eye relaxing. Like sometimes I feel a stinging sensation in my eye and it tears up. But I don't think this is a bad thing since it's kind of like how my muscles feel when they relax after being tense for a long time. Probably the biggest benefit of pinholes is that I'm breaking the habit of straining my eyes. It seems many people think you have to strain your eyes to see far away. You shouldn't be straining your eyes to see far away, you need to relax them. Your eyes will focus on things by themselves, you really don't need to strain them at all, ever. I never quite realized how much of a habit straining my eyes had become until I started wearing pinholes. More specifically, during the moments I'm not wearing my pinholes is when I notice this.

I came across some site about pinholes and it said they noticed an improvement of a diopter per month (a -3.00 prescription is 3 diopters). I didn't really believe it at first but I'm starting to wonder. Even if my eyes don't improve that fast I'm definitely noticing enough improvement with pinholes to keep wearing them.

Zenni Optical

I mentioned this store once before and said I'd write about them again when I got my glasses in. Well, they came in and I'm as giddy as can be! I bought two pair of glasses on there for a grand total of $58, that's including the $5 shipping. Both pair of glasses have anti-reflective coatings on them, a $5 extra. Both of the lenses are the really thin type of plastic too, that's the 1.57 high index lens the site mentions. The glasses that I got were $13 and $30 and the metal for the frames feels thinner than my regular glasses, but that's the only negative about them, if that's even a negative. Even if these frames break -- which I really doubt -- I can just buy another pair for about $40 or so ($30 glasses + $5 anti-reflective coating + $5 shipping). Seriously, the lenses for my last pair of glasses that I got from my eye doctor were $85, that's not even including the frames! I can get two complete pair of glasses, lenses and frames, for less than that at Zenni Optical. And did I mention that the lenses at Zenni are all the super thin type.

If you wear glasses you seriously need to head on over to this site because you'll be amazed at how cheaply you can buy prescription glasses. The prices are so cheap there you can buy glasses to match your outfit. If you'd be willing to pay $40 for a pair of jeans you can spend that much for glasses.

Note to self...
Emotions are a power source. If you're happy you feel energized to do things, if you're sad less so. But there's something else to this, I'm not quite sure what right now.