10 Ways to Improve Your Long Distance Vision
Here are 10 ways to improve your long distance vision, tried and tested by this former sufferer of nearsightedness. My blurry vision made me dependent on glasses for 15 long years, until my eyesight hit an all-time low and I decided to do something about it. This is what I learned.
The following tips will help improve your long distance vision on multiple levels – both instantaneously (see tip #1 – the pinhole effect) and gradually over time (see tip #10 – eye exercises). All of these have helped me see clearly at times when my nearsightedness was crippling my ability to focus into the far distance.
1. The Pinhole Effect
The pinhole effect allows you to see clearly in the long distance, instantly. It’s a bit of a novelty trick for our purposes but you may find a use for it (for example, if you desperately need to read a sign post and don’t have your glasses). Plus, it teaches one of the fundamental principles of how your eyesight works.
The pinhole effect works by blocking out light rays coming from all different angles, only allowing light rays to enter the eye head-on. This means your inner lens no longer needs to precisely focus and refract light rays to create a clear image – only allow them to fall straight on your retina at the back of your eye.
You can see the pinhole effect for yourself right now:
How To Use The Pinhole Effect to Improve Long Distance Vision
First, remove your glasses. Look into the long distance and try to focus on a specific point – it will be blurry if you have poor long distance vision.
The Pinhole Effect – Before
Now make a tight fist and put it up to one eye, closing the other eye. Open your fist just enough to let the tiniest spot of light enter – a tiny pinhole. The spot you’re looking at is now in sharp focus. That’s the pinhole effect.
To see the contrast, open your fist a little wider and let more light in, and the image will go blurry again. Now tighten it, and the image will become sharper.
The Pinhole Effect – After
Does the pinhole effect actually improve your long distance vision? Yes, but only for very specific scenarios where you need to see clearly with telescopic vision. It’s the healthier equivalent of squinting (which also blocks excess light rays from entering the eye) but without the eye strain or the funny looks from strangers.
However, some natural vision enthusiasts wear pinhole glasses to improve their long distance vision over time. Anecdotal evidence suggests that wearing pinhole glasses for 15 minutes a day could improve your vision overall, because it retrains your eyes to focus clearly together, without overpowering prescription lenses causing eye strain. See my full article on pinhole glasses for more information.
2. Wear Your Glasses Less
Talking of eye strain… Numerous scientific journals have published papers about the impact that wearing glasses has on your natural vision.
Research shows that minus lenses in particular (worn to correct long distance vision) tire out the visual system, causing significant eye strain. This in itself can be a major contributor to blurry vision and further eyesight deterioration.
It’s shocking but true – see for yourself:
“There are frequently ignored patterns of addiction to minus lenses.
The typical prescription tends to overpower and fatigue the visual
system and what is often a transitory condition becomes a lifelong
situation which is likely to deteriorate with time.” S. Gallop (1994), Journal of Behavioral Optometry
“Minus lenses are the most common approach, yet the least likely to
prevent further myopic progression. Unfortunately, they increase
the near point stress that is associated with progression.” B. May (1984), Optometric Extension Program Foundation
“Single-vision minus lenses for full-time use produce accommodative insufficiency associated with additional symptoms until the patient gets used to the lens. This is usually accompanied by a further increase in myopia and the cycle begins anew.” Martin H Birnbaum (1973), Review of Optometry
What does this mean for sufferers of nearsightedness? Wearing your glasses full time is likely to be making your natural vision worse. In order to reverse this trend – or at the very least attempt to halt it – you need to wear your glasses less.
This idea probably makes you panic a little inside. I remember a time when the thought of walking down the street without my glasses on seemed preposterous. I thought I wouldn’t be able to see anything and would be stumbling blindly past waving friends, critical sign posts, and deadly oncoming traffic. Not so.
You’re so used to seeing the world with glasses, in overpowering 20/10 focus, that you completely forgot what it’s like to focus naturally without them. Your eyes have become lazy and the world sure is blurry without glasses. But give them a chance – even just sitting at home watching TV without specs – and you might be pleasantly surprised at how fast your vision can accommodate.
Tiny improvements in your ability focus, even at this early stage in your vision training, strongly suggests you can make further improvements with practice. At the same time, you’ll be relieving your eyes of near-point stress caused by wearing prescription lenses, particularly at times when you don’t even need them.
How to Reduce Your Dependency on Glasses
Start small with situations you’re comfortable in, then expand your horizons. This means removing your glasses for computer work, reading, cooking and other close-up tasks (as long as it’s still safe to do so). This will massively reduce near-point stress, because wearing minus lenses for close-up work is a double whammy in the world of eye strain.
Soon, you can lose your glasses for other situations like gardening or sitting on the beach. Remember to really use your eyes while doing so, as we’ll discover in the next tip for ways to improve your long distance vision.
3. Let There Be Light
The more light that lands on an object, the easier it is to see. So when you step outdoors into direct sunlight, your natural vision can improve dramatically.
Try it next time you’re out in the sun. Remove your glasses or contact lenses (don’t wear any sunglasses either). The first time you do this, allow yourself a decent amount of time to adjust – at least 10-20 minutes, all the while looking around, practicing your close-up, middle distance and long distance vision.
You’ll be surprised by the level of detail you can actually make out when you make the effort to focus naturally. The sunlight can really help define objects in the far distance, giving you surprisingly good vision. This can be a breakthrough moment for anyone who believed they were fully dependent on wearing glasses to see clearly. Things aren’t always as they seem!
Your Distance Vision is Better Outdoors in The Sun
4. Get Your Vitamin D On
While you’re outside soaking up the sunlight, you’ll also be soaking up a good dose of vitamin D – aka The Sunshine Vitamin. This is key to improving your vision because a deficiency of the vitamin has been scientifically linked to macular degeneration in middle-aged subjects.
What’s more, a study published by Arthur Alexander Knapp, MD, found that severe myopia responded to treatment with vitamin D and calcium in more than 50% of subjects.
Incidentally, vitamin D also plays a key role in defending against 17 types of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, chronic pain, and many other common diseases of the Western world.
So, are you getting your vitamin D on?
The average person needs to spend at least 20 minutes in the sun, three times per week, in order to obtain their recommended dose of vitamin D.
Studies show that many people are vitamin D deficient during the winter months, or in places where there is less sunlight in general. You can combat this by taking a daily vitamin D3 supplement (recommended dose: 5,000 IU) or eating vitamin D-rich foods (such as fatty fish and fish liver oils).
5. Actually Use Your Long Distance Vision
Modern living has sparked something of a myopia epidemic. Our children are spending more of their free time indoors watching TV and playing video games than generations of the past, and their long distance vision is suffering.
In China, a massive 76% of lower middle school students are already nearsighted. Education officials now see to it that Chinese students perform eye exercises twice a day in order to tackle the myopia epidemic.
In contrast, countries whose cultures place more emphasis on sports and outdoor living – such as Australia and New Zealand – have among the lowest occurrence of nearsightedness in the world. The solution, then, is to spend more time outdoors and actually using your long distance vision.
Like any muscle – even like your brain – if you stop using your eyes they can become weak. If you’re nearsighted, you probably spend a lot of time indoors performing close-up tasks and your long distance vision has become weak. You can correct this by enjoying the great outdoors more frequently and focusing in the long distance. The next tip will show you how…
6. Trace The Horizon
Tracing is a simple but effective eye exercise to improve your long distance vision while you’re outside. It works by teaching the eyes to flow in easy movements.
If you do a lot of close-up work, your eyes are either fixed in a stare or limited to small areas right in front of your face – both of which increase the tension which leads to further myopia progression. This eye exercise will work your vision as it originally evolved to perform: scanning the horizon for predators and prey.
How To Perform The Tracing Exercise
When you are outside (or looking out a window), remove your glasses or contact lenses and attain the best focus you can into the distance.
Start from your left and trace the horizon with your eyes, moving up and down along the very edge of each object that breaks the horizon. Go slowly and deliberately – there’s no point rushing. When you reach the edge, return from right to left. When you’ve finished, relax your eyes (see tip #6).
The Tracing Eye Exercise for Long Distance Vision
If you’re not blessed with long distance views to gaze at all day, you can perform this eye exercise just about anywhere:
When indoors, look at the furthest point in the room (at least 7 feet away to be classed as long distance vision) and trace around the objects you see – doorframes, pictures and furniture provide good wide outlines.
When in a town or city center, choose a distant building and trace around its edges, then spiral in tracing the windows and doors. Remember to blink normally and relax your facial muscles so you don’t hold any tension.
7. Avoid Computer Vision Syndrome
Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is thought to affect 75% of all computer users and is a major contributor to loss of long distance vision. The symptoms of CVS are:
- Eye strain
- Dry or itchy eyes
- Pain looking out the corner of your eye
- Headaches, neck ache and pain behind your eyes
- Problems shifting focus from the monitor to paperwork
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Difficulty focusing on the screen
- Gradual vision deterioration over time
Are you experiencing any of these symptoms right now? If so, there are a number of ways to protect against Computer Vision Syndrome. These will ultimately prevent computer eye strain and improve your long distance vision.
How to Prevent CVS
- Use eye drops on dry eyes, such as Similasan Computer Eye Relief.
- Blink more to reduce eye irritation (the normal rate is 16-20 blinks per minute; in CVS sufferers it’s 6-8 blinks per minute).
- Give your eyes a break by looking away from the computer monitor every now and then to relieve stress on the ciliary muscles.
- Use proper lighting – don’t strain your eyes on the excessively bright glare of a computer screen. Reduce ambient lighting to lower levels.
- Upgrade your screen to a modern LCD monitor which has an anti-reflective surfaces and higher refresh rate for no flicker.
- Relax with an eye mask after a long day at the computer screen. Therapeutic eye masks can be cooled or heated for fast and effective relief of eye strain, headaches and tension.
8. Avoid Eye Strain
So you know it’s important to relax your eyes often, and especially to prevent the symptoms of Computer Eye Strain if you work long hours at a bright screen.
This next tip to improve your long distance vision is based on avoiding eye strain in general – whether you’re reading a book in low light, sitting hunched up with a stiff neck, or becoming engrossed in a near-point task that’s hurting your vision.
It’s called the 10-10-10 rule – and it’s your new best friend:
The 10-10-10 Rule
Whenever you’re focused on a task within a range of 7 feet or less, follow the 10-10-10 rule. Every 10 minutes, stop what you’re doing, relax your eyes and focus on an object at least 10 feet away for 10 seconds.
It’s simple but effective. This breaks the intense near-point stress building up in your eyes, allowing them to relax and focus on a far-away object. Ten seconds is long enough to allow your eyes to shift and refocus in the long distance.
If you have trouble remembering, stick a note with 10-10-10 on your computer monitor, use it as a bookmark (and place it a few pages ahead of where you’re reading) or have it on all your stationary or textbooks to remind you.
9. Wear Weaker Glasses
Remember earlier when I told you to ditch you glasses for as much as you can bear? Some people have severe myopia that could make this truly difficult, so the solution is to switch down to a weaker pair of glasses. You can also switch down if you find your current glasses very strong or overpowering (which you will come to notice more and more as you improve your long distance vision).
How to Safely Reduce Your Glasses Prescription
Take a look at your latest glasses prescription. If it’s more than a year old, go get an up-to-date eye test by a professional optometrist.
Visit an online retailer such as 39 Dollar Glasses to enter a slightly weaker version of your latest prescription. This will give you a new pair of transition specs that won’t break the bank while you gradually improve your eyesight.
(Alternatively, you can see a behavioral optometrist and ask them to work with you on creating a weaker glasses prescription. However their frames and lenses won’t necessarily be so cheap.)
To calculate your weaker prescription, reduce each eye by 0.50 diopters. (Most people have one eye stronger than the other, so don’t expect these values to match.) If you have astigmatism, ignore any correction up to 1.00 diopter, and undercorrect any larger amounts by roughly one-third.
Enter all the other details like pupillary distance exactly the same as they appear on your latest prescription. If you get confused by all the codes and symbols, see my article on How to Read Your Glasses Prescription.
Check the severity of your myopia based on your existing lens correction. If you have weak (-1.00 to -3.00 diopters) or moderate (-3.00 to -6.00 diopters) correction, your goal is to stop wearing glasses as much as possible, and resort to your weaker glasses only when you really need them.
If you have strong correction (-6.00 and beyond) it’s ok to be more reliant on your weaker glasses. This is still much better than wearing full-strength glasses.
For safety reasons, you must wear your full strength glasses during dangerous activities like driving, no matter what your starting prescription.
The most powerful of the 10 ways to improve your long distance vision is to take an eye exercise course.
This involves daily practice of specific eye exercises designed to improve your nearsightedness and astigmatism (the latter is a common side-effect of the former, and makes your vision that much worse).
Check out my review of Rebuild Your Vision, one of the most popular eye exercise courses on the net, for more information.