Plus Lens Therapy for Myopia – Good or Bad?

I have come across many people over the years rant or rave about wearing plus lenses as a therapy for myopia. Plenty of opinions from both extremes, and everything in between. Are they the best way to reverse myopia? Do they cause additional vision problems? Are they ok for limited purposes?

It’s hard to answer those questions definitely, but this is an attempt to explain how I look at it.

 

What Are Plus Lenses?

First you have to understand what myopia (nearsightedness) is optically. There is a convex lens inside the eye that causes the light rays to converge, or focus, onto the retina. The light rays being bent in any manner like this is called refraction. In a myopic eye, the light rays are focused in front of the retina, ie: the rays are converged too much, so they cross in front of the retina and then separate again and hit the retina in a disordered array, creating blur.

Eyeglass lenses prescribed for myopia (nearsightedness) are concave, meaning they’re thicker on the edges than in the middle. This causes light rays passing through it to diverge. This prescription for myopia is written down as a negative or “minus” number, such as -3.00 diopters. So the light rays are diverged through the eyeglass lens, then they pass through the myopic eye’s convex lens, the result being that the light rays come to a focus on the retina. The -3 diopter lens compensated for the over-focusing of the eye.

For hyperopia (farsightedness) or for old-age presbyopia, it’s the opposite. The amount of under focus is written as a positive number, because a convex eyeglass lens is used to add additional focusing power.

So when a person with myopia wears a convex lens meant to correct farsightedness, the result is even more blur, as the light comes to a focus even farther in front of the retina.

 

How Plus Lens Therapy Works

Here is the theory behind it.

Basically the idea is the eye adapts to whatever focusing environment it is predominantly exposed to. So for someone who does not wear glasses, regardless of whether they “need” them or not, focusing up close for near work will cause the eye to become more myopic. Focusing a little farther away will cause a slower myopic shift, and focusing for the distance will not increase myopia. Plus lenses change the focusing level required, such that the eye does not need to focus much (or at all) for nearwork, but the distance will become (more) blurry to a myopic or normal sighted person. So by wearing plus lenses, the effect is such that focusing near will have little or no effect, while focusing for distance will cause a hyperopic shift, or away from myopia, or in other words lessening the degree of myopia. If the use of plus lenses is continued, myopia will be entirely eliminated, the eye will focus perfectly, and if it is continued further, the eye will become hyperopic.

So that is the explanation for plus lenses in a nutshell. It isn’t a system of eye exercises like many programs you’ll find on the internet, but a way of using certain glasses prescriptions.

 

My Take on Plus Lens Therapy

I’ve had the experience of looking up from a long session of reading to find that the distance has gotten blurry (or blurrier), which is one thing that plus lens therapy advocates will point to. Indeed, that was one of the first things I noticed when I started looking into vision improvement. But even then I noticed that there were exceptions, and I had found ways to temporarily improve my vision such that I could see that my quality of vision was not simply a result of the focusing level my eyes had been doing. Moreover, other students spent many hours studying as well and did not become myopic the way the theory said they should, and they weren’t farsighted either. Over time I started to see more consistently how my mental state and how I thought about what I was looking at had much more to do with my quality of vision than any time spent doing any near- or distance-looking task.

I believe myopia, like some other vision problems, is a psycho-physiological disorder. Myopia is caused not by too much near work, but by how dexterously the visual system operates while doing not only near work but far work. Vision is an incredibly complex task, and when the balance is thrown off or some parts are suppressed by stress, tiredness or misuse, myopia and other problems result, depending on the predispositions of the person.

It isn’t what the eye is exposed to, but how the eye, and the brain, are used or misused by the conscious individual.

You bend over to pick up a box the wrong way, you hurt your back. You don’t chew your food, you choke. We have the freedom to do things badly with our bodies and the responsibility to do things right. Vision is no different. There is a right way to use the eyes, and there are consequences to the wrong ways. Myopia is one such consequence.

So to me, plus lenses are an unnecessary interference. If you want to restore the natural function of your visual system, introducing a factor that creates such an extreme artificial environment to confuse the hell out of it is not a good idea.

Plus lenses may have some short-term effects as the visual system reacts, but with such an approach your visual system will become dependent on the plus lenses not only to improve but to avoid getting worse. Advocates admit that constant use of plus lenses, over a period of years, is necessary to cause the necessary changes by 1/2 diopter per year. That’s incredibly slow.

Aspirin works to relieve your headache, but what else is the aspirin doing to you? Pain medication messes with the signals. And plus lenses likewise mess with the signals in your brain regarding how the eye needs to focus. It’s presumptuous to interfere with those, whether by chemical or mechanical means, and not expect side effects or undesired long term consequences. I’m just speaking generally here. That’s my philosophy of unnecessary intervention into systems that are made to run themselves and adjust as needed.

Plus lenses also interfere with your peripheral vision the same as minus lenses do. Peripheral vision is an important component that a well-functioning visual system uses to calibrate itself. Glasses teach you to suppress the perception of everything that isn’t directly in front of you.

The lack of plus lenses did not cause myopia, and plus lenses are not needed to solve the problem and are not an appropriate solution.

 

I understand if you’re confused and frustrated and if plus lenses seem like a simple solution when you just don’t understand the Bates method. If there were a simple solution that anyone could learn in a few minutes, I would be all for it. Believe me, I dislike unnecessary complexity. But plus lenses are not the simple solution you’re looking for. The real solution is already available to you, and I have written about it endlessly in this blog.


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David
I founded iblindness.org in 2002 as I began reading books on the Bates Method and became interested in vision improvement. I believe that everyone who is motivated can identify the roots of their vision problems and apply behavioral changes to solve them. I am into spirituality, lucid dreaming, archery, hang gliding, health and fitness. I own a gym equipment store and gym equipment blog.
David

Author: David

I founded iblindness.org in 2002 as I began reading books on the Bates Method and became interested in vision improvement. I believe that everyone who is motivated can identify the roots of their vision problems and apply behavioral changes to solve them. I am into spirituality, lucid dreaming, archery, hang gliding, health and fitness. I own a gym equipment store and gym equipment blog.

21 thoughts on “Plus Lens Therapy for Myopia – Good or Bad?”

  1. “I believe myopia, like some other vision problems, is a functional disorder, not an adaptation”

    I think this is the probably the root of the conflict, whether or not one views it purely as an adaptation. (

    I personally don’t agree with your analysis, I would like to hear more about what makes you think its more functional than adaptive. It just makes sense from an adaptive point of view, E.G. You do close work, your eyes adapt to closer range, your doctor prescribes you back to 20/20 and you continue to work at close range, your vision adapts to an even closer range. (This is my current understanding of how myopia comes about) So to me, in theory plus lenses would be the easiest way to get yourself from mild myopia back to 20/20, with more severe myopia you can achieve the same result by just under-correcting.

    As far as functional goes, this makes less sense to me, because although using your eyes properly ( Moving them around and focusing properly ) may be very important I just don’t think someone could start relaxing and moving there eyes and get perfect vision all of the sudden ( Assuming one magically learned how they should be using their eyes ) IMO if this was the case wouldn’t one see dramatic improvement over very short periods if they began using their eyes properly? It doesn’t add up, there has to be something more than just technique to myopia.

    Disclaimers and comments::
    I do not use plus lenses and do not like the general idea of it, but I would certainly consider using them if I had very mild myopia and had trouble getting my vision back to 20/20.

    While my understanding that myopia is adaptation, I do agree that technique is incredibly important and would be willing to change my views if I saw information to suggest something different that my current understanding.

    Feel free to PM me David, curious on the information you used to form your view ( I may be missing some information or misunderstanding your view )

    …and no I don’t sell eye glasses. 😀 😀 😀 😀

    ~WTFGOD ( Wouldn’t let me sign in to post??? )

    1. Near work does not cause myopia. It prevents ambliopia from forming when the mind is disturbed.

    2. Near work does not cause myopia, it prevents ambiopia? This seems slightly counter intuitive, do you have a source I could look at? Also any verbosity would be appreciated.

  2. Thank you David for posting some statements against the plus lens method. The # 1 complaint I get from people who have been using those reading glasses is development of presbyopia. If the person already had it; the plus lens reading glasses increase it. As time passes the lens’ movement, function becomes more and more restricted, tense and circulation, hydration in the les is impaired. Cataract develops. CSR, broken blood vessels in the retina are more side effects of the plus and the minus lens. We must be sure the public knows that the plus lens method is not the Bates Method.

  3. I think you’re way off the mark with your opinion of plus glasses therapy, all they are is the reversal of an unnatural reliance on close up work, especially during childhood while the eye shape is developing most. To not reverse this with plus glasses and trying to use a pseudo-behavioural technique just doesn’t work on most people, especially children, and is mystical-like. Clark says presbyopia is a common development of plus therapy, are you sure they are not already long sighted and plus lenses were not appropriate in the first place? Update: many organisations around the world are now declaring that near work contributes to myopia, so you’re argument that plus glasses won’t help is ludicrous. We can’t live in denial forever as people discov the benefits of pluses each day.

  4. All glasses ruin the eyes’ health, clarity of vision and the eyes’ growth. Glasses impair a child’s brain function, growth. This pushing of the plus lens method is just another phony vision method that is very destructive, harmful. I am tired of these plus lens people using Dr. Bates name to make believe they are Bates teachers when in reality they are not, they are teaching completely opposite the Bates Method. They never post their true name on this forum. I suspect some are not even really plus lens people; are in that little group of about 12 high priced teachers from Kiev, Ukraine, Poland and Italy that attack people who teach the Bates Method for free.

    Many of the plus lens sellers-users have had lasik on their corneas and/or implanted prescriptions inside their eyes and-or wear stronger and stronger glasses; but they do not admit that, wont admit the plus lens method impaired their vision.

    Their eye stretches are also harmful; A lot of students come to us to undo the harm it has caused; A inside part of one person’s eye detached.

    The Bates Method and reading fine print without glasses is a natural safe method to cure myopia and presbyopia.

    To the public; AVOID GLASSES. Don’t let the plus lens people lie to you. Their method really does cause cataract, presbyopia, other problems, is very addictive. They also sell stronger and stronger minus lens glasses.

    Shame on the plus lens people for selling to children; its like the tobacco companies selling cigarettes to young people. A addictive product that destroys the health. Note the plus guys are always linking to their eye surgeons (disguised as teachers, teachers that teach wrong and hide Dr. Bates true method); specialists in lasik, retina and cataract surgery and prescription implants.
    Read a pdf booklet about the plus lens. Download the big one with many pictures. Also teaches how to use fine print and other Bates Method practices to see clear without glasses; http://cleareyesight-batesmethod.info/id36.html

  5. Anyone telling you plus therapy doesn’t work is also trained to tell you that myopia is hereditary and near work has nothing to do with short sightedness, both of which have not been proven wrong and reluctantly agreed to by optometrist associationgs. However they’re 100 years too late and this was already known back then, so who do you trust, the industy that profits from eyeglasses or practitioners who’ve actually reversed and cured myopia? Ask your optometrist whether they’ve reversed myopia in any of the thousands of patients they’ve treated.

  6. Hi . I am a 17 years old teenager girl. And when i was in my middle 16 years of age my optometrist told me you need glasses. The left eye is -0.5 and my right eye is -1.00 and probably it has get worse -1.25 i haven’t check my eyes yet. I just want my cristal clear vision back I literally HATE this vision imparement and i don not wanna live like that . I am thinking of using plus lenses but of course with the suggestion of my eye doctor. and i am ready to do everything out there to improve my eyesight and to have at least 20/40 vision . please give me some suggestion should i use this plus lenses or what else should i do ? Thank you in advance !

    1. Luisana,

      Good for you for looking for a better answer right away! Most people take years to start looking around at alternative advice and wait until their vision is a lot worse than yours.

      I don’t recommend plus lenses. I recommend reading some of the other posts on this site and joining the email list if you haven’t yet.

  7. I honestly appreciate for responding me . But i am in doubt about something ,, i am not sure yet but i have some suspections that i do have Pseudo-myopia . Does it change something ? Should I still follow the Bates method?

  8. I am sorry, may be there are so many scientific words that are being used like myopia , under correction leses etc. i would be really happy if you could please help me to understand the process. I find things blurry which are at far distance from me or i can say out of focus, I guess I going through myopia !! Now please let me know, plus lenses are usually used for those who can not see things which are closer to them while reading …studying, on pc etc. If would be interested to use this therapy Do I need to use + power specs ( those ones which are used for focusing near things -farsighted ) ? Will I be able to read through these glasses and will not my eyes be more worst ?

  9. I have been using reading glasses for few months to reverse myopia(-0.5D).. recently I got eye exam n found my eyes have no defect. It means reading glasses are good to prevent myopia.

    1. Did u use +1 or +2 reading glass, i am too in the early stage of myopia and want to improve it.. what type would i use it? did your eyes improved when using any methods. kindly share the preventive measures taken 🙂

    2. plus lenses do work especially for low myopia, less than -2 diopters. I am a good case. A couple of years ago I spoke via E-mail with a Finish eye doctor who had had over 70 years of experience in her field. Her name is Kaisu Viikari. She has written a couple of books as well as published medical articles. Her books are inexpensive on Amazon. She discovered plus lens method in 1970s.

      In my case I got my glasses prescribed for the first time at age of 16 and 9 months. Both eyes -1.5D. I never wore them up-close, indoors as I got eye strain(I am NOT a candidate for laser correction because I have to take off my distance glasses all the time to prevent further strain ib my pseudomyopic eyes). My prescription had been stable till age of 27. I had worn glasses maximum 1 hr a day on average or none for many months. When I hit 27 I wanted to add something to my new style. i got glasses. Eye doctor prescribed me both eyes -2d to see 20/15. the image was far too crispy. i wpre the glasses only outdoors. The far point that eyes stop accommodating(contracting ciliary muscles to make natural eye lenses) is 6metres(20feet). Beyond that point a person with normal vision acuity has their eye muscles completely relaxed, the eye lenses become flattened. in myopic eyes they still are in up-close mode, cant relax. if one looks at 50cm image(laptop or a book, chopping boardetc.) eyes accommodate +2 diopters(crystal lenses become convex). if one looks at his iphone at distance of 30cm eye accommodate +3D. if you are already myopic and have lets say -2D prescription means your eyes are constantly focusing on this distance regardless if you look at the moon etc. if you wear full distance prescription at 50cm it meanse your eyes are given another 2diopters strength. What happens next. your eyes and brain think you are -4d nearsighted as the image of corrected eyes at 50cm distance is moved to the back of retina making your eyes hyperopic. the eyes try to compensate it so the muscles continue to get morr contractions. spasm. as a consequence of this MISbehaviour eyrs start to elongate and from pseudomyopic eyes we start to develop to axial myopia. if the person doesnt use -2d glasses and reads alway at a distance >50 cm and wears myopic glasses that correct their vision to infinity(vision that allows them to see the moon without ghostic, blur, starburst, just like a dot) person wont develop higher degree of nearsightedness.

      currently I am wearing -0.75d only when I am outdoors in new town or place I dont know to ser detailed street signs or street names etc.. got rid off astigmatism that was prescribed last year(gave me doublr vision). eye docs in chained stores get comission if the glasses you are prescribed are sold with their names. every two yeara eye docs like to modify prescription at least about -.25 d more or less to get profits for both their employers and themselves. my prescription on 13/04/18 was -2.25, -.75d of astigmatism(right eye) and -2. -1d rerespectively left eye. three weeks latet they took off astigmatis givinge 20/15 vision. its wondering how come they give me cylinders and I see double to infinity and have feeling of being a foot taller and feel lighheaded while i go downastairs or climb. they admitted i see better without astigmatism correction. so whats the point of giving complex prescription. I went to anothet eye doctor on 21st June 2018 and he prescribed me -1.5d. …full correction. i have been using reading glasses up close slightly reduced distance glasses out doors only. I have done 2 1 week fruit and vegetable ffasting, taking boron(mineral)

  10. I have been using plus lens for 2 months but there isn’t any improvement instead the myopia has exacerbated , right eye -4.00 and left eye -3,75. please help with the real Bates method. Thanks in advance

  11. If you’re in higher myopia territory, wearing a plus lens might just turn your screen into blur-soup. No benefit in that, and for those who just look at the title “plus lens therapy”, the results might be a little depressing.

  12. I’ve started wearing glasses when I grade 6 elementary school and while I was in high school penglihatanku is getting worse. I’ve consulted with doctors expert eye they suggest to keep using the glasses but I’m always uncomfortable wearing it. Thank you have allot of different suggestions. I would love to try it out at the moment. visusoogkliniek.nl

  13. To me it’s inconceivable that the eye does not adapt to lenses. I simply can’t believe that people were walking around with -10D myopia in the 1500s just randomly due to genetics. The eye adapting to its environment by elongating (and the stairstep process that would result when people keep getting new glasses and spending almost all their time looking close with them on) is so obvious and compelling that I’d say the onus is on skeptics of this to disprove it. I think myopia progression has pretty much infiltrated the mainstream anyway. Furthermore, animal studies specifically show measurable changes in axial length with the use of different lenses. Finally, we know that babies start out far sighted and adapt back. The only questions in my mind are (a) to what extent this adaptability reduces with age, and (b) does the eye reduce axial length as easily as it increases it.

    If plus lens therapy means adding a certain amount of plus to your existing prescription, I can’t imagine how it could hurt anything. This is what reading glasses (or the reading part of bifocals) is after all. And how could it induce presbyopia any more than spending all your days looking off in the distance?

    1. Yes, glasses can help cause a certain amount of change in either direction. But relying on them to try to reverse your condition isn’t the best idea, because it isn’t permanent, and in the long run it’s harmful. People’s vision get unfocused due to the way they use their vision and the tension they put into the seeing process. Reversing those issues is the way to go, and it will result in other aspects of vision, not just acuity, improving.

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