Tell Me About Your Improved Nearsightedness
March 5, 2021 4:10 PM   Subscribe

(I'm going to see an optometrist when it's safe to do so. This is just to satisfy my curiosity until then.) Lately, I've been able to see better when I pull my glasses about an inch farther away from my face. I've read that this means my myopia has improved and that this sometimes happens in middle age. I'm also aware that this has negative implications but let's put that aside for now. My question is: if this has happened to you, by how much did your prescription change?

I've been -3.50 in both eyes for over 30 years.
posted by paperback version to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Just to clarify: I'm sure it's different for everyone.
posted by paperback version at 4:13 PM on March 5

Mine didn't improve so much as the formerly rapid deterioration just suddenly stopped. After 20 years of constantly needing new glasses with wildly different needs for each eye, my prescription has been static in both eyes, which evened out at functionally the same level, for several years. I see a retinal specialist in addition to my usual eye doc for a different vision issue, but they both say that these things can and do happen idiosyncratically. I wouldn't work unless a doctor tells you there's a need to anticipate a problematic mechanism when plenty of mechanisms are benign.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 4:28 PM on March 5

Best answer: It's different for everyone and I've been -3.50 in both eyes for probably a couple decades. Although it seemed like things might be getting slightly better for a couple years, it was never enough to really change my prescription whenever I got it measured. Now I still have the -3.5 script plus an "optional" +1 if I want to get bifocals/progressives, though so far I haven't bothered with the expense. I am getting to the point where I prefer removing my glasses to read my phone at night, or after I've been looking in the farther-than-computer screen distance for a while. (I'm almost 45 years old.)
posted by misskaz at 5:06 PM on March 5

How old are you and where is your vision improved when you pull your glasses a bit further out on your nose? Is it seeing close things, middle-distance things, or distant things?

Somewhere between the ages of 40 and 60, roughly, everyone loses their ability to focus close, and then--gradually--the ability to focus your eyes much at all. So you end up with fixed focus eyes.

So when someone says they can see better by pulling their glasses down their nose and inch or so, my first thought is this is someone in the first stages of presbyopia and reason you can "see better" when you pull your glasses down your nose a bit, is because this moves your focal point nearer in to you, allowing you to see things like a computer screen, book, phone, sewing, etc etc etc a good bit better.

If you are looking at distant things--say something 1 mile off--does moving your glasses down your nose make it look sharper or more blurry? If sharper, then your nearsightedness might indeed have improved somewhat. If more blurry, then you're in the first stages of presbyopia.

FWIW I survived maybe the first 3-4 years of presbyopia just by moving my glasses down my nose a bit when looking at close things. It's still a useful trick in some situations.
posted by flug at 5:43 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In my mid low to mid thirties my eyes adjusted from -10 and -9.5 to -8.5 in both eyes. I hadn’t looked into negative implications as I was so excited to finally be able to use the same pack of contacts for either eye.
posted by icaicaer at 6:33 PM on March 5

Response by poster: flug: I'm mid-40s. I'm not sure about distant things b/c I only wear my glasses inside the house. But, indoors, I think I've been finding my monitor a bit blurrier than my TV (so, the closer thing is blurrier).

Another thing: I've come to the point where I can't read fine print or see things that are really up close -- when I have my glasses/contacts on. Without lenses, I can see things up-close just fine. With lenses, I can't, but I can if I pull my glasses away and look through the lenses that way.

Thank you for the info. I am going to read into this more when I have time later tonight. icaicaer , sorry if I'm the bearer of bad news!
posted by paperback version at 6:39 PM on March 5

That is definitely a symptom of needing a reading prescription. What can happen is your short sightedness (which your glasses correct) and your long sightedness (trouble focussing up close) cancel out, and if you don't have something like astigmatism going on or it's not that bad then you can remove your glasses and get the fix you need.

Worked for me for a while, and my optician basically told me not to bother with the reading prescription on my glasses for a while, but I've eventually succumbed and got a pair of progressives.

As a half way house, you can get your optician to write you a reading prescription (your usual prescription toned down a bit, basically) and take it to Zenni to get a pair for cheap readers for when it matters. They can also sort you out with a monitor using prescription, which is half way between the two.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 8:31 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: This is all good info. Would still love to hear any answers to my question: if this has happened to you, by how much did your prescription change? (e.g. from -3.50 to -2.50, etc.).
posted by paperback version at 10:07 PM on March 5

Best answer: To give you some numbers, although I think it’s not what you want to hear, we left my myopia prescription the same and added a prescription for the presbyopia. I wear contacts so a little different but in the house I was noticing I was more comfortable with no contacts than wearing my -2.00. Now with multifocals, my vision is just all around better. I went from -2.00 to -2.00 and low multifocal that goes up to +1.25. I also tried just plain old -1.5 and that was not good. Bummer cuz multifocal contacts are more $$$
posted by Tandem Affinity at 5:53 AM on March 6

I have basically your exact prescription (-3, -3.25) and have been through basically the exact same thing you're describing. Also my dad is an optometrist who likes overexplaining things, so those are my credentials.

The bad news is that your myopia is not improving, and it's not going to. Sorry.

Nearsighted people need corrective lenses for distance, but can see fine up close. Young, strong, muscular eyeballs can also focus up close through the corrective lenses. Tired middle-aged eyeballs like yours and mine gradually lose this ability -- so your current prescription is still fine for distance viewing, but up close you're going to catch yourself taking off your glasses so you don't have to work so hard to focus up close through the corrected-for-distance lenses. (Which now that I read your followup, yup, that's happening)

(This is the one benefit of myopia, is that when the age-related presbyopia kicks in you can get away with no glasses for close-up work instead of needing to switch to reading glasses. For a while.)

TL;DR expect your distance vision to remain basically the same -- you'll still be near-sighted. Expect your close-up vision to get worse, but not as much worse as if you'd had perfect vision as a child.
posted by ook at 8:44 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]

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