Can my myopia be reversed?

I have severe myopia.

Before I got sick in 2018, I always wore contact lenses. Over time, I was prescribed stronger and stronger lenses.

Going ever further back in time: When I was four, I got my first glasses, at -3 they started I believe. And between age four and twelve, my myopia progressed from -3 to -6. In my teens, it progressed even further, to -9, -10.

My last glasses, prescribed by an optometrist, are -14/-11. Here’s a screenshot from the order of my old glasses.

Why I never wear the last glasses I was prescribed

They give me a headache. I see too sharp. Sure, for long distance, like driving a car, they’re great. Except.. we don’t have a car. And I always do indoors computer work. So, I never wear them. Instead, for over a year, I’ve worn my old glasses.

When I remarked this to my optometrist, they didn’t get it. They made me take off my glasses, measured again and insisted that I needed the higher prescription.

It gets worse. During my last check-up, the optometrist measured this

I tried to tell them: look, I can see everything with the last glasses you prescribed me. And I get a headache doing indoors/close-up work, so much that I am wearing my old glasses for close-up work. You cannot possibly be giving me an even higher prescription! Nope. They ignored me. The machine had measured it, so it must be true. I am getting really frustrated with people in healthcare not listening to me. What is up with that? Is it me?

I could try to talk to them as much as I wanted, they ignored my statement that I can read the chart with the -14 glasses. I said “Look, listen, I can read the bottom letters: K, D, E, L..”. The optometrist didn’t even look up from their computer where they were entering the new data they had just measured. They had measured -16 and they were going to enter -16 and I could spontaneously combust for all they cared. I talked about it in the podcast, healthcare has become myopic (lol). If the machine says X, we don’t do critical thinking anymore.

I had a second measurement done. Something else came out. -15.5 or something.. Joep’s sister confirmed to me that she had found research papers that state that optometrists’ measurements often deviate from one optometrist to the next. Measurements were done at multiple optometrists and even a hostpital, and different results came out.

I was already thinking about getting a referral to the hospital to have an eye checkup. Like I wrote in a previous post, I keep waiting for other people to refer me out of their own accord. It never happens. I have to start asking for it. So I asked for a referral. Of course, with the corona virus, everything is canceled.

But that’s okay. Now I have time to think.

First of all, at the hospital, I am not going to move a millimeter, before they agree to measure my eyes with my -14 glasses first. No, you cannot put eyedrops in my eyes and make me take off my glasses. First you measure my eyes with these glasses. That’ll force them not to skip over what I am trying to tell them.

n=1

I am the only person in my entire family with more than mild myopia. Sure, someone has reading glasses, somewhere. But neither my parents, not my brother, nor my grandparents have severe myopia. They don’t even have moderate myopia! Sure, my mom had glasses for, like -0.25 once. And my brother has a set for 0.5. But not -16 like I do. It’s said to be all generics, and well.. I could have inherited just this combination of genes that just happens to push me to -14. But I don’t believe in such ‘coincidences’ anymore. It doesn’t add up.

Furthermore, when I was prescribed my first glasses at age four, I remember taking them off when I was going to draw. I was going to do something close by and I instinctively took them off, because I could see sharp at small distances. But someone, I don’t remember who, a teacher maybe, admonished me: No, you have to keep them on! I remember being startled. I startled easily and emotions will definitely burn memories into your brain. Part of me didn’t agree, but I didn’t dare disobey. Disobedience, even normal childhood development like saying ‘no’ and asking ‘why’ was met with dismissal at best or being attacked in rage at worst.

Whenever I was prescribed new glasses, I had to go through a period of adjusting. Every single time, everything was painfully sharp. I remember saying once, as a kid: “These glasses are making my eyes worse!”. It was shrugged off. I didn’t mention it again. But I remembered.

My eyesight deteriorated further during my period of illness in 2018/2019. My sugar levels were out of whack at first. I’ll explain why this is relevant later.

People always remarked that I was squinting behind the computer. I’ve discovered, by moving back and forth, that my -12 glasses are also too strong for computer work. I have to move wayyyy back before the screen becomes blurry. I can only conclude this: My eyes have been severely overcorrected my entire life.

Why I decided to undercorrect my myopia

Today, I received new sets of glasses. I ordered them online. Wayyy cheaper than when I would buy them at the optometrist. For like, 110 dollars each, instead of the 600-800 euros I’d pay here. I now have four sets of glasses. All have the same cylinder, axis and PD. What differs is their diopters, their strength.

When I use themLeft eyeRight eye
Never-11-14
Watching TV-9.25-12
Working on the computer -8.25 -11
Reading a book-7.25-10

I found a website online that claims you can reduce your myopia. It’s controversial and the website is a mess. But there are some bits and pieces that are interesting. I’ve googled a bit and found two papers that are interesting to me.

Near Work–Induced Transient Myopia (NITM)

Fifteen early-onset myopes (EOMs), 14 late-onset myopes (LOMs), and 15 emmetropes (EMMs), as well as progressive myopes (PMs) and stable myopes (SMs), were tested. Subjects read binocularly for 2 hours at a distance of 35 to 40 cm. Distance refractive state of the right eye was assessed every 2 seconds for 30 seconds after the first hour of reading, and then every 2 seconds for 120 seconds after the second hour of reading. NITM was calculated as the difference in posttask distance refractive state compared with the pretask distance refractive state after each hour.

EOMs and LOMs demonstrated larger NITM than the EMMs and exhibited NITM additivity, but the EOMs also exhibited prolonged decay of NITM compared with the EMMs and LOMs. PMs, but not SMs, exhibited additivity of NITM. These findings may be attributed to impaired sympathetic function in the subjects with myopia. It is speculated that with repeated cycles of near work, residual NITM may contribute to the progression of permanent myopia.

Vasudevan, B., & Ciuffreda, K. J. (2008). Additivity of Near Work–Induced Transient Myopia and Its Decay Characteristics in Different Refractive Groups. Investigative Opthalmology & Visual Science49(2), 836. doi: 10.1167/iovs.07-0197

I am an early-onset myope (EOM). And I work behind a computer all day, every day, and have done so since my twenties. School work in my teens is also close-up work. Playing outdoors gradually decreased as the garden was first used to house the dog and then paved over. So, I could definitely be sustaining ‘transient myopia’. I am now thinking this: Whenever an optometrist measured, I still had NITM. They would conclude that my myopia has gotten worse. Then I got new glasses, and I was essentially being overcorrected. How does the body respond? I wouldn’t be surprised if this then drove my body to go “Hey, we’re made for close-up work and that’s not possible anymore. Let’s grow our eyeball longer!”

Then there’s this:

Is myopia another clinical manifestation of insulin resistance?

Furthermore, we discuss several possible mechanisms by which insulin resistance may promote abnormal ocular growth and myopia to support the hypothesis that insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia are involved in its pathogenesis, providing a link between trends in myopia and those of cardiometabolic diseases. 

Galvis, V., López-Jaramillo, P., Tello, A., Castellanos-Castellanos, Y. A., Camacho, P. A., Cohen, D. D., … Merayo-Lloves, J. (2016). Is myopia another clinical manifestation of insulin resistance? Medical Hypotheses90, 32–40. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2016.02.006

As I mentioned, my blood sugar got out of whack while I was sick. My eyesight deteriorated between 2015 and now. In 2015 I got got my -12 glasses prescribed and got sterilized which later led to complications. Those complications probably started growing immediately after surgery. So, in 3 years time, my eyesight deteriorated from -12 to -14 (and now even -16) so that’s more than 2 diopters. And I’m 35! Your eyesight should be stabilizing as you age. The fact that it doesn’t, suggests that this may not just be genetic. It may very well be environmental. Something is driving my myopia to keep progressing. I don’t believe in magic thinking anymore. There is a root cause. For sure.

I’ve requested my full file from my optometrist with all measurement from my early twenties to now. I even e-mailed my old optometrist from my childhood and teens, who probably doesn’t have my records anymore but who knows. I decided to try. Maybe I can make a graph of how my myopia progressed over my lifetime.

Now comes the question. Can it be reversed? Some papers say no. Some people online say they have been successful. I decided to go for it. What do I have to lose? There is glaucoma on my mother’s side of the family, I already have all the risks of retinal detachment and whatnot. My eyesight is already so horrible any change in diopters, upwards or downwards by one or even two points, won’t make a dent in my current risk profile.

So, here goes. I am working with my new computer glasses right now. Let’s see what happens.

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