How To Avoid Nearsightedness
© Otis S. Brown 1989 (first edition)
Reprinted and expanded in 1995 and 1999.

Chapter I: Who is Responsible?

We have met the enemy and they is us. - Walt Kelly


It is difficult for us to change our habits of thought and practice, even when they lead to unhappy consequences. Very few of us will accept an uncommon proposal if that proposal involves the use of a preventive lens on the (almost) normal eye.


You must eventually decide how worthwhile maintaining normal 20/20 vision (focal state 0.0 to +1.5 diopters) is to you. If a plus lens is thrust upon you and you do not understand the reasons why you must use the lens, it is unlikely that you will persist in the effort long enough to achieve the desired result.

Only you can know how much effort you have actually put into your plus lens use. It is you who must verify that your eyes were 20/40 when you started using the lens and that your eyes have changed in value from 20/40 to 20/20 after several months of intensive plus lens use.


Up to the 1960's there was no high quality experimental data available by which one could judge the normal eye's behavior. For the last 25 years, increasingly better quality experimental data has been presented which does establish the fundamental behavior characteristic of the eye. To my knowledge, this information has never been made clearly and consistently available to the layman who has a compelling desire to avoid myopia. Such a person, with proper assistance, is most likely to make effective use of the recommended approach described in this book.

The analysis in the book concerns only nearsightedness that results from the fundamental behavioral characteristic of the normal eye. Since most nearsightedness is of this type, major emphasis is placed on the study and resolution of the normal eye's behavior.


We should learn from the man who successfully defeated the myopia situation. Dr. Stirling Colgate details his struggle and success with the problem in the following paragraphs.

"Science has progressed to understanding this mechanism of slow adaptation of the relaxed focal length (focal state) of the eye to its average focal environment. A significant number (several dozen) professional people in ophthalmology and related disciplines have empirically and intuitively come to the same conclusions (that nearsightedness is preventable) and unsuccessfully attempted, even with the dedication of a lifetime, to reverse the orthodox view of solely genetically determined eye focus."

"Many individuals in the ophthalmology profession have not yet recognized a mechanism of slow adaptation of the relaxed focal length (focal state) of the eye to its mean focal environment for various reasons. Among these reasons are:"

  1. "There is a long-standing orthodox view that all focal states are hereditary and therefore nothing affects focus after conception."
  2. "The public demands instantaneous sharp vision; i.e. Johnny can't read the black board and I won't stand for any nonsense about getting glasses that make it still fuzzier -- even temporarily."
  3. "The scientific understanding of the (normal) eye's development is not yet widely published, so there is always an excuse to ignore it."
  4. "There have been many non-scientific books about sight-without-glasses that have not logically argued the reasons, not given the physics background, nor have they discussed the biological mechanism. For example, eye exercises involve contracting the ciliary muscle, causing a nearer more myopic focus and, therefore, resulting in a negative change of focus for the eye."
  5. "If reading glasses were used at the onset of myopia, up to 90 percent of nearsightedness could be avoided. Furthermore, reading glasses should cost no more than $5.00 to $7.00 to manufacture and sell for $10.00 to $15.00 without a prescription."
  6. "Many optometrists and even some ophthalmologists believe that myopia and wearing glasses is not such a bad thing; after all, many people want to buy glasses in order to look chic. The very many that undergo the discomfort and expense of wearing contact lenses is an overwhelming vote to the contrary. People would rather not be nearsighted."
  7. "Finally, social pressure of intellectual achievement is forcing the age of first reading to an earlier, even preschool age, hence causing earlier myopia, and a potential for further progression."


"It is perhaps worth speculating why there has not been any prior recognition by the medical and optometry professions of the approach to the management of eyesight focus. I believe there are many additional 'reasons' but I have heard these:"
  1. "Nearsightedness is not a very severe handicap, and mostly those affected are studious anyhow and don't need distance vision."
  2. "It is not a problem for medicine and so medical doctors are not concerned."
  3. "If you don't want to be nearsighted, give up reading."
  4. "Negative lenses that correct nearsightedness are relatively cheap and easy to wear so why bother with another approach."
  5. "Glasses are a status symbol of the intellectual."
  6. "Contact lenses make nearsightedness even less of a problem."
  7. "Only recently has nearsightedness become a severe problem -- it is both more prevalent and, because of earlier onset, leads to progressive myopia."
  8. "Traditionally, medicine treats or cures the symptom and, only recently, is preventative medicine respected."
  9. "Only very recently is there a rational scientific explanation for the scientific observation of the developmental mechanism of the normal eye."
"Only the last statement is acceptable to me. So now that there is such a scientific basis, let's get on with the solution."


"Now I assume that you are young, 8 to 20 years old; have recently (within months) started or gone nearsighted and don't want to go on with thicker and thicker negative lenses for distant vision. You buy and wear positive lens reading glasses for all your reading -- or anything up close, and even for some of the rest of the time. You might get a bit of a headache at first; if so, decide which comes first -- the headache or myopia, and adjust the use of the positive lenses accordingly. Monitor your own mean relaxed focus, i.e., distance vision at least once a day.

"I may or may not be average but it took me only 2 weeks when I was 14 years old to return my initial myopia (about 20/80) to normal vision, i.e., (20/20) eyesight. (20/20 vision means that you can see at 20 feet what a "normal" person sees at 20 feet.) Twenty feet is almost the same as infinity; (20/80) vision is the start of myopia. I could see at 20 feet what good eyes could see at 80 feet. I was studious, slightly shy, introverted type -- which also included, fortunately for me, a course in physics at that age. That is when I first understood the simple facts about lenses and optics and the absurdity of using a negative lens when I was becoming nearsighted.

"I bought my own reading glasses in the dime store. They were plus 2.5 diopters and stronger than I needed, but they did the trick in a hurry. If you catch the start of myopia before the lens muscle spasm leads to irreversible lengthening of the eyeball (change of focal state), then it seems that the eyesight returns to 'normal' rapidly.

"If you make up your mind what value the mean relaxed focal distance you want in life, you can manage or lead your eye to that condition. When several times I lost my reading glasses during the war (World War II), I could not get them replaced by military optometrists because my glasses were not orthodox. I rapidly became myopic again; at 17 I read a lot in the Merchant Marine. I restored my vision to 20/20 as soon as I could purchase positive lens reading glasses when I returned to the States.

"During the war there was much social pressure to get into the officers' college training programs, but 20/20 was required. A few optometrists recognized the need and they prescribed positive lens glasses for myopic young people who desperately wanted to get into the Navy V-12 training program. This technique worked for many who were moderately myopic. An optometrist at Cornell was surprised that I had been doing this successfully since the age of 14.


  1. Nearsightedness prevention is possible -- if the work is done properly.
  2. You must have the internal competence and desire to do the job logically and consistently, and must have a compelling personal reason to want to succeed.
  3. The effort must be conducted as soon as the situation is detected (20/40, -1/2 diopter myopia)
  4. You must take the time to learn and understand the behavior of the normal eye.