Naked Eyes

Darcel Rockett | consciouschoice

You would think wearing glasses all your life would somehow make them easier to bear. But the fact remains that glasses and/or daytime contacts are still cumbersome, and some of us long for the freedom that comes from seeing the world with a truly naked eye. Especially when you consider that eyes are considered the windows to our souls.

Which leads one to consider alternative eye treatments such as crt lenses and the See Clearly Method scm. The former flattens the cornea via contact lenses worn at night to bring the eye into correct focus and the latter is a self-help method that focuses on exercises to naturally improve eyesight.

“Myopia is a small part of the optometric practice, but a huge focus within alternative eye treatments,” said optometrist Paul Harris, proprietor of the Baltimore Vision Fitness Center.

See Clearly Method

Harris, who has taught visual therapy to about 750 optometrists during his 24-year career, feels comfortable in saying the See Clearly Method can help nearsighted sufferers reduce their prescription by two diopters, the numbers that indicate the strength of a lens prescription.

However, Harris, who gets many patients who have used the method, says that while the process may help about two to five percent of the population, the results will not radically change their lifestyle.

“You see claims that the See Clearly Method can help everybody, but those claims make us professionals cringe,” he said. “Even if I use all the tools in my kit, I can only decrease nearsightedness by two diopters. There’s nothing bad or harmful in the See Clearly Method, but in the end the person will still be dependent on glasses.”

According to the website www.seeclearlymethod.com, some people using the self-help method are trying to avoid needing stronger prescriptions. Others are trying to reduce the time wearing their glasses or want to get rid of them altogether.

The regimen was designed by optometrists and research scientists (the American Vision Institute) who believed just as one can improve health by exercising, one can improve vision by exercising the eyes. Hence, a type of ocular calisthenics was formed — four half-hour exercise sessions, to be done daily for a minimum of 30 minutes, that teach vision improvement techniques. The program comes in the mail with four eye charts, an instruction manual, a daily progress chart, and an eyestrain program to help those who work on computers frequently, for $349. (The program has a 30-day money-back guarantee.)

The scm entails 16 techniques that are supposed to strengthen and enhance the flexibility of the muscles that govern the eye’s focusing power and control its movements (i.e., holding a finger up as you vary your focus back and forth from the finger to a distant object).

Some exercises are holdovers from a regimen developed in the 1920s by New York ophthalmologist William Horatio Bates, and may seem a little unusual or extreme to some people. For instance, one technique called “Light Therapy” has you sit with eyes closed facing an unshaded light bulb.

The “palming” technique has you close your eyes and rest them against your palms. In “Hydrotherapy” you alternately placing hot- and cold-water-soaked towels against your eyes. Each exercise takes two to four minutes. And people can choose techniques depending on what they want to improve.

“The exercises are meant to change the way one uses their eyes, create new habits for their eyes in their daily goings-on,” said Steve Cooperman, director of marketing for Vision Improvement Technologies, Inc.–a Fairfield, Iowa, company that markets the scm. “But the key factor of the program is motivation. Doctors have seen more results in those who use the program with a positive attitude.”

“A smaller population could benefit from the See Clearly Method by reducing some component of their nearsightedness,” said optometrist Jeffrey Weaver, director of the clinical care group for the American Optometric Association in St. Louis, MO. “They’re clever in saying some of their exercises could slow down the progression of nearsightedness. There’s probably some truth to that, but still no real way of measuring this after using the procedure.”

The manual suggests that as your vision improves, you should obtain progressively weaker corrective lenses until you no longer require correction or have realized maximum improvement.

“Their claims may be somewhat misleading and probably a stretch,” said Weaver. “They’re clever in saying some of their exercises could slow down the progression of nearsightedness. There’s probably some truth to that, but still no real way of measuring this after using the procedure.”

Sandra Block, a professor who specializes in pediatrics at the Illinois College of Optometry, has similar sentiments.

“I think the optometric community is not supportive of the See Clearly Method because it’s primarily based on testimonials,” said the self-described clinical researcher. “The research on this method hasn’t demonstrated the effectiveness of it. It’s a method based on personal success and what is success, how can it be measured? It disturbs me that the scm don’t give good end points.”

CRT Lenses

As for contact lenses that help eye power, there are crt lenses created by Paragon Vision Science, Inc. of Mesa, Ariz. According to the website, www.paragoncrt.com, the lenses are used in corneal refractive therapy, a non-surgical process wherein the cornea is reshaped while sleeping. This reshaping is supposed to make spectacles and contact lenses unnecessary during daytime hours. Per the website, these lenses are designed for individuals of any age and when used as instructed, most patients have improvement in the first few days of treatment and achieve nearly their optimum vision in 10 to 14 days.

For this reason, corneal refractive therapy is supposed to help a bigger group of people, according to Dr. Norman Patterson, an optometrist who has been utilizing the procedure with patients in his clinic, the Tinley Park Eye Center, for three years. Weaver suggests that less than 10 percent of U.S. optometrists use the practice.

“The process has been around for the past five to six years, but there hasn’t been enough information put out to the public on it,” Patterson said.

“I think it’s the greatest thing that’s ever come out for the industry—everyone’s eyes will improve.”

When the crt lens (which has a flatter center and higher edges than a regular contact lens) is applied to the eye, pressure from the lens is placed on the cornea so it becomes flatter. To correct vision, it essentially reshapes the optical surface of an eye that is long and makes it rounder, as a normal eye should be.

“When the eye stretches to become longer, the vision is very poor due to the thinning nature of the cornea,” Patterson said. “But this lens, which is thinner and more porous than a regular contact lens, reshapes the cornea.

This used to be done through the practice of orthokeratology, which uses a series of lenses over the course of one to two years. Now scm does this overnight and with one lens.”

To create the proper lens, optometrists perform an eye exam, use a keratometer to measure the curvature of a patient’s cornea and its meridians, and then match that information with the measurement of nearsightedness of the patient. The result is produced in the lens. The entire process costs $1,200.

The lens is supposed to be put in every evening for a minimum of 10 hours. Weekly progress is checked by the doctor once a month for the first year and once a year after that. While scm does not guarantee 20/20 vision for all patients, Patterson said those with 20/40 vision are still happy with the results after years of being dependent on glasses. He added that people who used to be fitted for bifocals can now see without glasses.

“The sooner one gets in when they realize they are nearsighted, the better their vision will be with scm,” Patterson said.

But there are limits with scm lenses. According to the website, there are no lenses for people suffering from farsightedness. And the effects of the lenses are temporary for those with myopia. One must wear them regularly while sleeping or vision will return to its original state in as little as 72 hours. The website goes on to say after treatment has begun, insertion of the scm lenses for part of the day or some use of temporary soft lenses in different prescriptions might be necessary. The lenses may also need to be replaced once a year or more frequently, depending on how careful the user is in caring for them.

Even with these limitations, Weaver, a 20-year professional, said scm seems to be a very useful procedure for some people.

“With scm the expected result is 20/20 vision and maybe some think that’s going to be seen with the See Clearly Method, but it’s less likely,” he said and added this caution: “Before one embarks on a path for their eye health, an eye exam with an optometrist should be taken and future plans discussed.”

Darcel Rockett is a Chicago area writer who has been wearing glasses since kindergarten.

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