I started wearing glasses when I was eleven years old. It’s stunning to realize that for most of my life, I’ve been wearing glasses or contacts in order to see clearly. Sometimes, I feel sad when I realize that I had perfect vision for just ten years, but that is about to change.
Or, to put it more accurately, it’s changing right now!
I have to go back a decade to explain. A friend of mine had a book on his shelf that caught my eye. It was a thin, worn paperback called, Better Sight Without Glasses, and it was first published in 1929.
What fascinated me about the book was that its author, Harry Benjamin, claimed to have gone from being so nearsighted he was practically blind, to being able to get by fine without glasses—all in a span of two and a half years.
That rocked my world. I had never heard of such a thing, of eyesight improving. On the contrary, I accepted the mainstream convention that our vision declines as we age.
I borrowed the book from my friend and devoured it in one reading, probably not the best thing to do for my eyes, but I was riveted. The author described how he had developed his own version of the Bates Method for natural vision improvement to reduce his nearsightedness. He described a number of eye exercises and at the core of his philosophy (and the Bates method) was that glasses actually make your vision WORSE.
He advocated taking off your glasses and wearing them as little as possible. Given that my prescription was in the -6.00 range (very nearsighted and coke-bottle glass if I don’t order the super-expensive thin lenses), I figured that I had nothing to lose and I gave it a try.
I took off my glasses around the home and once in a blue moon, I was brave enough to go for a walk without them. It was scary and of course, my worst fear of running into someone I knew and not seeing them was realized.
However, when I went to see my eye doctor a few months later, something extraordinary happened. My prescription was reduced by half a diopter (0.50). My eye doctor couldn’t believe it or accept it.
He tested and re-tested my eyes three times. I told him I was doing exercises to improve my vision, but his opinion was that it was probably due to presbyopia. Basically, in his professional opinion, I was getting older and my vision was getting worse even though my close vision had improved.
Yeah, that made no sense to me either, especially since I was in my early thirties and in optimal health at the time. I knew my vision improvement was due to the exercises and to taking off my glasses.
Now, you would think having just been given a miracle, I would keep going with it. Unfortunately at the time, I squandered it. I got distracted by work and life and I stopped doing the eye exercises. I started wearing my glasses all the time and then I forgot. For almost a decade, I completely forgot that I had actually improved my eyesight.
And then the universe sent me a reminder in January of this year.
(to be continued)