After Lasik: Avoiding Reading Glasses

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Originally appeared in
Earth Star Magazine August/September 2008
By Rosemary Gaddum Gordon, D.B.O., M.A.

Lasik is a surgical procedure for the eyes that changes the shape of the cornea allowing the patient to see more clearly without glasses or contact lenses. More and more people are choosing to have this surgery and many are delighted with the results. You can find out about the pros and cons on the web.

One thing that Lasik does not correct is presbyopia, the reduction in ability to see up close as we age. Most eye professionals think it is impossible to prevent or reverse this deterioration, so they prescribe reading glasses. This means that most people who get Lasik end up in glasses anyway. However, just as other muscles weaken as we get older and can be strengthened, so can the muscles of the eyes.

The muscles that allow us to focus at different distances have to work harder the closer and smaller the object is to us. When they are strained they lose their flexibility and strength and near vision deteriorates. The common reasons for straining these muscles are over-use or mental stress. Often there is a combination of the two. The reason why it tends to happen as we age is, I believe, similar to why our bodies break down in other areas, there are not enough nutrients reaching the tissues.

If we care for these muscles we can prevent or reduce our dependence on glasses. This involves giving them the rest and exercise they need, as well as eating well and doing activities that promote good circulation. Here are a few of the things you can do:

Rest your eyes by palming. Support your elbows and cover your closed eyes with the palms of your hands so you are blocking out the light and not touching your eyes. Find something to gently rest your mind on. For some of us the blackness caused by the palming is enough, for others it is best to imagine or remember being in a beautiful place. Actually pretend you are there, seeing the beauty, hearing the sounds, feeling the air and the delight. Palm until your whole being feels rested.

To increase or maintain the flexibility of you eye muscles change your focal distance often. When you are driving, you can briefly focus on the dashboard or the steering wheel every five minutes. When you are working on the computer or reading, focus twenty or more feet away every five minutes. You don’t have to look very long, just long enough to focus your mind there, so that your eyes will focus too; five seconds is often sufficient. If you notice that your eyes are tired or the focusing is sluggish, give yourself, your eyes longer. If you blink your eyes will change focus more quickly and easily.

One way to build stamina for reading and near work is to practice convergence or crossing the eyes. This was described in a previous issue.
Lasik surgery should not effect the eye muscles, so avoid reading glasses and preserve your good near vision. Of course, if you haven’t had the surgery, these techniques will also help you to avoid them.

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