Natural Vision Correction: Beyond the Hope Hype
It’s also a hot topic for eye doctors.
For most people, breaking, losing, or misplacing their glasses is an annoying inconvenience. But for Christiaan Rollich, who was severely nearsighted, not wearing glasses or contacts meant not seeing at all.
“My vision was so bad the army wouldn’t accept me,” says Rollich, who grew up in the Netherlands and moved to the U.S. 15 years ago. “If I took out my contacts, I wouldn’t be able identify anybody in the room, no matter how close they were.”
Fortunately for Rollich, implanted contact lenses…
Natural vision correction is the belief that you can improve your vision with eye exercises, relaxation tips, and an eye massage every now and then. Some people say it works. Others say it’s nonsense.
There’s no proof the technique works, only wishful thinking, says Michael Repka, a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology agrees. In a 2013 report, the organization said natural vision correction doesn’t help myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), or other vision problems caused by disease.
The American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus also found no evidence that vision therapy corrects myopia or keeps it from getting worse. Still, some people insist it works.
Who Might It Help?
Leonard Press is an optometrist at the Vision and Learning Center in Fair Lawn, N.J. He practices visual therapy. It’s a kind of physical therapy for your eyes and brain. The goal is to develop, heal, or improve how you see. Vision therapy can help certain conditions other than myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.
Experts believe it may fix convergence insufficiency, for instance. That’s when the eyes have a hard time coming together to focus on an object that’s brought closer. It can cause eye strain, double vision, and other problems.
But doctors differ on whether visual therapy can fix other eye issues.
Some people have blurry vision because “their focusing system is focusing too hard,” Press says. Natural vision exercises that tackle the cause of the problem “can make you less dependent on glasses,” he says, but it helps only “the minority of patients.”
Glasses or No Glasses? The Bottom Line
In 1920, a doctor named William Bates wrote a book called Perfect Sight Without Glasses. In it he questioned whether glasses were the only way to fix a person’s vision. He decided they weren’t and created The Bates Method. It’s a way for people to improve their sight without glasses that’s still used today. But not all eye doctors are sold on the idea.