Focus Distance

Ever since I was little, I liked to see what I could do with my eyes. Cross them (which I learned from Mom), shake them (which I learned from a fellow fourth-grader), focus and de-focus them (which I think I’ve been doing since I was three or so).
I am 36 and have managed to avoid needing glasses so far, but I wonder how much longer I can go. I think my Mom made it to about 40, and I’ve heard that your lenses harden gradually, with 40 marking about the limit at which you can focus both close-up and far away under your own power. The question I have is this: can you postpone reading glasses by exercising your lenses? Does flexing them deliberately have any effect on their pliability? I have been habitually de-focusing (blurring) my eyes every few minutes or seconds, for years, perhaps with that hope in the back of my mind. Does anybody else do that?
Here’s a test: what are the limits of my focusing? I can see far away clearly, but how close can I go? I remember it was as little as two or three inches once upon a time, but I’m sure it’s much less now.
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Seven inches. Same in both my right and left eyes. Maybe 6 3/4 on the right. Any closer and I lose sharpness. I’m surprised—I didn’t think I could still focus that close.
I should keep track of it—it might make a cool graph.
I heard that one of my male ancestors (maybe my Dad’s Dad’s Dad?) kept holding books farther and farther from his face when he read, until he got to arm’s length and couldn’t hold them any farther. At which point he relented and got reading glasses.
Do other people do that de-focusing thing? I asked Georgia and Maya; Georgia (age 8) didn’t know what I meant—the only thing she thought of was squinting. But Maya (age 5) did, and demonstrated by getting a vacant look on her face for a moment. I encouraged her to keep up the skill (de-focusing; not looking vacant).

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5 Responses to Focus Distance

  1. Billy says:

    Bahiyyih: 6 1/2 and 6 1/4, with glasses on. 5 and 4 1/2 inches with glasses off (she’s near-sighted).

  2. Heather says:

    Oh man. This really makes me wish I had a ruler with me right now. I’ll have to measure later and report back.

  3. Sherri says:

    As my mom put it, she got glasses because her arms got too short 🙂

  4. M@ says:

    You can do the shakey eye-thing too? I forget when I figured out how to do it, but I’ve never had the opportunity to see another do it.

    More stupid eye tricks: Moving them independantly —

    • roll one while keeping the other
      mostly stationary
    • ping pong (easy to start if you look cross-eyed, then look right or left, then go back to cross-eyed & look the other direction)

    Do you have more? I’m sure there’s a counter-culture on the internet devoted to stupid eye tricks, though I’ve yet to come accross one

  5. Michael says:

    A couple of years ago I spoke with someone I worked with back in the PLATO years, Dave Kinney. He said that he had successfully avoided needing glasses, against all advice for decades now, by exercising his eyes frequently. If I remember correctly, he employed de-focusing and focusing repeatedly. He also focused as close as he could and gently swept his vision to the furthest thing he could see, keeping focused or pausing until he was re-focused, and then back. I wish you luck, avoiding glasses! I am not convinced I needed them when I got them, but am dependent upon them now because they changed my focusing ability. If I drive on the highway I take glasses off and try to read signs without, but the only result is that now my eyes don’t hurt when I do it, I can’t focus any better than before. I have been reading some prayers without glasses for years, but it is slow going, it really helps to be used to scriptural English, and those prayers that are more unfamiliar I read glacially slow (is that an “endangered idiom?”) and sometimes resort to momentary glasses wearing. In short — I don’t think you can go back, so do the work now BEFORE you need the glasses, and if you have to get them use them only when you have to for as long as possible.

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