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Posted on 08-07-2013

Originally posted on May 21st, 2012

Lenses, Part 2

Lenses can have a tremendous impact on the well-being of people of all ages, especially children.  I say especially children because lenses can stimulate development of the visual system and help prevent some visual problems from occurring, even more so when used in conjunction with vision therapy.  The importance of proper lenses becomes even more critical as we move further and further through the computer age with its accompanying increased demands and stress placed upon the visual process.  In some cases, even without vision therapy, proper lenses can provide a significant boost in performance for many people of all ages.

Lenses can be used to prevent or counteract negative responses to visual stress.  Most eye doctors will tell you that lenses are only used to correct eyesight problems like nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness or astigmatism.  Behavioral optometrists have understood for many decades that lenses can do much more.  Common belief holds that only people over forty need glasses for reading or computer work.  This is merely an easy assumption.  There is no scientific evidence that this is true.  Many behavioral optometrists see things very differently.  The different philosophy is a result of many decades and many tens of thousands of successful patients.

Behavioral optometrists often have a very different understanding of how lenses can improve development, comfort and long-term visual performance.

Many behavioral optometrists understand that properly prescribed reading lenses provide a substantial increase in effectiveness while greatly reducing the visual stress inherent in prolonged close work for people of all ages.  We know this because we have done it both ways.  Every behavioral optometrist who believes in the power of lenses to affect positive change has experience with using lenses to compensate for eyesight problems.  I am quite certain that no doctor who tells you lenses can only be used to compensate has ever tried using lenses for anything else.

You probably know the old saying, “When your only tool is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.”  A lens is a tool.  It is always best to use the most appropriate tool for a particular job.  It is possible to hammer a nail into the wall with a sledge hammer.  It is possible, but not advisable.  This becomes even more important if you are planning to hammer many nails into the wall.  Chances are pretty good you’ll miss a few times and you’re likely to put a few holes in the wall.  It’s also a good bet your arm will get very tired.  You could easily cause long term damage to various parts of your body if you keep at it long enough.  Using a more appropriate, smaller hammer will enable you to pound away almost endlessly with less fatigue and greater accuracy.

Lenses provide a safe yet powerful means of influencing human behavior on many levels.

Lenses designed for nothing more than seeing clearly in the distance are similar to the sledge hammer.  They are an actual tool, but only appropriate for specific tasks.  There is no doubt that such lenses will help you see clearly at the distance they were designed for.  These lenses will also allow you to see clearly at most other distances if you are under the age of forty or so.  This in no way implies that these lenses are appropriate for use at all distances.  Distance lenses are never the most appropriate tool for what most of us do most of the time.  This means that if we are wearing distance lenses all day long we are not using the appropriate tool for the job at hand.

What is the job at hand and why does it matter what lenses we are wearing?

The most common job for most of us involves using the visual system for close work.  Close work consists of any task that is done within arm’s reach or so.  Distance lenses are prescribed based on the clarity of sight at twenty feet and so are only appropriate for tasks done at that distance.  That is the standard and that is what the vast majority of eye doctors do.  Most doctors will not tell you this because they have not developed their philosophy beyond the early thinking of optometrists many years ago.  And most doctors will remain comfortable with that philosophy until patients everywhere begin to demand a higher level of care like that provided by behavioral optometrists.

Wearing distance lenses for close work puts excessive stress on the visual system.  Visual stress causes stress to other parts of the body and leads to increased fatigue, decreased efficiency and often leads to symptoms at some point.  These symptoms include headaches, neck ache, eye discomfort, dry eyes and possibly more serious visual problems.  The symptoms may not appear for months or even years in some cases.  It is better not to wait for the symptoms and discomfort to appear.  It is better to take advantage of preventive care.  This is especially true when the preventive care is so simple.  Many people can avoid all these problems by working with a behavioral optometrist and getting lenses that are most appropriate for the work they do.

Next time:  Lenses – Part 3  What is visual stress and why won’t it leave me alone?

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