Opposing Theories: Vision Training vs Optometry

If you have ever spoken to your optometrist or eye doctor about vision training you will know that they usually are of the opinion that Vision Training is a waste of time. So let’s explore how they see eyesight working.

Optometry and ophthalmology base their industry on the Helmholtz theory of accommodation (1855), which say that focusing or accommodation of the eyes is accomplished when the cilliery muscle located around the lens contract, then the lens will bulge out and become thicker. Thus the refractive powers of the eyes are supposed to adjust your vision to focus on close up objects. Helmholtz goes on to say that it is conceivable that near vision is aided by elongation of the eyeball as a whole produced by simultaneous contraction of all six eye muscles. However, Helmholtz does not think this action is needed.

Actual illustration from Helmholtz’s paper (1855) illustrating the action of the lens when the cilliar muscle contracts. Modern research, using ultra sound, have confirmed that the lens indeed do expand. However only between 100 or 20 microns which is not enough to account for the eyes ability to instantly change - 3.0 diopters when you shift from looking at the horizon to look at a book. Since the ciliary muscle can’t be trained, therefore Vision Training is not possible - end of story. Optometrists will sometimes defend their theory as the only option and reject any other approach.

Optometry is concerned about measuring your eyes to determine the refractive error in your focus. Glasses or contact lenses are prescribed in order to correct whatever refractive error is found. This works very well as long as you wear the glasses. However, when you remove the glasses you still can’t see.

The very purpose of optometry is to provide optic correction for your eyesight. Either in the form of glasses or various forms of contact lenses.

Today we also know that wearing glasses force the eye to adapt to the power of the lens you wear. So if the vision test is rushed you most likely end up with glasses that are too strong because your eyes adapted to the measuring equipment. So in essence your eyes has to return the to exact state they were in when they were measured. Most people have experienced this when they put on a new pair of glasses for the first time.

If you follow the suggestion of the optometrist to just get used to the stronger glasses you are in fact making your vision worse in order to adjust to the power of the lenses. So every time you get your eyes tested you may end up with stronger and stronger lens prescription. We know from numerous animal studies that shows lenses fitted on young animals alter the growth of the eyeball. Minus lenses cause the eye to elongate and therefore become more nearsighted. Plus lenses or magnifying glasses cause the eyeball the shrink and become more far sighted. In other words the lenses aggravate the very problem they are supposed to be solving.

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors specialising in the diseases of the eye and surgery. Their tools are drugs and surgery. Sometimes ophthalmologists will apply cycloplegic drugs to your eyes which paralyse the ciliary muscle and well as open up the iris to its fullest extent. This is done to remove any possibility of the eye to focus at all. So in fact you are getting a measurement of paralysed eyes. Vision training on the other hand is base on the idea that vision is learned as first proposed by Arthur Skeffington M.D. (the founder of the Optometric extension program (1928)). So if you apply this theory you can indeed train or restore a persons focusing ability. In resent years the idea of brain plasticity further confirm the idea that the brain can constantly learn and develop new skills. In fact my work with Vision Training has been mentioned in current books about brain plasticity (Norman (2014).

If you adhere to the Helmholtz 1855 theory as literal truth then vision training is not possible. However, we have moved beyond that a long time ago.


von Helmholtz, H., Mechanism of Accommodation Chapter 12, pp 123-124

Leo Angart



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