Friday, December 6, 2013

The Possible Benefits of Reading Glasses


In 2010, I was interested about the causes of myopia (short-sightedness) because I had noticed that my vision was getting a little bit worse during the high school.

After doing some searches, I came across Finnish ophthalmologist Kaisu Viikari’s website. Born in 1922, she is still actively working on her book projects. She has published some new material during the last years, but her most important book Panacea was published in 1978.

The theory

According to Viikari, our eyes are not well-adapted to close work.

When we are indoors, staring at the books and computer monitor, our eyes focus on the close distance, causing some strain on the ciliary muscle. The medical term for this is accommodation.

Viikari argues that excessive amount of this kind of strain can fatigue the ciliary muscle, causing a spasm - muscle’s unability to return to the relaxed state.

In her book, Viikari presents a lot of data showing that starting reading at an early age, or having a job that requires a lot of close work, are associated with myopia and some stress-related problems such as migraine and high blood pressure.

The cure

Plus lenses directly decrease the eyes’ need for accommodation. For the eyes, reading a book with reading glasses is quite a similar experience as watching into the distance, because both require minimal amount of accommodation.

Plus lenses are very a very cheap investment. Here in Finland, the price is usually about 3 euros, which equals to 5 dollars.

Some clinical data: Migraine

In her book Panacea (1978, page 166), Viikari provides some positive results of 100 consecutive migraine patients in her eye clinic.

- 56 got symptom-free
- 14 much better
- 8 better
- 8 “treatment interrupted / did not follow instructions
- 14 no answer

My own experience

I spend many hours a day reading books and articles. I’ve noticed that using +2 lenses makes it significantly easier for the eyes.

Yesterday, I also started using +1 lenses constantly during other indoor activities to see whether it could yield some additional benefit. I’ll report the results later, but at this point I can say that the acute effect is that my eyes feel more relaxed while wearing the glasses.

After starting Viikari’s method three years ago, I saw a slight reversal of my mild myopia. Since that, the situation has not changed.


Viikari’s books can be downloaded for free on her homepage:
- Panacea (1978) --- a review
- Learn to Understand & Prevent Myopia (2011) --- a review

See also: Youtube - Myopia: A Modern Yet Reversible Disease — Todd Becker, M.S. (AHS14)


  1. I've been doing similar experiments. Since I found the reading glasses a bit annoying, and most of my "close work" is on a desktop computer, I instead pushed my computer monitor much further away. It seems to have worked well, greatly decreasing what I suspect is accommodation-strain at the end of a long day.

    I think doing so might have slowed/stopped some rapid myopia progression, though I've made too many lifestyle changes to be sure.

  2. One of the awesome information about the Possible Benefits of Reading Glasses.Thanks for your great information about it.

    Reading Glasses

  3. You seem to have stumbled upon the correct way of improving eyesight. I first started on my vision improvement journey over a year ago when I read Todd Becker's post on the subject ( Since then, I've improved my vision to slightly better than 20/20 (starting from probably 20/100 or so). The key to further progress is to gradually use stronger plus lenses, and to push yourself to read text that's somewhat blurry. Good luck!

    1. Hi Josh,

      Thanks for the interesting anecdote, and for the link. I hadn't heard about Becker's blog before, but it seems that he has written many interesting articles. :)

  4. Close up reading used to be something that gave me headaches. Until my sister pointed out that reading glasses might help with that, I thought it was just apart of life. It took me a lot longer the correct the problem then it should have. Now that I have been using them for a number of years, I can't believe I used to read without them.

  5. I use pinhole glasses, they work for me and are said to strengthen eyes.