Active focus is the center piece of all vision improvement.
While we need all the other things we discuss here, such as correct diopters, taking breaks from looking-up close, keeping proper distance, and the many smaller facets, pushing focus is the part that puts everything else together.
If you follow the Adult Vision Improvement Program, you already know a lot about this. Pushing focus changes the whole paradigm of how your child perceives his/her vision. Instead of passively accepting whatever sharpness arrives, complaining about blur, looking for crutches to ‘make good eyesight happen’, it demonstrates how we can take charge of our vision. This is no far flung philosophical concept. This is, rather, because a very large part of what makes focus, is determined by – a muscle.
We all know that muscles become stronger or weaker, depending almost solely on how we use them. In some cases, there are muscles we were not even aware of, until we needed them for something. Like winking, or flaring ones nostrils. Eyes are precisely the same – you can actively control the focusing (which you often find me referring to as active focus). Discovering that ability, and harnessing its power, is what this installment is all about.
This does not, of course, happen immediately or overnight. Much as when you didn’t know how to flare your nostrils, it feels impossible to send the right command. The connection between brain and body hasn’t been defined, and you may look on confused, as others are flaring like it’s the simplest thing in the world.
Since there is no direct emotion to convey to tell you “here is how you find the nostril muscle”, we will use than exercise, that eventually will create active focus for your child.
Part one of this, is knowing that there is a muscle there. So that the child understands the goal.
The second part is, to not create pressure. This is a game. We expect that this could take a week, or a month. We want to create zero frustration while allowing the child to discover his/her ability to control ciliary muscle movement. It comes, as so many things do, after trying resolutely for some time, and then eventually just stopping to try – and suddenly, there it is.
Once your child has found active focus, the risk of increasing myopia just decreased by half.
Knowing active focus, means a much reduced need for vision correction through glasses. When things become blurry, instead of being frustrated, coming home saying “we need to go to the glasses place, mom”, your child can summon focus, and get clarity. The very act of doing this relaxes the ciliary muscle, thereby preventing the development of ciliary myopia. It also, longer term, reverses axial myopia, since it creates the opposite stimulus that close-up focus did. While staring at a page or screen up-close for hours created ciliary strain, which in turn creates axial elongation of the eyeball to reduce that ciliary strain, all active focus work does the inverse, thereby reducing myopia.
All of this is much different than ‘eye exercises’ that you may have read about elsewhere. They are for the most part parlor tricks, with little long term benefit (and the reason, that many people think reversing myopia is not possible).
Of course, by reducing strain and creating positive stimulus through active focus, you can and will reduce and reverse your child’s myopia.
To accomplish all of this, we need – prescription glasses.
Unlike the prescription glasses you new before, we will use these to put the child’s vision at the edge of blur. This means, that we adjust the prescription strength to allow the child to see clearly, but in the specific distances that are applicable for the activity. This may be as many as two prescriptions, depending on your child’s vision, and how much we want to push for eyesight improvement.
If your child is just at -1D, we may just use one prescription – for close-up focus work.
But then, if your child is at -3D, we will need a close-up prescription, and one for distance. Both prescriptions will allow the child to see clearly, but establish a boundary where things become blurred. This allows the child to practice active focus, and to push focus beyond the boundary of blur. As the child succeeds in expanding the constraints of those glasses, we will continue to change the prescriptions to re-introduce the same boundaries. It’s much like lifting weights in a gym – once our muscles are strong enough for a set of weights, we must increase them to continue to get results.
Unlike the adult program, we must do this in a very relaxed and playful manner. Remember, we have a lot of time, for the child to reverse myopia. Our first goal is just to stop the progression, for which you are almost at the point of having all the tools. Once the worsening of the child’s eye is stopped, the rest of the work, reversing the symptom, can (and should) be done at a fun, leasurly pace.
So far, you should already have the close-up glasses (differential prescription), as described in the previous installment.
You also already should have practice centimeter measurement with your child, which introduced the boundary of clear vision, the edge of blur, to your child. So at this juncture we have all the ingredients to get started with the core exercise for active focus, which is – pushing focus.
Next up, we will start looking at ways to do this, while maintaining the requirement for being fun and relaxed. We will also start looking at some practical ergonomic requirements, to avoid the child creeping closer and closer to the screen.
What can you do today?
If you played the game with the lego toys, for establishing the edge of blur, let’s do that again – this time with and without the glasses. Let’s compare the centimeter results, with the child. You want to show him/her how the distance changes, and by how much. Depending on the child’s age you can use the numbers, or some less abstract reference. Write the numbers down, somewhere visible and easy to be seen as a reminder for the child (and yourself). Posting them on the fridge, seems to be a popular choice among my clients.
We want this distance to become something that the family knows, because it is this distance that we will want to continue to increase.
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