When I hear this question about vision improvement, I am reminded of a young child going on a long car trip to visit relatives, in the days before there were video games to play or movies to watch on the ride. It’s difficult to get someone to focus on the adventure of the journey and on enjoying the scenery along the way when he or she is only interested in reaching the destination. Aldous Huxley, who wrote one of the classic early vision improvement books “The Art of Seeing”, called this “greedy end-gaining”. I was stung when I first read this phrase, knowing it described me, and my usual approach of “I have to reach the finish line, as soon as possible!”.
At my first visit to a behavioral optometrist, when I really got it into my head that I could reduce my lifelong strong nearsightedness, I proclaimed that I would become the vision patient who had improved the fastest! I was so hungry for hope back then, and I cringe at the memory now. This is that greedy end-gaining mindset! More than 10 years later, I have stopped wearing glasses completely, yet I am still not seeing 20/20 consistently. And I am not yet driving after dark, since I’d need glasses to do so safely. So am I there yet?
Yes, and no. I hardly ever have eyestrain now, and know what to do when I do — my visual system is sending me a message that it needs a break. So I give it one, whether it be a nap, or a session of palming, or a leisurely walk in Nature. My forehead is smoother than it was 10 years ago, and my eyes appear softer and moister, and I hope more welcoming and accepting. I believe this reflects my attitude changing from struggling to see, to now allowing myself to see, as easily as I can. I am no longer afraid that I won’t be able to see if it starts raining when I’m driving, or that I won’t be able to find something small I’ve dropped. I trust my vision a lot more than I ever did.
The Gertrude Stein quote “There is no there there” comes to mind. Even when I am seeing 20/20 consistently and driving confidently after dark without glasses, I know I will still be in the process of improving my vision. The “finish line” keeps moving forward. It used to be a very big deal to back my small car into my garage, at about 2mph, with no glasses! Then it was a huge milestone the first time I travelled cross-country without bringing my glasses, using my phone or asking others if I needed help finding my gate in the airport.
I am committed to seeing as well as I can with my healthy eyes, without using glasses, even the thought of which gives me a headache. Rather than being defeated by a situation which initially looks difficult, my approach is now “How can I make this work for myself?”. Maybe I need to sit in the first row in a big auditorium to make sure I can see. Maybe I need to hold the item I pick up in a store a bit closer than others to read the price, especially if the lighting is dim.
As I accept all I can do, I am pleased to find I am able to do a little bit more. I invite you to challenge what you think are your limitations (visual or otherwise), and to remember all you have accomplished so far, maybe some of which others said wasn’t possible. Fan that flame of human spirit and drive within yourself, and enjoy every step along the way toward your goal. If I can do it, you can too.