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Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Natural Vision Improvement
Is "natural vision improvement", under a method by Janet Goodrich, a valid approach to treating myopia in children? My children have been prescribed corrective lenses for myopia and my spouse wishes to treat them with this alternative method.
You have asked an excellent question that cannot be answered easily.
There are multiple websites available such as the "natural vision improvement" site that offer alternative methods to treat myopia. After reviewing the website I can assure you that many of the claims made by Ms. Goodrich are unsubstantiated. She makes the claim that tension in the muscles of the eye are too tight and therefore restrict saccades (or fast eye movements) this most likely has no effect at all on causing myopia.
She is not describing the appropriate muscle of the eye. Recent research has suggested that the ciliary muscle (muscle in the eye itself) may be larger and "tighter" in myopic individuals and therefore may cause the eye to lengthen more than becoming more round. By becoming longer, the eye becomes more near-sighted or myopic. At this time researchers are unsure as to the effect of the larger muscle and do not have a known way to decrease the size of this muscle.
She also makes the claim that going to school or doing near work will cause "school myopia." Many people do believe that near work may help contribute to myopia, but studies have shown little if no correlation at all. What has been shown is that spending time outdoors seems to have a protective effect and this may be related to vitamin D (studies are just starting to look at this).
Goodrich also makes the following claim, "It is hard to credit hereditary factors as being a true cause when the consistency of whom in families has refractive errors and who has perfect eyesight does not seem to bear this out." Research has shown that one near-sighted parent increases a child's odds of myopia by 2.05 while two myopic parents increases the odds to 4.92. So clearly genetics has a role.
Her comments on personality traits of myopic individuals are simply raw generalities with virtually no supporting evidence.
Her suggested management with pinhole glasses is legitimate in that it will provide a clear image on the retina, however these pinholes will not do anything to reduce the myopia or prevent progression. They would actually be dangerous to wear, as your field of view (what you can see to the sides) is essentially non-existent. You 100% could not wear pinholes to drive. In order to have an unrestricted drivers license in the State of Ohio you need to have 20/40 vision or better. If your vision is reduced and it is due to refractive error (myopia for example) you need corrective lenses.
She suggests the individuals to get transition glasses (weaker glasses that will allow for improvement of myopia). Wearing a pair of weaker glasses simply puts whatever you are looking at, out of focus. This will not help to reduce myopia.
With 100% certainty there are no valid studies that show improvement in myopia. Also there is no evidence that by wearing corrective lenses will worsen the myopia. As kids grow, they will most likely trend to be more nearsighted, and this typically tapers down in their early 20's.
There is some evidence that certain contact lenses can reduce the rate of myopia, however the rate of reduction is very low.
If there were valid ways to improve myopia or prevent myopia, eye doctors, would certainly be using them. Unfortunately at this time vision researchers are still searching for these answers.
Spectacle wear or contact lenses will provide clear images for your children and allow them to visually perform their best.
Aaron Zimmerman, OD, MS
Clinical Associate Professor of Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University