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Eye Health Center

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Natural Vision Correction: Beyond the Hope & Hype

By John Donovan
WebMD Feature

For many people, the idea that you can correct your vision naturally -- without glasses, contact lenses, drugs, or lasers -- is more than a notion. It’s a long-held hope. A lifelong dream.

It’s also a hot topic for eye doctors.

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Natural vision correction is the belief that you can improve your vision with eye exercises, relaxation tips, and an eye massage every now and then. Some people say it works. Others say it’s nonsense.

There's no proof the technique works, only wishful thinking, says Michael Repka, a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology agrees. In a 2013 report, the organization said natural vision correction doesn’t help myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), or other vision problems caused by disease.

The American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus also found no evidence that vision therapy corrects myopia or keeps it from getting worse. Still, some people insist it works.

Who Might It Help?

Leonard Press is an optometrist at the Vision and Learning Center in Fair Lawn, N.J. He practices visual therapy. It’s a kind of physical therapy for your eyes and brain. The goal is to develop, heal, or improve how you see. Vision therapy can help certain conditions other than myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.

Experts believe it may fix convergence insufficiency, for instance. That’s when the eyes have a hard time coming together to focus on an object that’s brought closer. It can cause eye strain, double vision, and other problems.

But doctors differ on whether visual therapy can fix other eye issues.

Some people have blurry vision because “their focusing system is focusing too hard," Press says. Natural vision exercises that tackle the cause of the problem "can make you less dependent on glasses,” he says, but it helps only “the minority of patients.”

Glasses or No Glasses? The Bottom Line

In 1920, a doctor named William Bates wrote a book called Perfect Sight Without Glasses. In it he questioned whether glasses were the only way to fix a person’s vision. He decided they weren’t and created The Bates Method. It’s a way for people to improve their sight without glasses that’s still used today. But not all eye doctors are sold on the idea.

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