Edit:

I might not have worded my question well enough. A shorter and more direct version would be:

  1. Can nearsightedness be just a result of eyes getting accustomed to working at very close distances most of the time?
  2. If so, can it be possible to revert that adjustment by wearing anti-corrective glasses to make those short distances seem longer?
  3. Can wearing anti-corrective glasses potentially cause any long lasting eyesight damage?

Original question:

I had pretty much perfect eyesight till about 13 years, at which point I started using computers a lot. Since then my eyesight seems to have been degrading slowly, which is probably related. By the age of 18 I had about 1.0 nearsightedness. However, after the following 7 years of university and a very computer-bound job, I think it hasn't even reached 1.5, even though I was using computers much more than before. It's like it degrades just enough to accommodate for regularly staring at a screen, not even half a meter away at times.

That made me wonder. Sitting further away from monitors just isn't practical most of the time, even though I can see everything fine from at least twice the usual distance, but what if I started wearing farsighted glasses in front of computer instead? The screen would look like it's further away, so logically my eyes should not have to get used to looking at such close objects.

Does it even make sense? Am I missing something? Can trying that hurt my eyesight somehow? It seems like it should work, but I could not find any related info.

Note

This answer is not a substitute for medical advice and medical advice questions are off-topic here. If you have concerns about your eyesight you must speak to your optometrist (or ophthalmologist if you are under their treatment).

Question 1 - Can nearsightedness be just a result of eyes getting accustomed to working at very close distances most of the time?

In people with short-sightedness, the eye has usually grown slightly too long.

This means that when you look at distant objects, the light isn't focused directly on to your retina, but a short distance in front of it.

myopic eye shape below normal eye shape
Image source: WebMD - What Is Myopia

The NHS website has a good set of pages about myopia (short-sightedness) where it is found that

Spending a lot of time focusing your eyes on nearby objects, such as reading, writing and possibly using hand-held devices (phones and tablets) and computers can increase your risk of developing short-sightedness.

However, myopia cannot be halted permanently.

Short-sightedness usually stops getting worse at around the age of 20.

There's currently no single treatment available that appears to stop this progression.

But it may be slowed by treatments involving eye drops of a medication called atropine, or special contact lenses.

Research has shown that atropine eye drops can slow the progression of short-sightedness, but it can cause side effects at high strengths (such as difficulty reading and sensitivity to bright light). (Source: NHS - Myopia Treatment)

Questions 2 and 3 regarding anti-corrective glasses to make those short distances seem longer

As highlighted by the Mayo Clinic, it is a myth that wearing eyeglasses that have the wrong prescription will damage the eyes, but it may make your vision worse and cause other problems such as headaches.

Eyeglasses change the light rays that the eye receives. They do not change any part of the eye itself. Wearing glasses that are too strong or otherwise wrong for the eyes cannot harm an adult's, although it might result in a temporary headache. At worse, the glasses will fail to correct vision and make the wearer uncomfortable because of blurriness, but no damage to any part of the eye will result.

The use of so called anti-corrective lenses is a topic of discussion in many blogs but I would heed caution on taking advice from blogs.

There have been scientific studies on "undercorrection" of myopia in children (Chung, et al. 2002) which found that it enhances rather than inhibits myopia progression.

How to slow down, and maybe halt progression of myopia

If you use computer screens over a long period each day, especially if you do so as part of your job, wearing the correct prescribed eyewear would be the best thing to do.

Employers must provide and pay for eyesight tests and any resulting prescription where requested by the employer in law under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 here in the UK, and in the European Union under Council Directive 90/270/EEC of 29 May 1990. Employers must also ensure that employees take regular and adequate breaks from looking at their screens.

This applies whether you work at home, hotdesk at different locations or workstations, or work at a fixed workstation.

The Heath and Safety Executive website points out that

The law says employers must arrange an eye test for display screen equipment (DSE) users if they ask for one, and provide glasses if an employee needs them only for DSE use. DSE work does not cause permanent damage to eyes. But long spells of DSE work can lead to:

  • tired eyes
  • discomfort
  • temporary short-sightedness
  • headaches

DSE work is visually demanding, so it can make someone aware of eyesight problems they have not noticed before (including changes in eyesight that happen with age).

Employees can help their eyes by:

  • checking the screen is well positioned and properly adjusted
  • making sure lighting conditions are suitable
  • taking regular breaks from screen work

More can be read on this via the main page at http://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/dse

References

Chung, K., Mohidin, N., & O’Leary, D. J. (2002). Undercorrection of myopia enhances rather than inhibits myopia progression. Vision research, 42(22), 2555-2559. doi: 10.1016/S0042-6989(02)00258-4 PubMed: 12445849

  • Thanks for the advice, but you haven't quite answered my question. I reworded it for easier understanding. In fact, your answer and that rewording effort did help me to figure out the Google query that I needed. English isn't my native language, so I didn't think to call prescription lenses "corrective", and thus ones I wanted to try "anti-corrective". – EvgEnZh Dec 6 at 13:36
  • Again, thanks for the effort. I do, however, prefer to refer to the actual research and try to understand it. I saw that article by Chung, et al., it was referenced by the IRDT article. By the way, IRDT is an attempt at creating a unified theory of permanent myopia and hyperopia development, not some kind of cure method as you seemed to think at least at first. It actually makes quite a bit of sense. However, it mainly deals with children, as the effects described should have greatly diminishing effects when eye growth slows down, which is consistent with your "Myopia stops at 20" quote. – EvgEnZh Dec 9 at 3:41
  • Anyway, about that "Undercorrection worsens myopia" research article. I think they might have misinterpreted their results. If you look closely at their dioptres vs time chart, you might notice that their interpolated graphs are misleading. According to the actual data points, the gap between the two groups grows from 0 to almost .2 in the first 6 month, but in the following 6 months it actually decreases to almost .15. In the next 6mo the gap doubles to .3, yet in the last 6 months it drops to a little above .2. Now consider that those children attended school for about 9 months a year. – EvgEnZh Dec 9 at 3:53
  • A very obvious conclusion that comes to my mind is that 2 of the 4 6-month intervals contained about 3 months of summer vacation, and the other 2 didn't. Which are which is unclear, as the article doesn't specify any dates. Those 3 month of wearing undercorrected or proper glasses in conditions very different to those of 9 months of school year seem to have done enough good or bad to counteract the 3 months of school in the same interval, plus some extra. Therefore, it would be either better to wear proper glasses at school and undercorrected, or none, outside it, or vice versa. – EvgEnZh Dec 9 at 4:04
  • As for the blog you warn not to trust (not linking it here again, for now), it actually looks like the author knows what he is talking about, or most of it at least. (Does not necessarily mean he does.) He even describes himself temporarily acquiring monocular diplopia that some other sites warn about, and reasonably argues that it probably was a neurological condition (which I heard about mine too) caused by the changes that were happening in his eyes and their retinas specifically. Oh, and in relation to the "undercorrected" article: Unlike it, he does not say to always wear the glasses. – EvgEnZh Dec 9 at 4:29

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