Reversing Lens-Induced Myopia

A Human-Friendly Primer

Andrew Backhouse
October 2018

Disclaimers

I am not a medical professional. What follows is obviously medical advice. It is not delivered with the warranty of fitness for any purpose. I am some guy on the Internet. You are responsible for your health. If you follow this advice, make sure you read the note about driving.

The model deals with glasses-induced myopia, and perhaps with certain kinds of habit-induced myopia. Myopia happens for a range of medical reasons and the model doesn't attempt to speak to all of them. I don't know what kind you have.

I am not asserting that this model is correct. It is a theory. I am only enumerating my understanding of it in detail. I happen to suspect that the interventions it suggests are somewhat effective, but that more good research is necessary.

I am not trying to sell you anything.

If you are concerned about your vision health, speak to an ophthalmologist (the actual doctors who work with eyes).

Which method is this?

It will probably end up being called the EndMyopia method or the Steiner method if it hits mainstream. It's not the Bates method.

I dunno, it's the Wild West out here, man. This is a method that says that some specific poor vision habits plus slightly-too-powerful glasses induce myopia, and that some other specific good vision habits plus different glasses can reverse it.

In various corners of the internet there is an overwhelming abundance of anecdotal claims from people who aren't sockpuppets (I checked) that the model's interventions are effective. This is what led me to try it. A lot of the information here is based on a synthesis of the perspectives provided by people in various communities attempting this process.

The damage model

Analogously, if someone led a very sedentary life and had weak muscles as a result of using them infrequently, one effective intervention might be to put them in a mechanical exoskeletal suit which allowed them to function at normal strength. A consequence of this would be that their muscles would atrophy further, and the suit would have to do more and more of the work.

The repair model

Analogously, you can make the choice to gradually reduce the "assistive quotient" on your mechanical exoskeleton and exercise your muscles into capability again.

What are good vision habits?

Important stuff

Frequently asked questions

Does this work for older people? I can't answer that from personal experience, but there are stories in the communities of people 65 and over making substantial improvements. My guess is that repair is still possible, but the rate of repair gets slower as you age. Commit to being patient and go for it.

Did it work for you? Well enough so far that I made this site because I think getting this information out there is urgent. I will post full documentation once my journey is complete, or amend this site with details if something goes wrong. I'm not going to answer "yes" until I have a signed document from an optometrist stating I have perfect vision. I'm not a disciple, I have no horse in this race beyond being a myopia sufferer. I am a scientifically-minded human. My vision has improved in empirical tests. I am not yet glasses-free.

So this actually works? If you dig around for the forums where people are doing this stuff, or look through the EndMyopia blog, there is a lot of evidence from people who have fixed substantial myopia, and from others who have made massive strides in doing so. The method's popularity is recent and gradual, and it's a process which takes several years to complete. You decide.

Humanity's myopia crisis

If the model (or some variant of it) is correct about glasses causing and exacerbating myopia, modern optometry might be responsible for an astonishing amount of eye damage.

Myopia prevalence is increasing at around 500 million sufferers per decade[2]. The rate of decay is appalling, especially in South-East Asia[3]. A WHO paper[4] puts the myope count at 2,584 million in 2020 and 4,949 million in 2050, and the high myope (-5 or worse) count at 300 million in 2020 and 925 million in 2050. As mentioned earlier, dramatic vision damage spikes after -8[1]. It is a colossal and very recent epidemic. This supports the idea that it's a result of some newly different facet of life - more time spent staring at nearby screens with strong correction, perhaps.

I believe that the vast majority of optometry professionals seek in good faith to do right by the people who come to them for help. Glasses work. If your vision is blurry and you put on some glasses, you will see more clearly. This is helpful.

I also believe that with extraordinary power comes extraordinary responsibility. Doctors and their kin are the last bastion of blind faith when it comes to science. People trust them. These professionals need to take their power very seriously, and take exceptional measures to make sure they aren't doing harm. Those who do not - who trust to the herd protection of "everyone else is doing it like this" - risk doing harm, and in their assent perpetuating much greater harm. Make sure your short-term help isn't doing long-term harm.

(My suspicion is that bad habits from Internet addiction and a generally more information-based society are a bigger part of the equation than optometric protocols, but that those protocols are still a key factor in myopia-inception. There's also a lot of missed potential for positive change: optometrists are uniquely positioned to teach people about good vision habits and reverse this epidemic. If, you know, the model is right.)

On Lasik

If you are considering laser eye surgery, please skim Lasik Complications. It is somewhat hyperbolic, but its point is ultimately valid: providers consistently undersell the risks going into the (very irreversible) procedure. One study[5] from a laser surgery provider itself noted 20% of patients with eye pain, 40% with light sensitivity, and 33% with difficulty to drive at night or do close-up work, at five years post-operation.

Further reading

Where did the model come from?

The earliest ancestor to these principles I can find is from a YouTuber called C. G. Hayes, who released a document called the "No BS Guide to Vision Improvement" which summarized his findings. It's worth reading and it touches on all the most important principles.

Todd Becker of gettingstronger.org has some ideas I disagree with, but his take on the model is pretty true to my experiences, and he digs into active focus well.

It was most substantially developed by Jake Steiner of endmyopia.org. Jake has a vast wealth of valuable writing about the subject and his blog posts go into a lot of useful detail. Unfortunately, Jake has some issues.

His posts are around 40% useful information and 60% ramble, awkwardly conspiratorial "let's you and me stick it to the man, eh?", and self-aggrandizement. He calls himself a guru unironically and has a pet collective noun for his readers. He has a financial incentive to make the blog archives hard to parse. Also, the blog archives are hard to parse.

He has also been making a concerted effort to move the community's conversations into forums which are not publicly accessible, and he enforces strong groupthink within those private groups. He comes across as a cult leader who is trying to keep his flock from straying. I honestly have no idea whether it's malicious but it is hugely damaging to the mainstream uptake of these ideas.

I thought I'd take a crack at summarizing the most important findings across all these thinkers on one page, including stuff from community members and my own experiences. I think Jake in particular has done humanity a valuable service in figuring out what he has, but it's time to stop treating this like property and start treating it like a common resource.

References

[1] https://www.fundacionimo.org/en/40-myopia-sufferers-more-8-dioptres-run-risk-disorders-centre-retina

[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0161642016000257

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470669/

[4] http://www.who.int/blindness/causes/MyopiaReportforWeb.pdf local copy

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27373395