what if i can’t be the nerd anymore?

Posted on March 18th, 2011

Since I was four I’ve worn glasses. Before hipsters wore glasses, being a four-eyes wasn’t cool. It wasn’t like wearing braces. You were ostracized not so much for having a defect but for looking bookish and – god forbid – intelligent. At my bogan school it was rad to be slightly dim.

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I think I became a nerd from wearing glasses. I was never bookish, but spent a lot of time on my own in the library. It meant I had plenty of time for homework. Glasses also force a certain aesthetic upon you – a slightly awkward, intense, reflective one. I’ve worn it as a guise ever since.

But yesterday I was told I didn’t need glasses. I’m affronted. Threatened. I already feel naked. My ego is attached to being different via my glasses, bold enough to wear them, not-caring-enough about what others think. I wear big, brash glasses, unapologetically. This has become my stamp.

But when German vision trainer Leo Angart visited me he took one look at my eyes and told me glasses were not required. He identified my eye issues in one glance and said  that he could fix them with simple muscular exercises in….weeks, if not days!

I’m a four-eyes because I have:

* strabismus – where the muscles in my left eye are weaker, making it turn out slightly…which is why I wore an eyepatch over my right eye when I was 11-13 years old – to strengthen the left. Strabismus affects 6-8% of us and it’s detected when we’re three. Leo reckons when undetected and untreated it accounts for a lot of dyslexia and ADD.

* near sightededness – which is why I wear glasses lenses. But Leo claims mine is so weak glasses are not required.

* astigmatism – it’s like having a stiff shoulder in my eye, which distorts the lens and makes it feel like I have a cloudy film over one eye.

All of which sounds highly dysfunctional. Except that Leo says each problem is extremely mild and should have been treated with exercises years ago.

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But cop this: He reckons all the issues have become a problem because I’ve worn specs for so long. Consider this: more people – esp kids – are needing glasses because we’ve trained our eyes to look at things within a metre for long periods, aka computer screens. But our eyes were designed to look to the distance – for prey, danger, food. And to move around a lot. So we’ve done to our eyes what a plaster cast does to a leg – weakens all the muscles so that you have to keep wearing the cast to stand upright…or build strength again via physio.

My glasses have acted like a computer screen or a cast. They’ve made everything flaccid and reliant.

Leo’s given me a bunch of the weirdest eye training exercises – that use a piece of string and some patterned pictures – and reckons with 90% certainty I can toss my frames. Today.

* he also suggests having walnut oil for anyone who gets dry eyes. Four tablespoons in salad etc. per day.

* when eyes get tired, press the points on the inside of the eye bone. Often the meridian is blocked and this refreshes things. He reckons that will alleviate the astigmatism.

* every 20 minutes look up from a screen for 20 seconds. We forget to blink when looking at a screen. This isn’t good. The Pomodoro Technique’s focusbooster might be good for this?

If you want to know more, Leo’s running courses from Saturday in Sydney, then Melbourne and Perth.

I’ll report back on how I go….although I’m already feeling very, very naked!

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  • Heather

    Sarah, do you think that even if your eye problems become ‘fixed’ you will ditch the glasses? I am also a proud glasses wearer since a young age and I quite like wearing them. They become part of your self-identity!

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  • Sarah Wilson

    I know… I’m not sure…I’m struggling with the idea..

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  • Jen

    I’m a believer – I used the string as a teen and the glasses were gone…got lazy when I entered the workforce and spent too long in front of the screen. I worked on the eyes again glasses gone again. My country NSW eye doctor knew of this in the early 80′s….. I’m sure he wasn’t called a “vision trainer” but if that what it takes to get healthy eye sight to as many people as possible, I’m all for it.

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    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Wow. Very encouraging.

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  • Amy

    Sarah, the sentance ‘At my bogan school it was rad to be slightly dim’ made me laugh out loud in the middle of my office! Love it. You’ve summarised my school years perfectly.

    Thanks for the laugh on an otherwise gloomy Friday morning!!

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  • MsBananaPeel

    Do you agree with this guy that emotions cause bad eyesight? Is there a reason you didn’t mention that side of his theories?

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    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Hmmm, didn’t discuss that side of things with him. I wouldn’t dismiss the idea. Emotions are just extensions of the physiological side of us, and vice versa. I’m open to it.

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  • http://canwedoityepwecan.blogspot.com/ Mel

    I was told I had to wear glasses for driving/long distance at about 17, within a few months my sight had got worse, so I binned them, and now, 10+ years later I still don’t need or wear them! Interesting Leo thinks that glasses can make your sight worse, the doc I saw back when I binned mine wouldn’t hear of it, but I was determined I was right :)

    Be brave go specs free :)

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  • Ian

    Sarah, once your eyes are fixed why not get clear lenses? No one needs to know except your 100K blog readers? Ha!

    It’s so true how reliant we become on our glasses. I’ve recently got them for reading (getting old!) but now find I’m overly dependent on them because I’ve stopped working the muscles. Now where can I find some string?

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  • Mia

    I always really resented having perfect eyesight. Glasses look so stylish and sexy, I always found them so attractive. It’s funny the things that we are envious of in other people – while I am sure my sister would have killed for my perfect sight, I was envious of her glasses!!

    Dont worry Sarah, if I can be nerdy as hell without glasses all my life, I am sure you can manage it. The geeks shall inherit the earth after all. :)

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  • http://www.aliveandwell.co Nichola

    Tis true – he’s right! You can be glasses free. I was told I needed glasses in my teens, but decided to go the eye exercise route instead and whamo problem gone. That’s 20 years ago. Still don’t need glasses.

    I have a friend in Mullumbimby who is gradually reducing her dependence on glasses. She’s worn them since she was 10 and they have fairly decent prescriptions. However, she’s lost over 1 point of prescription in each eye over the last 9 months. She’s going for 20/20 vision.

    Go Sarah – you can do it! And Ian’s right – you can absolutely keep wearing the frames with clear lenses, if you want. xo

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    Liz Reply:

    Hi Nichola, what exercises does your friend do?
    PS. My daughter’s name is Nichola – same spelling!

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    Nichola Reply:

    I’ll email her now and find out exactly what she’s doing.

    In the mean time, Don Tolman (self-care guru) has recommendations for improving eye sight. He suggests setting up a rope or string with markers at even spaces along it. Depending on your problem, you can use a long rope with markers spaced about a foot apart, or a string with markers spaced about 10cm apart. Hold the rope or string up to your nose (you’ll need to tie the other end somewhere to secure it). The aim is to look at the marker furthest away, focus on it properly for 10 seconds, then move in to the next one, focus on that properly for 10 seconds, etc until you reach the one closest to your nose. As you get closer to your nose, it might get hazy, that’s OK, keep trying to focus. Or you might be hazy at the one furthest away, that’s cool too. Just keep trying. If your eyes start feeling strained or tired, stop, gentle enhancement is always the way to go! Gradually you’ll notice the improvement, eg you can clearly see a previously hazy marker better. These were the sorts of exercises I did a couple of decades ago to improve the problem I had back then.

    Don also suggests sunlight (without sunglasses on!) and eating apricots – see here: http://dontolmanusa.com/disease/health-benefits-apricots/ Food can be a very powerful medicine.

    Great name you chose for your daughter! I have met one other person in the world with the same spelling, but she lives in England.

    Will get back to you with more on my friend’s methods. Probably also good to do a google for holistic eye doctor (or something similar).

    Hope helpful. xo

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    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Thanks Nichola! Very generous. Also, Leo’s got a book out with details of the string thing and other techniques .http://www.vision-training.com/en/Books/index.htm

    Nichola Reply:

    Hi Liz,
    That’s my friend’s comment down towards the bottom – look for “Ange”. Her comment starts with “Hello, I just wanted to add….”
    Some useful tips there!
    Nichola xo

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  • http://adamcordner.com Adam Cordner

    Don’t stop being a nerd! It will require a lobotomy, not good eyesight to escape nerdhood.

    OK, so you knew I was going to have something to say about this post.

    Firstly, I wear glasses and I think the tips on improving eyesight are great and I’m going to try them.

    But let’s talk about nerds.

    I’m a nerd, my nerdiness precedes my ocular dysfunction from an early age, but I never thought I was a nerd, I was labeled that. I didn’t start wearing glasses until I was in my mid twenties.

    So my question is, who says nerds wear glasses and define nerd?

    It’s going to come as a surprise, but this is going to a serious rant from me.

    I was labeled a nerd for some of the following reasons

    • I was into dungeons and dragons
    • I had all the Star Wars toys (still have a lightsabre)
    • I was reading books on quantum physics while other kids where struggling to read
    • My focus through school was how to make a hover board (I did make a prototype, but it requires a huge magnetic skate park and I couldn’t get funding from Mum)
    • I built an engine that ran on vegetable oil
    • I’m half Asian

    I did all of the above before I left high school, so most of the so called cool kids (boys with popped collars and boat-shoes mainly) bullied me and teased me for reading, making models and dominating at computer games.

    Now, all my so called nerdiness has been applied to my profession and it’s because of my profession (IT) that I work so damn long in front or a computer I’ve ruined my eyes. I wear think frames because if a break-dance-battle should start I won’t have time to put my contacts in so I need sturdy glasses.

    Let me be clear, it’s not how you look that defines you as a Nerd,

    My definition of a Nerd is:

    “An individual committed to lifestyle of being true to what they’re passionate about with no compromise, an individual who possesses a disregards for status quo to pursue all things Awesome.”

    Its not how you look that makes you a nerd, its how you see the world that make you one.

    (I know this was about eyesight :) )

    [Reply]

    Belle Reply:

    I’m laughing too much at the “• My focus through school was how to make a hover board (I did make a prototype, but it requires a huge magnetic skate park and I couldn’t get funding from Mum)” line to take in the rest of your post!

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    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Awesome Adam! I”m not half Asian but I did invent a device for watering pot plants while one is on holidays.

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    Lauren Reply:

    A device to water pot plants????!!!! Have you blogged about this already? I need to know! Wow I can’t contani my excitement!

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    Adam Cordner Reply:

    How on earth did you create a neighbor? Cloning, cyborg, tell me!

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    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Adam, didn’t you go to school in Canberra, too? You’d know about LEAP, then?

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    Adam Cordner Reply:

    Shhhhhhh, I’m getting teased enough as it is, then you go and mention Canberra.

    I did go to school in Canberra, I actually moved high schools because of the bullying and went to Telopea in which was a great move. I lived in Lyneham and went through a series of tests for LEAP (Lyneham Enriched Academic Program) and got in, but there had been so much disruption in my education already and I was happy at Telopea so I stayed. (plus, Telopea had a mini ramp).

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    Lisa Reply:

    Adam, you’ve got a great sense of humour, so who cares if you’res a nerd ? I too used to play dungeons and dragons, now I play mindless games on Facebook ! By the way, are you single ? and do you want to shift to NZ ? It’s true I live in Christchurch and our city is munted now after the recent earthquakes, but hey, we could do with some more Aussies, particularly ones with a sense of humour ;-)

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    Adam Cordner Reply:

    Hi Lisa

    Munted is one of the best words ever, I get an image of a piñata after the festivities, by the way, do not go to fancy dress parties dressed as a piñata if there are kids around. I’m not single (if by that you meant in a relationship) I have an amazing partner who offsets my nerdiness. Thank you for your invitation though.

    Idea! How about dungeons and dragons for Facebook? Actually I baggsies that and copywrite it

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    Lisa Reply:

    Hi Adam

    Thanks for the tip about dressing for fancy dress parties, I’ll bear that in mind, and pass it around to friends to be safe :-)

    Shame about your relationship status. Well, not a shame for your partner or you !

    Looking forward to your D&D game on Facebook. You’d have to design it, as my computer skills could not manage anything so awesome. However, am happy to spell check and/or type complex game instructions as required. Have superior spell check and typing skills.

    Checked out your blog and will peruse in depth when I get the time. As soon as I saw Wayne and Garth I knew it would be a winner.

    Also, should mention, am not a stalker, so no need to panic and install anti-stalking software etc. Just enjoy a good laugh and a great read.

    Cheers (with a non-fructose-containing-alcoholic-beverage of course !) and keep that evil fructose at bay.

    Lisa Reply:

    Re: previous comment,

    That should read “you’re” not “you’res”. (I’m a Librarian, so I’m programmed to abhor spelling errors and typos !)

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  • http://canwedoityepwecan.blogspot.com/ Mel

    Only a nerd would put War & Peace into blog comment form :) (kidding, rolled gold comment!)

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  • Karen

    Sarah, you have always gone on about how glasses are part of who you are blah, blah, blahs, so why even look down this path?

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    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Exactly what I’m debating.

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  • http://twitter.com/mikemallory mike

    eyebone? gonna need some more explanation on that one— ;)

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    bone around eye socket!

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  • Bella

    Hey Sarah,

    Yep! your eye thing is pretty much what has happened to me – including the right eye pirate patch – was so devo as a little girl cause of this…………..However, my left eye still does this crazy thing where it doesn’t turn outward like yours but inwards (kinda my party trick everyone loves but me!) so wondering if that’s still the same thing as yours but just in a different direction?? I thinkin’ this muscle training thing might be worth a go – as my eyes (have contacts) are going up and up in prescription. Hoping you might point me in the right direction…..am I searching for a vision traineror is there certain exercises with this string I meant to be doing, but guess it might be different if my eye goes in not out???????? x

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  • vfelly

    Cool, I was looking for this last week, amazing what happens when you ‘ask’! I wish I knew of this when I was in high school, even then, I believed it to be true. Ironically, took off my glasses to try and read this post…nothing, I see nothing! I am having trouble finding an example of the exercises etc, any ideas?

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  • http://www.centralcoastseachange.com Tracey

    I’ve worn glasses since I was 18 and I never considered myself a nerd – still don’t. It’s a bit of a yawn if anyone does consider people who wear glasses ‘nerdy’. Anyway, glad to hear that you might have to give them a toss…let’s see how you go. I’d love to be able to get rid of mine, without the need for laser surgery.

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  • http://www.nolonger.com Jade @ No Longer 25

    I have pretty much all the same stuff as you and I wore the eye patch when I was at primary school – so cool.

    I’ve stopped wearing glasses gradually over the last couple of years since I discovered I could see better without them apart from when I was tired then over time even when I was tired it was better without.

    The excersises sounds interesting, would be good to find someone like that in the UK.
    Thanks for sharing, I look forward to hearing how you get on.
    Jade

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  • http://www.naturallycarol.blogspot.com Naturally Carol

    I’ve never heard of a Vision Trainer before! Do you trust him? Did you do the exercises and find your vision has improved? Interesting.

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  • http://tinytearoom.com tinytearoom

    oh my goodness. you have given me hope with this post. first of all I have severe astigmatism and have been wearing thick expensive glasses since I was 10. I have been told I cannot have laser surgery and glasses and me will be best-friends for life. I would really love to talk to Leo about my condition.

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  • Ange

    Hello
    I just wanted to add my experience with shedding my glasses. I started this a few years ago with the amazing discovery of Bates’ eye healing exercises on the http://www.wddty.com (“What the doctors don’t tell you” is a great British website that 2 amazing Australian doctors referred me to). I went to an optometrist Jenny Livanos in Sydney (http://naturaleyecare.com.au/) who understands about nutrition and healing eyes (she used to be a nutritionist as I recall). My original scrip was -2.75 and -3.75.

    Anyway, after being encouraged by Jenny to “embrace the blurr” I embarked on my quest to recover my eyesight, which was not so good but deteriorated significantly after each of my three babies. My personal opinion is that the deterioration was due to nutrient deficiency and eating a lot of processed foods esp. refined sugar – I was a sugar maniac.

    So I went back recently, not having done the exercises she gave me at all, but knowing that my eyes had improved because my glasses were really uncomfortable for me to wear anymore. My suspicions were right – in the 18 months of not wearing my glasses (unless I was driving or watching TV (which was hardly ever)), I discovered my scrip had reduced by .75 IN BOTH EYES!!! Jenny wasn’t surprised. During this period I seriously changed my diet to largely non- processed and mostly organic wholefoods, used nutritional supplements and completely omitted refined sugar, wheat and cow’s dairy (which was a part of healing our family from various conditions including chronic fatigue and ASD). So it’s hard to say what was the MAIN cause of the healing, I guess one of those things where doing many supportive things at once creates a certain synergy. I was so thrilled by this improvement I had my scrip reduced and I have now dragged out the eye exercises (which aren’t at all onerous) and have also added blinking Francinsnence essential oil each day too. An Ayervurdic practitioner told me it helps to take care of our eyes as we age though I don’t really know how (it’s also very invigorating) – I recommend choosing a high quality one like Young Living. The other thing I do is wear “pinhole” glasses while I watch TV. They look a bit like sunnies, but are black plastic with lots of pinholes in them. Apparently they encourage your eyes to keep working to put the image together rather than locking them into a single state like regular glasses do.
    I went back to my regular optometrist and mentioned that I was planning to improve my eyes by not wearing my glasses. He thought I was a bit nutty I think and didn’t really want to know. Also, told me all the reasons why losing your eyesight was inevitable with old age.

    I guess there’s more money to be made prescribing and selling glasses (the styles of which change with the seasons!) than there is in teaching the people who do have healable eye problems to do some simple eye exercises.

    Another healing modality for those with eye issues I can recommend is the HANDLE Approach (www.handle.org). There are simple exercises you can do using the HANDLE approach which I know strengthen eye muscles, promote development of binocular function as well as help work on common problems such as crossing eyes, weak convergence (the opposite of cross eyes), light sensitivity, amblyopia. Well worth a look before you get your child glasses. I have helped all my children do HANDLE programs over the past 18 months with great results. HANDLE has helped them all in various ways, eg to read without tiring, teaching their eyes able to converge so that they can see balls coming at them so they can now happily join into ball games like soccer and handball and catching games because their eyes are now working together to name a few.

    If you are worried about your child’s ability to learn or get on at school in any way, I recommend looking to identify the root of their difficulties arse whether it be their in the way their eyes work and/or other possible sensory issues before just treating the symptoms with glasses or extra tutoring. Check out the HANDLE Approach – it and it’s practitioners here in Australia are world class.

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    Katherine Boicos Reply:

    it is common for a person who has been myopic through the teens and twenties, to have what is called a latent hyperopic shift from mid thirties onwards, and this could account for your 0.75 reduction in myopia. I’m assuming your age, given that you said you’ve had a few babies. We measure this in practise all the time. I’m myopic (-3.50) and have yet to embark on a holistic methodology of healing the blur, but perhaps with a good diet, some reiki on the eyes, and affirmations, i might be able to do so. In practise it seems like people aren’t reallyt willing to do the measures to prevent myopia in the first place (ie. avoid excessive reading, get natural sunlight especially in the under-10 age range, avoid computers, schooling, study etc) and then go into jobs which entail them to be indoors, away from natural light (therefore linking to vitamin D deficiency in general) and using alot of screen based media. So it’s difficult, I find that patients usually want a quick fix, it’s the way society has been conditioned from “modern” medicine recommendations. I see so many people who have high blood pressure, are happy to just take a pill for it (with side effects that are possibly harmful) but do nothing to shift the excess 20 kg they are carrying, and continue to eat processed food, not drink enough water, stay on the alcohol, salty fast food etc. Good luck with the healing. Anything that works right? Apparently some of the mainstays of the Bates natural improvement method are sunning and palming, this ties into the healing effects of natural sunlight (probably upon our hormonal expression of eye growth regulation) and having the hands on the eyes sounds alot like harnessing our own healing potential from universal energy transferred through our hand chakras (ie. reiki type modalities of healing).
    And of course most optometrists will not have much of a positive opinion on this, they are not trained in holistic measures, and most would not have attempted them anyway, so you really cant expect too much help on an alternative way of things. Just like most things health related, we either have to avoid the circumstances that lead to the problem, or take our health into our own hands once we have the problem. Interesting fact on myopia though: Taiwan, city life, highly schooled from a young age, live in small apartments, little natural light exposure, little viewing of the horizon = very high rates of myopia in the population (like 80% ish), across the border, rural China, peasant lifestyle….extremely low rates. So there is a combination of genetic factors, but lifestyle factors that most likely lead to an increased expression of the underlying genetic predisposition. Watch for myopia rates to soar…all I see if little kids with their faces 40 cm from screen media these days.

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  • http://www.FoxInFlats.com.au Andrea

    OMG I would be a bit perturbed too if I was told I didn’t NEED to wear glasses anymore. Mine make me look approximately 71% smarter, which can come in handy when doing a presentation. Also, they are a great fashion accessory…

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  • Optom

    Sarah I think you should consult a trained optometrist before ditching your glasses forever. Yes there could be exercises which help your condition. Optometry is a medical profession based on evidence based medicine. i.e. there is many research to support what we advise. I would thoroughly recommend you seek there advice to answer all your questions.

    A lot of people have serious eye problems who will read this and think they too can be free from glasses. I think that is very misleading and I don’t what the public to believe their glasses are making their eyes become worse. For example, Presbyopia (condition of the lens losing its ability to focus up close later in life) is a progressive problem. You will need your glasses more so because of the declining of focus ability that occurs with age. It will get worse regardless of how much you use your glasses.

    If you have any questions about your eyes and if your wondering if exercises can help your condition, please see your optometrist who can answer all your questions. They can also advise you of nutritional information for your eyes (for example Flaxseed oil and Fish oils are actually very good for dry eye).

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  • Ellie

    Hey, I’m only 16 and I prize myself on my nerdy glasses and my reclusive appearance. I have the exact same issue as what you have, or, well “have.”
    I actually just noticed i even have the same glasses as you, which i think is pretty damn awesome.
    If you want to continue on wearing glasses but not longer need them, why don’t you just get plain glass placed into the frames? :)

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    Ellie Reply:

    “Had”*

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  • jac

    Sarah – I have come back to this post just today after remembering it mid sobbing-rant to my boyfriend. I had 20/20 vision until just 3 years ago, and am convinced that the original decline was environmental (ie starting full time work on computers). My eyesight has since steadily deteriorated, and again, I’m sure its from wearing glasses. I now legally can’t drive without them, and have just gotten contact lenses so I can see my friends when I go out. My optometrist “assures” me there’s nothing I can do to halt/reverse the flow, but I don’t buy it.

    So my question to you is……. 3 months on….. DID IT WORK?????????????????

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  • Kristy

    Hi Sarah, I’m keen for a follow up on this one too as to whether it worked for you?

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  • http://innerbeam.com Sarah Rose

    Me too, I want to know, have you been able to ditch your glasses? I was diagnosed with ‘students myopia’ in my first year of Uni and started to wear glasses to see the screen in lectures and road signs when driving. I’d love to let go of the expense of glasses..and how annoying it is when I forget them and can’t read the specials board in the restaurant. Quite clearly my issue came from too much study ;-)

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  • Kellie

    Hi Sarah,
    Just reading through some older articles and stumbled upon this. How did this go for you? Did it reduce your dependency on glasses?

    I’m pretty miserable by the fact I feel my eyes get progressively worse each year.

    Thanks :)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/totalvitalitytv Julia Achilleos

    :) Hi Sarah!
    Please update us with any progress with this. I’m considering laser for my short-sightedness and always looking for natural ways. If this works, it’d be most helpful :)
    Anyone got any awesome results in the past year?

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  • http://. Declan Brookman

    I’m not sure exactly why but this blog is loading extremely slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a issue on my end? I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.Katy Roofing Contractor, 831 Comstock Springs Drive, #A, Katy, TX 77450 – (281) 829-8297

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