I still need glasses, and my eyes get worse every year

Have you heard about this latest loony claim that you don’t need eyeglasses? It’s all a scam by Big Opthalmology, and with a heavy dose of woo you can see perfectly clearly.

Rebecca Watson digs into it — it turns out this is nothing new, there was something called the Bates Method about a century ago that didn’t work, either.

I don’t know how long I’ve needed glasses. I know I couldn’t see clearly for a good chunk of my childhood, and it was only in my second year of high school that my mother took me in to get my eyes examined (I am very nearsighted) and I walked out with a new pair of glasses. I still remember how astonishing it was to be able to read a big “DRUGSTORE” sign from across the street, and see birds a whole block away. If only I’d known earlier that I could have fixed the whole problem by flexing my chakras and sniffing aromatic oils.


  1. Artor says

    I’ve had better than 20/20 vision since around puberty. I’d gotten pretty used to it, and I liked it. I wonder why I chose to go farsighted around age 45? I sure would like to get rid of these stupid little glasses, but the fact is, THEY WORK, and wishful thinking isn’t going to get my perfect vision back.

  2. bcw bcw says

    I have 6 diopters of astigmatism and almost no spherical correction which means I see horizontal lines sort of. As a teen, my astigmatism changed sudden and when I got new glasses, wheels weren’t round for three days. It was just like a cartoon where the oval wheels go round and round changing shape to keep the same outline as they turn. Also had a headache for a day or two, then my brain adapted. Oddly, things don’t look out of round without my glasses but that may be because the sideways blur covers a width like the out-of-round.

  3. bcw bcw says

    What’s entertaining, is that as another glasses-dependent person, is that it is immediately obvious you can’t see anything without your glasses. I’m not sure what makes it visible – are your eyes not quite pointing in the right direction? This is true of most glasses-blind people. A question for inquiry.

  4. mordred says

    I don’t need glasses. My eyes are still great. It’s just that the small print on packaging and stuff suddenly became smaller a while ago!

  5. robro says

    mordred — For me, not only did they switch to a smaller font size, but one with more filigrees to the characters, and fuzzier.

  6. robro says

    I seem to recall a similar “learn not to depend on glass” craze in the late-70s or early-80s. One of my best friends tried it for a short time. That said thee are some things being done in optical surgery that seem to be working. My partner has used glasses and contact lens since she was small child. A little over a year ago she had cataract surgery that, as I understand it, replaced the lenses in her eyes. She no longer uses contacts. She may wear glasses in some situations, but I don’t see her routinely wearing them. My son also wore glasses when he was a first in school, but LASIK corrected his vision. Obviously neither of them “trained” themselves to not need glasses.

  7. says

    I got glasses when I was in Junior High, and I remember walking out of the optometrist office and seen the individual leaves on the trees. My Mom felt so bad, I felt bad for her and told her it was OK. Unfortunately my teachers expected more from me since I was now wearing glasses which indicated that I was more intelligent, I guess. I wasn’t.

  8. =8)-DX says

    I remember getting probably the same book with the same unsubstantiated lies. I spent about a year torturing myself trying to improve my eyesight naturally and wear glasses as little as possible… and it just didn’t work. Like at all. You feel a bit more relaxed sometimes, but you don’t see any better. And it’s such a bag of false hope and cruelty that preys at people’s desperation. I had much the same experience with the Catholic Church, except that took longer to figure out.

  9. christoph says

    There’s a surgery called “Refractive Lens Exchange” (RLE) that replaces the lens in each eye. I know two people who had it and are happy with the results. It’s expensive, around $10,000 last I checked.

  10. hemidactylus says

    I needed glasses sorta since 2nd grade. I could still pass the eye test for my driver license though. I mostly wore them for watching TV or movies in a theater. Then a couple years ago my vision went really wonky in one eye. I procrastinated, fearing the worst, and when I finally went to the ophthalmologist he told me I had cataracts. Whew! Easy fix.

    The upside is that now I don’t need glasses for distance at all with my new entended depth IOLs. Downside is I need readers. I can get by without them. I’m using my iPad without readers as I type now. And some slightly annoying light flaring at night.

    The moral is don’t take care of your eyes by not wearing sunglasses like me and get cataracts in your mid 50s and you can have new lenses surgically installed in your eyes. Worked for me.

  11. says

    I’ve been near sighted with astigmatism and have worn glasses since the third grade. For a long time my Rx was stable, Sure, in my 40s the fine print was getting harder to see, but then a funny thing happened: part of my Rx actually improved. One of my eyes is now “plano” for correction at distance, although there is still some astigmatism. That axis has rotated as well. In fact, a couple of years ago I told my eye doc, “I think the axis has rotated about 5 or 10 degrees clockwise”. He checked (obviously), and it had. He said he never had a patient tell him such a thing. It was obvious to me because if I rotated my glasses a bit (pushing down one side of the frame with a finger), the image got sharper. Things have changed to the point where I can no longer put on a pair of glasses from 10 years ago and see much of anything. I hope the trend continues but I kinda doubt it will. In the meantime, the old glasses get donated.

    @8 Ronald Couch
    I recalling reading an item several years ago where people were shown photos of individuals, some wearing glasses and some not (mixed randomly with models both wearing and not wearing). They were asked to judge how intelligent these people appeared. (Yes, kinda stupid but…) It turns out that there was an obvious bias that wearing glasses makes you “look smarter” to many people.

  12. says

    @11 hemi
    The moral is don’t take care of your eyes by not wearing sunglasses like me and get cataracts in your mid 50s and you can have new lenses surgically installed in your eyes.

    I started wearing Photogray lenses in 7th grade and never stopped. Basically, since I was 12, I’ve never been outside without wearing sunglasses (except for short period when I tried contacts). Now in my mid 60s, the doc says I only have modest development of cataracts. Obviously, I failed to follow your advice.

    On a side note, it seems to me that Photgray lenses have gotten worse over the years. They do not seem to get as dark as they used to, say, compared to the lenses from 30 years ago. Also, the plastic versions (Transitions, I think) do not seem to get as dark as the current glass versions. I only buy glass lenses as I find the chromatic aberrations in some plastics (like polycarbonate) terrible to behold. CR-39 isn’t bad but you can’t beat glass. I’ve had workers at my eye doc’s office say otherwise, but my usual retort is “When Canon and Nikon start making plastic optics for their DSLR lenses, we can talk”.

  13. Rich Woods says

    I didn’t need reading glasses until I was 54. The optometrist joked that my eyes were about eight years younger than the rest of me, to which I retorted that I’d sooner have the rest of my body be eight years younger than my eyes.

  14. hemidactylus says

    @13- jimf
    Too little too late, but I recently invested in some RayBan Predators and some polarized Gargoyles (a bit more refined than the Terminator originals). Live and learn.

    There’s always a chance of “secondary cataract” which is opacity of a capsule behind the lens. There’s a laser surgery that fixes that, but I prefer to not go that route if I can help it.

  15. nomdeplume says

    Yeah, I hear if you put ivomectin on your eyeballs, and then bleach them, you’ll have no more problems with sight.

  16. brucej says

    I was in Second grade, and for me the most astonishing thing was that people had faces on TV, not just blobs. (parents were CONVINCED that sitting too close to the TV would cause all sorts of havoc with us kids.)

    My opthamologist tried having me do exercises to ‘strengthen my eyes’ which pretty quickly proved fruitless.

    I had a similar event in High school when I finally got a hearing aid (when we got a competent ENT we finally learned that I was probably significantly hearing impaired since birth; it’s just that I didn’t fit the usual symptom: I was doing quite well in school. It’s just as well I had glasses, being half deaf I ended up reading voraciously instead of interacting with people or watching TV. Was reading near College level by the time I was in 4th grade)

    Now I joke my “next glasses prescription is a dog”, although after having steadily gotten worse and worse until well into middle age where it’s finally levelled off.

  17. Alverant says

    There’s still a problem with Big Opthalmology. One company controls too much of the lens/frames production and they guard their power pretty fiercely. Any new company that tries to take off gets smacked down.

  18. Bad Bart says

    @18 Look online. I’m currently wearing glasses with progressive lenses that I bought for less than $50, including the frames and shipping. I’ve got single-prescription glasses that were $10 or less. My eye doctor always suggests that I’d have better optics if I bought my glasses from them, but I don’t think I’d have 10-20 times better optics, especially for my very limited use (I wear contacts+reading glasses most of the day).

  19. gijoel says

    Presbyopia started intruding into my life 10 years ago. I held out against reading glasses for two years before I gave in. I can read my phone without my glasses, but doing so for more than ten minutes gives me eyestrain and a headache. I hate wearing glasses, but if I don’t I suffer for it. Big Woo is full of shit.

  20. hemidactylus says

    @20- gijoel
    Yeah that’s where I’m at. I can read stuff on my phone ok for short time periods but then my eyes throb. Forget vitamin bottles or cooking instructions on cans. But for the first time in my life I can read titles on books from across the room or see very distant traffic or buildings when driving.

    Yesterday my neighbor’s cat was stalking a squirrel in a tree ten feet above him. I could be amused by processing that scene quickly. I should take up birding now as before I couldn’t quite sense the details.

  21. grovergardner says

    brucej, when I was a kid in the early 60’s, our eye doctor believed in “eye strengthening.” My older brother actually followed the program and he didn’t need glasses until he was much older. I, on the other hand, was fitted out with a prescription that made my vision worse on the theory that it would strengthen my eyesight to strain to see the TV, blackboard or anything else, really. That didn’t last long.

  22. chrislawson says

    [1] Big Optometry, not Big Ophthalmology
    [2] There are only two muscle structures in the eye that affect visual acuity. The iris controls the aperture (actually two muscles, one dilates, the other contracts). The ciliary muscle maintains tension on the lens that varies to change lens shape and thus focal length. Even if you could make your ciliary muscle stronger by specific exercises, for which there is not a shred of evidence or theoretical basis (yes muscles get stronger with use, but the ciliary muscle gets plenty of exercise whenever your eyes are open), at best it would give you a slightly wider range of focal length. We naturally can see to infinity at one extreme, so all this means is that you might be able to focus a centimetre or two closer. Again, no evidence for this but at least it’s superficially plausible. But if the problem is cataracts or a suboptimal corneal shape, which together account for 99% of all visual problems, then ciliary muscle strength is not going to make the slightest difference. It’s like thinking you can fix softness from a camera filter by zooming in.

  23. chrislawson says

    Actually, now that I think about it further, it’s not even true that exercise will help the focal range much. The ciliary muscle relaxes to shorten the focal length, so if you’re having trouble reading close text, say on a computer screen or printed page, then a stronger ciliary muscle won’t achieve anything. It might give a small improvement to distance vision.

  24. says

    I have a conspiracy theory, that all conspiracy theories except this one were created by the CIA. If they realize that I know this, they are going to start killing off conspiracy theorists.

  25. ricko says

    Yeah, I had my first stoke about twenty years ago and then I needed glasses, and I was perfectly fine without them before. I gotta find out WHY I don’t NEED glasses.

  26. says

    This reminds me vaguely of that 40-something silicon valley douchewipe who thinks he is prolonging his life by smearing himself with creams and getting blood transfusions, etc. The reality is that he’s spent a lot of life indoors (out of the sun) not doing manual labor that breaks down the joints and is young – 40 is at the point where you’ll start showing signs of age’s advance and he’s in for a rude shock in 20 years. The people who are going around saying “you don’t need glasses” really should be saying, “at this time, I can get by without glasses.” Their eyes will change as they age and reality will give them a rude shock.

    It seems to be a trend. I was talking with a young person, the other day, who said that COVID was bullshit because, after all, she had it once and experienced little side-effects. Well, you’re 25 and you appear (to me) to have had it early in the pandemic, so you’ve got some immune response cutting back on its effect on you. Meanwhile, in order to believe all that, you have to dismiss the millions of people who suffered badly from COVID and please, for god’s sake, don’t say dumb shit like “humans could handle smallpox if they just had to develop immunity!” (true: vaccines develop immunity, it works) It’s tempting to chalk this kind of thing up to ignorance but it seems like it’s not exactly pure ignorance – it’s just a bit of knowledge meeting ignorance and jumping to conclusions.

  27. says

    I was prescribed glasses in high school in the mid 70s. I wore them for a week, didn’t care for them, and put them away. I still have them in a drawer here somewhere.
    Over 30 years later, my vision was tested–and came up 20/20. Was it just bullshit? Did my eyes “get better?”
    No. I just got better at guessing what I was seeing. It works well enough.
    Of course, nowadays I can’t focus on anything closer than arm’s length, hence the reading glasses.
    I noticed some time ago that Hollywood likes to slap a pair of glasses on any smart character because, you know, SMART. That may actually be an improvement on their old habit in the 60s and 70s, when they would routinely take some perfectly lovely young actress, slap a pair of glasses on her, and pretend she was ugly. We used to make fun of that–“Oh my god, she’s hideous! Glasses! Ugh!”
    I call it the Eva Grubb syndrome, for those of you who remember your Gilligan’s Island.

  28. AstroLad says

    @30 submoron
    The Bates Method as I recall. Haven’t looked it up. Did you remember the chapter number (I certainly didn’t), or did you have to peek? ;>)

    Gardner is still my go-to source for any of this kind of nonsense. F&F is what, 70 years old, and still relevant: everything old is new. The names and the details change, but BS is still BS.

  29. killyosaur says

    Been getting used to my new world of no glasses. Wore them for the better part of 30+ years (since at least middle school). If it weren’t for my Opthalmologist telling me not to start wearing glasses yet, I probably would for some of the close up reading stuff. (had cataract surgery back in Feb/March of this year at the ripe ol age of 42…)

  30. seachange says

    I have no idea what the name of the exercises is, but my left eye doesn’t cooperate on its own. I had to learn how to make it move in order to get stereo vision. Sometimes, it just won’t. But its great when I need it.

  31. flange says

    Another thought, slightly off-topic:
    I wonder what percentage of Lotus’ sales presentation attendees are men. And, if having a pretty woman doing the sales pitch makes them more susceptible to this bullshit.
    I guess that’s always been true. Except for me, of course.

  32. whheydt says

    I started wearing glasses at about 7. That changed about 5 years ago when I had cataract surgery. Now I just wear reading glasses for computers (+1.25 diopter) and books (+2.0 diopter). At least the readers are cheap.

  33. submoron says

    Astrolad @ 31. Yes quite right! I checked my copy before posting. OT but I notice that my fellow Britons are increasingly following your American practice in using ‘peek’ instead of ‘peep’ but then they don’t the meaning of ‘refute’ and use it instead of ‘rebut’. Sorry I had to get that gripe out of my system.