I’m finally using the Snellen chart correctly

I have been pretty busy with school lately, so I haven’t had the time to write on my blog as much as I would like.  In this post I want to describe new ideas/observations I’ve noticed.

The major thing I’ve been making more of a habit lately is using my Snellen chart once or twice a day.  I try to use it for 15-30 minutes at a time depending on my motivation.  After all these months of improving my vision, I am finally able to use the chart in the correct manner  the majority of the time.  The chart is now just a special object, but not a test, for my eyes to look upon.  What makes the chart special in comparison to other objects I see throughout the day is that I know what the letters should look like when they are clear and there are a variety of sizes and locations for the letters.  When I use the chart now, I am able to notice when a technique or action causes my vision to become sharper.  From this information, I am able to practice the most effective techniques for my eyesight.  While the chart is good for practicing vision activities, it is also good (indirectly) for pointing out the causes of one’s mental strain (which is causing the poor vision).

This takes some knowledge and experience, but one can tell which vision habits are lacking in order to allow clear vision.  For me, I know that my main flaw is not shifting in small enough increments.  A secondary cause of strain is not noticing the periphery as I look at the center of my visual field.  I can tell this as the activities that benefit my vision the most are conscious shifting about a very small imagined object (from memory) or period and long swings.  These activities require the use of central fixation and using the entire visual field.  When these two are combined, my vision is usually the clearest.

Based on the above information, I now understand why palming is usually not too effective at clearing up my vision- my cause of mental strain is not physical stress.  If I just needed to relax my mind and body in order to see clearly, then palming would be a good activity for me to practice.  However, my experience shows that small shifting is more important for me to practice.

Beyond these ideas, another change I’ve made is using my first pair of close work glasses (-3.00 D) for driving, which I started doing today.  I drive the same roads pretty much every day, so these glasses allow me to drive safely but with a little less clarity than my current distance pair of glasses.  Since I only need my close work glasses (-2.50 D) for seeing the projector screens at school and computer screens, my distance pair (-3.75 D) will be used very little or not at all now. 🙂 In addition to this change, I am still working on wearing glasses as little as possible throughout the day.

I think the next step I will work on is using the computer without glasses.  The strength of the glasses I use for the computer is so low (-2.50 D) that I believe I can reach this goal in a relatively short time.  I know I can see clearer now through the close work pair than when I first received them.  So, instead of ordering a weaker close work pair of glasses, I think I will start transitioning to not using any glasses for this task.  I’ll probably start doing this with my home computer then later with the computers at school which I often use for homework.  I  know this goal is fully achievable if I make a habit of using small shifts and not having tunnel vision.


9 thoughts on “I’m finally using the Snellen chart correctly

  1. sorrisi says:

    Mark – this is fantastic! As you keep practicing like this on different lines and different distances, the smaller shifts will come! One thing that helps me is to sway slightly, and notice something near me that is moving in the opposite direction. As I’m looking at a letter, I reduce the sway (and notice the swing in myperiphery becomes less) and as I do the letters in the distance become more clear!


  2. dreamersight says:

    Good for you for reducing your prescription! This is great & it shows your consistent work is paying off. I use the computer without glasses & have to be mindful of not moving in too close, when I really start to lose the awareness of the periphery. What helps is having something attractive nearby to look at to get me to switch my focus often, like the window to the side of the computer I can look out of or the colorful picture on the other side of the room or the eye chart beyond that. Switching my focus often & not going into tunnel vision mode has been big for me.

    Keep up the great work & keep letting us know how it’s going.

  3. FMR says:


    I applaud your desire to free yourself of glasses for all close work as soon as possible.

    There are positive benefits of using glasses as little as possible. By not wearing glasses, you learn to identify yourself not as an eyeglass wearer, but as someone who wears eyeglasses at times. I think that’s the greatest benefit to going mostly without glasses for an extended period of time (a week, a few months, or a couple of years). I’ve done it multiple times over the years, for various durations of time. I’ve played games with myself (like for a whole year never wearing glasses in a certain situation) and many variations on teh theme. This was how I finally learned to become comfortable with wearing glasses–by not wearing them (I used to wear them nearly all the time a long time ago). Of course there are still certain situations I don’t feel comfortable wearing them in.

    However, I will say that after two years of using glasses minimally, I managed to strain my vision. And abusing my eyes on a computer, I actually started developing astigmatism on top of the remaining nearsightedness I had. My eyes wouldn’t focus properly, and things were blurring more.

    I finally said to myself that I’m going to go back to glasses. I remembered that in the past, any improvements I had made were made wearing reduced glasses for at least half of the duration of each day. So about a week ago, I went back to wearing glasses, and it was honestly the best decision I made. It took a while to break in and get used to focusing in them, but after a week, my eyes are no longer stuck; they are able to focus somewhat. And that astigmatism I developed over the last year or so is decreasing rapidly after just a week of this.

    I’m writing this because I want to point out to certain people, namely You, Fuoco, and Mark, that if you’re not getting the results you want, consider wearing glasses. The glasses I’m wearing still leave a lot of bluriness except for things that are very close. Small details aren’t discernible, and sometimes I have trouble seeing a difference with or without the glasses. The glasses are approx 1.75 diopters under, and provide comfortable working vision for me for close work, reading from a normal distance, using the computer, or any activities outdoors that don’t require pinpoint acuity (which is mostly everything.

    Honestly, for many people, when your nearsightedness is between 3 and 1 diopters, just discarding glasses may not work for certain people. If you are one of those people, do not hesitate to wear reduced glasses a large part of the day. You want to maximize your comfort and focusing accuracy. As long as the glasses leave you with some blur, they will not damage your vision. And it’s not like a higher prescription where the edge of the lens is a lot stronger (than the center) and is potentially dangerous to look through. There is too much emphasis on glasses being “bad”. It has been warped way out of proportion. The right lens used for the right activites in the right way can actually be good for your eyes. I just wanted to put this forth as an alternative method in case there are others out there spinning their wheels and not improving. Honestly, eliminating 2.75 diopters of myopia is not something that people can often do entirely without glasses. Often, the people who discard their glasses up front never totaly improve. They might get down to 0.75 diopters in this manner. But in the long run, slow and steady is often preferable. And drastically reduced glasses are often a useful tool for people like myself who had trouble going “cold turkey”. Two years and no improvement was a waste of time, looking back. But then again, I hated glasses and didn’t like wearing them anyway. I will just accept now that I will be wearing glasses of some type basically forever.

    Even when I have clear distance vision someday, I will still have a tendency toward problems focusing, and will need reading glasses as a preventative tool to hold the distance vision stable. Vision is a tradeoff. You can only get maximal clarity at one distance at a time, because society today places high demands on focusing from near to far and back again. There’s no sense in improving one’s distance vision to perfect, only to need glasses for close work, right? The solution is to use glasses as a tool to not only reverse vision problems, but to prevent further problems. I think it is totally unreasonable to say “I’m going to totally discard glasses one day”. A much better goal would be “I will reduce my nearsightedness to 1/5 or what is now. I will only need glasses for night time driving. I will improve my peripheral vision, stero vision, color perception, and contrast sensitivity significantly. I will improve my coordination and reduce my fatigue and anxiety that is caused by visual overload. I will keep my eyes healthy and avoid ocular pathology. I may will need to use very weak distance glasses for some activities, and well as reading glasses in order to prevent relapse and maintain flexibility of the visual system, but I will have reduced the severity of my issue drastically, and will need glasses for much less time per day than I used to.

    That was my little reality check. Yes, vision can definitely be improved. Yes, you can for all intents and purposes often attain near perfect fnctional vision if you’re dedicated and persistent. But those who say glasses are to avoided totally and who want to reduce several diopters of problem by going almost cold-turkey: just a warning, you may be a bit premature and you may find you need reduced lenses a lot longer than you thught you would. Then again, there are people who are able to go cold-turkey. It depends on you. But after two years and no improvement, take it from me…you don’t want to make teh same mistake I did if going all at once doesn’t seem to be working for you.

  4. FMR says:

    Mark, the other thing is:

    I wouldn’t label a -2.50 as extremely weak. While it’s possible that -2.50 is more than enough for your computer work right now, you might consider getting a -1.75 and simply moving a bit further back from the screen (while maintaining good posture), rather than going with no glasses and putting your face 8 inches from the screen and straining your neck. Take it from soneone who did this for a long time and strained their neck! This and laying on the floor using a laptop caused a strained neck and some astigmatism.

    You could always take off the -1.75 if your eyes start to fatigue…that’s the great thing about glasses being removable unlike contacts! FInally, don’t feel you have to put yourself so far back from the screen that you strain to see it because you’re too far away (another mistake I made).

  5. FMR says:

    Forgot another thing:

    You should really not be using the same glasses you wear for the board and projector for the computer; chances are they are too strong. All the more reason to get another reduced lens for computer and close work.

    Good luck.

  6. mark825 says:

    FMR: I have three points I want to discuss.

    1) I do believe that both distance and near vision can be improved to perfect. When I was younger, both of these were perfect. Also, there are plenty of people (including some of my friends) who have perfect vision in both the close point and distance. The muscles of the eye work like any other muscles. They contract to accommodate the eye for close work and relax to see objects in the distance. I don’t understand why one cannot have muscles that are strong and relaxed when needed. Many athletes have this quality such as martial artists, gymnasts, and even some professional weight lifters.

    Additionally, I honestly don’t care what the refractive states (measured in Diopters) of my eyes are. Whether they are still at -5.75D or at a lesser number doesn’t really matter to me. What I do think is important is the visual acuity (measured in distance from chart/line read) of my eyes. This is why people have clear flashes; their refractive state is pretty much the same, but their visual acuity temporarily improves. I’m sure many people have non-zero refractive states but still have 20/20 or better vision; Jacob Liberman is an example.

    2) I’m not sure why you think I’m going cold turkey. I use 2 to 3 pairs of reduced prescription glasses throughout the day. One for close work, one for most distance work, and one for extra clarity in the distance.

    3) I don’t think that my close work pair of glasses is strong. My strongest prescription was -5.75D, so -2.50D is about half of that. With this comparison, my close work glasses are weak. Also, they only allow me to see about 20/80, which is around what is needed for normal reading distances. The fact that I am able to use them for the projector screens at school (which is a medium/long distance) shows that I am relaxed while wearing them and have improved from when I started.

  7. FMR says:


    That’s good; 20/80 glasses often work well for close work and/or relaxed general use. My own (minus) reading glasses give me vision between 20/80 and 20/200 depending on lighting.

    I hope you can improve both your near and distance vision to perfect and never even need reading glasses when you get older. That would be some feat. But even if you do need glasses of some type here and there over the years, you will still have made huge improvement. Something like 90% of us end up needing plus-lens (or bifocal for people with myopia or astigmatism) reading glasses by age 80. By “need”, I mean find it impossible to read small print without. But maybe that won’t happen to you. It doesn’t happen to everyone, and it’s too far away to even think about at our age.

    As for refractive state in terms of diopters, I’d argue that it actually does matter. The reason is that as you improve your distance vision, your refractive error WILL diminish in severity. There is no way around this. You can’t have stable 20/20 distance vision AND a refractive error of -5 diopters simultaneously; it’s impossible. If you attain 20/20 distance vision five years from now, your refractive error will have to be at or near zero by definition. When you were younger and had perfect vision near and far, you not only had 20/20 distance vision, but you also had a refractive error close to zero. Again, there is NO way a person who attains 20/20 distance vision can have a distance refractive error of any significance and still be able to see 20/20. So don’t think that you might get locked into having this refractive error forever. That won’t happen; it WILL diminish as your vision improves (and has likely already diminished in all honesty based upon he improvement you have already had. The ultimate proof of vision improvement is seeing those diopter numbers decrease, in addition to seeing your vision improve.

  8. FMR says:

    One other thing:

    You compared your -2.50D reading glasses to your strongest EVER -5.75 distance prescription.

    Don’t compare the power of your current close vision glasses to your strongest-ever distance glasses. Compare them to the glasses you CURRENTLY use for distance (-3.75, right?). As a rule of thumb for maximal strain reduction, you want close glasses that are between 1 and 2 D weaker than your CURRENT glasses that you are using for distance (and yours fall into this range nicely). 3.75-2.50=1.25. Assuming your -3.75 distance glasses are slightly reduced form a full-power prescription, your close glasses would give you maximum sharpness at about 30 inches away (in theory…though your actual numbers may differ drastically). Let me know if you want to know how I did that calculation.

    Good luck.

  9. FMR says:

    Last thing:

    I like the way your doing this three pair of glasses for various distances. I use the exact same method, it WORKS. Keep doing it and you’ll definitely have long-term improvement. Trust me.

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