Does vision ever get better by itself?

You never hear of stories of people whose vision has improved naturally without surgery or some kind of medical intervention like glasses or contacts. My questions are assuming someone who has 20/20 early in their life, and then later it changes to 20/100, so they get glasses, rather than someone who is born with poor vision, or has a separate condition that affects their vision.

My questions:

  1. If it’s possible for bad vision to get better, what circumstances make it possible? I’m guessing that certain types of damage or temporary conditions (e.g. eyestrain) do get better over time, but genetic disorders or glaucoma won’t.

  2. If it’s not possible, does the eye have certain properties that prevent it from regenerating cells, like the brain or the spinal cord?

  3. Is it possible for vision to improve without assistance like surgery or binoculars? I’ve heard of rescue pilots having 20/10. Can a person with 20/20 improve their eyesight later in life naturally?

  4. My night vision decreased when I was a delivery driver. Can I get it back?

My optometrist predicted that my shortsightedness would improve with age and he’s right, but I’m not sure why.

Humans tend to get farsighted with age. If you are nearsighted early in life, this can effectively wipe out some of your myopia. But it is accompanied with other aging characteristics like rigidity of the lens, negating some of the reversal advantages.

There are some techniques that can be used. The main one, iirc, is the Bates Method. I got a book based on it out of the library, but I never really put the effort in to try it. It had charts and exercises you were supposed to do and I was too distracted while I had it.

I did stop wearing my contacts as much as possible and my glasses too. I noticed after a while that I could see without my glasses much better than previously. My vision isn’t too bad. I’m nearsighted, but not blind. I do require lenses for driving, but I’m watching tv on a smallish tv right now and it’s probably 9 ft away and I can read most of the words on the screen in ads, without squinting.

A few months ago there would have been much more squinting.

Maybe it was psychosomatic or I tricked myself. I don’t know and I don’t care. I like being lens free as much as possible and now I can do so a tiny bit better.

Proponents of the method claim that following it religiously will completely solve all your eye problems (near sighted, far sighted, astigmatism) and you can end up with better than 20/20. There is even a facility in India, I think, where you go and your vision is corrected in just one week, supposedly.

A technique being tested is these hard contact lenses that reshape your eyes like surgery but without the surgery. It’s called Ortho K.

I’m not sure if I got the details completely right on the Bates or Ortho K, but it’s the general idea.

So if you don’t think it’s quackery, there are some options out there.

My myopia improved a bit between ages 25 and 65. It was never very bad.

Presbyopia Can improve temporarily with fluid retention. The lens swells, just like the ankles. The down side is one may aslo have trouble breathing from extra fluid in the lungs.

I’m an example of the farsightedness of age correcting the nearsightedness of youth. I just got a new prescription and the sudden increase in clarity and sharpness is amazing. This is quite common.

The Bates method was singled out as pseudoscience 50 years ago in Martin Gardner’s Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. None of the cult sciences he named have ever become accepted in all the years since.

I don’t know whether you’d consider it “inborn,” but both my cousin and me got about 1 diopter of shortsightedness when we got our periods. Both of us had been wearing glasses, in my case for a couple of years (although I probably should have gotten them about age 6), in her case a bit longer.

In my case, that meant going from 1D shortsightedness to 2D. In hers, going from 1D farsightedness to “look, Ma, no glasses!”

I don’t know about the Bates method, but the lens is controlled by muscles, and muscles can be trained (or let atrophy).

There are a bunch of eye problems that children can have that get better with age or with therapy.

There are people who think that near and far sightedness can be cured by training the eyes, but supposedly there is little research to corroborate that.

Certain things temporarily improve vision, such as extra moisture on the eye, or looking through a slit or hole. This is an optical and not a medical phenomenon though.

My vision has improved greatly, though I can’t be sure why. My vision started getting bad (near sighted) in junior high and I got glasses, with the prescription getting slightly worse over the years. Then near the end of college I got sick of wearing glasses so I just stopped. Since then my vision has gotten a lot better and I only need to wear glasses (and even then it’s a very minor prescription) if I’m driving at night in poor weather conditions.


I highly recommend no one try this. Not only is it a waste of your time but part of the “method” is literally staring into the sun. If Bates didnt understand why you shouldnt be doing this then he really doesnt understand the basics of sight. Its pure quackery.

The lens is actually controlled by ligaments. As one ages, the ligaments become less flexible and becomes more limited in the ability to focus the lens for close vision. Actually, this begins at a very early age (childhood) but is not noticeable until the ability to focus on reading material demands holding the reading material further than you can reach, about age 40-50.

When I visited an optometrist a couple of weeks ago I was told the vision in my right eye had improved somewhat. I think it was 0.75 diopters. I still definitely need glasses and everything else I heard that day was bad news, but my eyesight did get better on its own. My grandfather told me years ago that happened to him, although I didn’t think it would happen to me until I was well past retirement age.