This eye glass shaped trinket from Peru (brought to me by a patient who often travels there), with its mystical claims to improve vision, brought back memories of other methods over the years that have promised to improve vision without glasses.
Yogis have been teaching asansas (postures) and exercises for centuries to improve eyesight naturally. At a talk I gave at Pure Yoga (our neighbors), I explained that yogic eye exercises are excellent not only for mental relaxation, but could also improve blood circulation to the eyes. However, there is no evidence that these exercises can actually improve vision.
In the 19th century, physician William Bates developed The Bates Method, a series of eye exercises designed to cure near-sightedness. Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) used them to try to improve his terrible vision, and described the experience in his 1942 book THE ART OF SEEING.
In the early 1990s, the Accommotrac® Vision Trainer was introduced, a biofeedback instrument for tracking overuse and relaxation of the focusing muscles.
Later in the 1990s, the See Clearly Method began heavily advertising an exercise program for improving vision naturally (In 2006, it was forced to stop advertising for making false claims).
Some of these methods makes sense on paper. However, scientific studies have not found that these or other “natural” methodologies can reliably improve or reverse myopia.
It wouldn’t surprise me that someday in the future, we’ll find effective new ways of improving vision without lenses. Until then, a nice pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses will do just fine.