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


January 3, 1999

Dear Fellow Pilot,

This book describes the practical efforts you must make to achieve vision restoration from 20/70 (-1.0 Diopters) to normal. I am reluctant to claim that more than this is achievable. We all go through the 20/40 to 20/70 stage in the process of becoming myopic. It makes a great deal of sense to understand the critical either-or decision you must make at this point. Eye-professionals are obligated to supply you with sufficient information so that you will understand the consequences of choosing the wrong approach. Your eyes belong to you and you will be stuck with the consequences if you choose the minus-lens method. It is very difficult to reverse nearsightedness that has been made worse by a minus lens. Our responsibility is to help you and your children understand and use the proper method. Our goal is to supply the supporting rationale for prevention before the situation gets out of hand. Pages 21-23 describe the difficulties that an eye doctor might have in assisting you with this preventive approach.

Since the publication of the first edition, I have seen a friend recover from 20/320 (-4.5 diopters) of nearsightedness -- as reported in this book. You will find out the extent of your own recovery by actually implementing the preventive approach described in this book.

THE FIRST STEP: Open the book to pages 142 and 143. These pages contain the standard eye chart. Xerox the pages so you will have additional eye charts for your use. Now tape them on a wall so you can read the chart at 20 feet. If you find 20 feet too difficult, read the chart at 10 feet, and multiply the line by two. (In other words, if you read the 20/20 line at 10 feet, your vision is actually 20 x 2 =3D 40, or 20/40.) With both eyes read the lowest line possible. Write the line down with the date for future reference. You must read 4 out of 5 characters to pass the line. Now check each eye individually. If you are less than 20/100 with both eyes, recovery may be difficult. If you are at 20/40 or 20/30, recovery could be achieved in a matter of weeks. Now read the book.

The book concerns itself with scientific proof of the dynamic behavior of the eye. However, the only proof you are interested in, is your own ability to get yourself out of nearsightedness (i.e., to change your focal state from 20/70 to 20/20). When you achieve this, you will have demonstrated the most important fact about myopia to yourself -- that prevention works when you carry out the process in a consistent, logical manner. May successful results attend your efforts!


Ophthalmologists, optometrists and research workers are responsible for the second opinion presented in this book, that nearsightedness (myopia) is as much, if not greatly more, due to environment (and avoidable) than heredity (unavoidable).

The essence of avoiding myopia is using a plus lens (a mild magnifying glass, as in reading glasses required by older people) before the eye becomes seriously nearsighted.

If the approach advocated in this book is to work properly, you must take full responsibility to develop a clear understanding of the normal eye's behavior. In addition, you must personally implement the practical method of prevention.

In this situation we can only offer the student of science an accurate picture of existing practices, as well as an education about the fundamental behavioral characteristic of the normal eye. This approach will put you in full control of your visual welfare.

The author has demonstrated a depth of understanding of the problems and limits that occur in existing health practice. With good judgment, and personal effort, it is highly probable that you can avoid nearsightedness.

Paul E. Romano M.D., M.S.O.
Professor of Ophthalmology,
University of Florida, Gainesville


Over the past thirty years I have made an exhaustive effort to review the experimental data that allows us to accurately judge the eye's behavior.

In this effort I have met many fine individuals working in the diverse fields of engineering, ophthalmology, aeronautical education, optometry, and scientific research. In addition, I have been assisted by many friends who have patiently reviewed this analysis and engaged in much discussion and review. The writing of this book was possible only with the assistance of the following individuals:

Paul Romano, MD, University of Florida
Peter Greene, PhD, Harvard University
Karel Montor, PhD, The United States Naval Academy
Dave Guyton, MD, Johns Hopkins University
Alfred Sommers, MD, Johns Hopkins Hospital
James Tielsch, MD, Johns Hopkins Hospital
Lawrence Stark, MD, PhD, Research Scientist
Vera Rollo, PhD, Author, Flight Instructor
William Ludlam, OD, Research Optometrist
Francis Young, PhD, Research Psychologist
Alan Shotwell, OD, Research Optometrist
Stirling Colgate, PhD, Research Scientist, Los Alamos
Howard Howland, PhD, Research Scientist, Cornell University
Maurice Brumer, OD, Research Optometrist
Brian Severson, Professional Pilot
Ron Berger, OD, Child Diagnostics and Treatments Associates

And last, but most important, I gratefully acknowledge Carol Brown's support. She has borne with patience the almost endless academic discussions about the normal eye's behavior that led to this book.


It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. - The Christophers

It is a pleasure to produce the second edition of this book. While many scientists are convinced as to the accuracy of the facts presented in this book, we could not be certain that pilots of less experience could get the proper insight, work with the plus lens, and ultimately clear their distance vision to normal.

This book details the practical efforts that you must make in order to achieve vision restoration from 20/50 to 20/20. I cannot claim that more than this is achievable, although Dr. Stirling Colgate states that he was able to recover from 20/80. You will find out the extent of your own recovery by actually implementing the preventative procedure described in this book.


This book is designed for use by two groups of individuals; the research scientist who is willing to develop a thorough understanding of the fundamental behavior characteristic of the normal eye, and the person, for example a would-be pilot, entering a four-year academic institution, who wishes to be visually qualified upon graduation. It is also of interest to parents of school-age children.

It is possible to avoid nearsightedness. Recovery from nearsightedness has been successfully accomplished, for example by Stirling Colgate, a scientist who developed a clear understanding of the normal eye's behavior. It is, however, almost impossible to recover from anything more than a slight amount of nearsightedness. Because of the difficulties of recovery, it is important that you clearly understand the scientific basis for this alternative approach.

This alternative has been developed over the past three decades by the eye care profession and is currently practiced by twenty percent of the profession. The practice requires the use of a plus-lens (bifocal) for children who are slightly nearsighted. This development (of the second-opinion) encourages us to look more deeply into scientific experiments that resolve the normal eye's behavior.


Open the book to last several pages. These pages contain a standard eye chart. Xerox the pages so you have additional eye charts for your use. Now tape them on a wall so you can read the chart at 20 feet. With both eyes read the lowest line possible. Write the value down. You must read 4 out of 5 characters to "pass" the line. Now check each eye individually. If you are less than 20/70 with both eyes, recovery will be difficult. If you are at 20/30 or 20/40, recovery could be achieved in a matter of weeks.


This book explores three major scientific subjects:
  1. What practical steps must you take to avoid nearsightedness? (Chapter One to Three) Is the method effective? (Chapter Eleven)
  2. How does the natural eye behave when it is actually tested? (Chapters Four to Seven)
  3. Why must the natural eye function as a dynamic system, rather than as a passive system? (Chapters Eight to Ten)
This book will help you understand how the eye behaves under direct experimental control. After you understand this behavior, you can then begin to devise a strategy to successfully avoid nearsightedness.


This book is based on directly-obtained experimental data. The facts clearly define the behavior characteristics of all natural eyes.

When the eye is placed in a confined visual environment, or wears a negative lens, (such as is currently being prescribed for nearsightedness) the normal eye will change its focal state in a negative direction. When the normal eye is placed in an open environment, or wears a plus lens, the focal state of the eye will change in a positive direction -- thus achieving successful myopia avoidance. Both theoretical analysis and direct experimental testing has confirmed this fundamental behavior characteristic of the natural eye. (The plus and minus lenses will be thoroughly discussed later in this book.)

The concept of the eye's behavior presented in this book is technical in nature. However, I feel that most readers will be able to understand most of the analysis. A detailed understanding requires a engineering background. If you develop this insight, you will be able understand the nature of the normal eye's behavior. The student of science will eventually be able to do this. For this reason I have not excessively simplified the scientific presentation.

If you will make the appropriate effort to understand the eye's behavior, you will eventually be rewarded by your own successful effort to defeat nearsightedness.


The outlook of this book follows the English (Scientific) Royal Society's Motto, "Nullus in Verba", which has been best translated as, "Take nobody's word for it; see for yourself." The first step in learning to make a scientific judgment is to learn to make your own decisions, based on your own measurements.

Your eyes belong to you, and you must control your own visual future. The only way to make a responsible decision is by being cognizant of your focal state. With this knowledge you can act effectively to control the behavior of your eyes.


A standard eye chart is included in the back of the book. You should use this chart to confirm your current focal status. A reading of 20/60 or 20/70 is not disastrous. You should, however, take this situation as a warning and consider the alternative. Even if you read the chart at 20/20, there is no guarantee that after four years of study and close work you will graduate with 20/20. At the United States Naval Academy approximately 30 percent of the entering class are disqualified from flying due to failure to read the 20/20 line upon graduation!


Because ophthalmologists are aware of existing experimental studies, they have strongly suggested that prevention is the best solution for the problem of nearsightedness. Unfortunately, this recommendation has never been effectively presented and acted upon. Although the correct solution is known, the methodology of prevention has never been implemented.

There is direct testimony as to the effectiveness of the use of a positive (plus) lens to control the negative focal state of the natural eye. Many children and adults can help themselves if the principles in this book are properly understood and applied.


Dr. Stirling Colgate, a research scientist with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, correctly deduced the behavior of the normal eye, and began using a plus 2.5 diopter lens to reverse the effect of a confined environment on his eyes. By doing this, he successfully recovered from a slight amount of myopia.

"Fortunately, I understood most of this for myself when I was studying biology and physics when I was 14. I first started to become nearsighted at 13 to 14. As soon as I noticed it, I immediately acted upon it by buying a pair of reading (farsightedness) glasses, (positive lenses), at the dime store. I used these for reading. A positive lens substitutes for further contraction of the ciliary muscle; thereby allowing the eye focus to remain in the relaxed state of infinity when reading a book up close. Within several weeks my eyesight had returned to normal -- relaxed state of focus at infinity."

"Since I am a physicist I am not dependent upon optometry or ophthalmology for my professional peer group. I have managed my own eyesight all during my life (now 63). I have undertaken to try to explain this because I believe that the condition of myopia (and then having to wear nearsighted glasses for life) is totally unnecessary for the majority of the human race. I believe that the condition of progressive myopia is a grotesque and needless distortion of human physiology, created by our intellectual environment of reading and continued because of our collective denial of that very intellect."


If a fourteen-year-old can figure out how to act effectively to avoid myopia then you should be able to duplicate his successful preventive effort.

This book contains a detailed scientific and engineering assessment of the normal eye's behavior. If you wish to develop a complete understanding of eye's behavior under testable conditions, then review Chapters Four through Ten. The previous discussions about problems of the eye have been qualitative. A qualitative statement is very difficult to test in a scientific sense, and often has imbedded bias and assumptions. These arguments (about the cause of the defective eye) have not led to a clear understanding of the normal eye's behavior. To encompass a full and accurate understanding of the eye it is necessary to develop a precise quantitative model of the eye's behavior.

It is always difficult to develop a book that advocates change in existing medical practices. However, if we are ever to come to grips with a major scientific problem, we must be willing to generate criticism of existing practices so that at least a few of us will have the opportunity to effectively defeat the problem of nearsightedness.

This book applies only to nearsightedness that is preventable. You should consult with an ophthalmologist or optometrist if you think that the blur at a distance is a result of a diseased condition such as detached retina, glaucoma, etc. After you are assured your problem has to do only with the refractive state of your eyes, you should proceed with the preventive approach recommended in this book.