Beyond 20/20 Vision At Any Age

Roughly 80% of the sensory input that the brain gets comes from the eyes.

Vision is key to keep your balance when standing, and it’s the primary sense that you use to detect threats, identify threats, avoid attacks, target strikes (with a firearm or empty handed), and more.

Snellen_ChartWhen most people think about vision, they think about the eye chart that you use at the eye doctor’s office called a Snellen chart. It tells you whether your vision is 20/20 (you see objects at 20 feet with the same clarity as the average person), 20/200 (you see objects at 20 feet with the same clarity as the average person sees objects at 200 feet) or something else.

There’s a couple of problems that happen when you test your vision once or twice a year and take the results as gospel…

First, vision is not static. It changes from day to day, throughout the day, and even from breath to breath. The eye, although small, has a voracious appetite for oxygen, and the clarity of your vision is noticeably affected by very small dips in blood oxygen levels.

In fact, if you’ve ever been running and had to immediately take a precision shot at 300-500 yards, you’re probably familiar with how everything “blurs out” and comes back into focus after a couple of deep breaths.

This is also a common problem that people have when trying to shoot one hole groups with a pistol at 10 feet. They hold their breath (consciously or unconsciously) and as blood oxygen levels drop, vision blurs out and the sights disappear. That creates anxiety and makes it almost impossible to shoot precisely without having the discipline to calm yourself and take a deep breath or two.

Vision is also affected by hydration, blood sugar, blood pressure, fatigue, blood chemistry (adrenaline, cortisol, endorphins, dopamine, etc.) and what you’ve been focusing on immediately prior. Many hunters who have desk jobs notice that their vision is MUCH better at the end of hunting season when they’ve been spending more time focusing at a distance rather than close up at a computer screen.

I’ve witnessed several people go from seeing 20/80-20/100 to seeing 20/20-20/40 in a matter of a few minutes, simply by doing a few Shooters’ Vision Gym eye exercises. (some of which are shown >HERE<)

Which leads me to the 2nd problem with once a year eye tests…

Visual clarity at 20 feet is only a small part of what your eyes do. In addition to seeing clearly, they:

  • get visual input from the periphery…oftentimes creating a field of view that’s more than 180 degrees.
  • coordinate the right and left eye so that they converge and diverge together and lock onto objects…both near and far.
  • quickly and accurately convert colors and shapes that exist in your environment into emotions and thoughts in your brain that you can take action on.
  • allow you to quickly shift your focus from something off to you your left side to something off to your right side.
  • track moving objects.
  • activate additional parts of the brain
  • have the ability to automatically center objects to 1/1000th of an inch (or more)
  • help you keep your balance and know where your body is in space so you don’t fall over or run into things.

All of these are things that go beyond 20/20 vision. All of them are critical, not only to shooting and self-defense, but life in general…and there are simple, quick drills that you can do to improve all of these aspects of vision, regardless of whether or not you are wearing glasses.

Even if your “score” at the eye doctor’s office never changes as a result of doing these exercises, doing exercises to improve all of these other aspects of vision can literally change your life.

Personally, I’ve done vision training for more than a decade. All current vision training is based on research done by Dr. William H. Bates over 100 years ago, and I’ve found every program I’ve tried to be effective to one degree or another.

But the system that I use and recommend is called “Vision Gym” and it’s from my friend, Dr. Eric Cobb. Eric has been and is a peak performance consultant to Olympians, professional athletes from around the globe, and elite tactical operators and elite tactical units.

He optimizes vision for people who win or lose based on a 1/100th of a second and he optimizes vision for operators who live or die based on 1/100th of a second. He’s a tremendous athlete, trains extensively in combatives, has trained and helped develop training curriculum for some of the most elite tactical units in the country, and is a shooter. In other words, he’s one of us and he understands the tactical mind and it’s needs better than any other vision expert that I know of.

Because of that, I want you to do one of 2 things…

  1. If you KNOW you would benefit from seeing more of what’s around you, shifting focus faster, and identifying objects faster, click >HERE<, scroll to the bottom of the page, and get your copy.
  2. If you don’t get how what I’m saying could even be possible and need to see more to understand it, click >HERE<

In any case, here are 4 quick fixes that I’ve found to improve my vision FAST…

  1. The simplest and easiest thing I’ve found is to take 2-3 deep breaths in a row to fully oxygenate my eyes.  If lack of oxygen is the problem or part of the problem, this makes a huge difference.
  2. Every morning, when I first wake up, I go outside and stare “off into the distance” for several seconds and let my eyes “reset” and sync up with each other. Almost without fail, I’ll go from having everything be blurry at 50-100 yards to where I can pick out and clearly see golf balls that I have set out at 50-100 yards. (It doesn’t have to be golf balls. It can be ANYTHING…including writing on a neighbor’s satellite dish or a street sign.)If I’m working on my computer a lot during the day, I’ll take breaks and do the same thing—look off into the distance until my vision clears and my eyes sync up. You may/may not need corrective lenses to do this, and the distance that you can do the drill may vary from day to day, but doing this exercise occasionally will make your eyes happy.
  3. Palming…Palming is deceptively simple. Simply shut your eyes and cup your palms over both eyes for 1-2 minutes. Relax your eyes, relax your shoulders, and relax your neck. Oftentimes, the eyes are blurry because the muscles holding the eyes are too tense and this simple exercise can relax those muscles, get the eye (lens) back into the right shape, and bring the world back into focus.
  4. Pinhole lens…Make an “OK” symbol with your fingers and curl your index finger until the hole is roughly the size of the head of a pin. Pick out something blurry either close up (like a book or menu) or far off and look at it through the pinhole. Try moving the pinhole closer and further away and making it bigger/smaller until the object that WAS blurry is now clear. This is a great tool to use to convince the brain that you CAN see better.Don’t diminish the importance of this.  The world thought it was physically and physiologically impossible to run 1 mile in less than 4 minutes…until Roger Bannister did it in 1954.  As soon as people knew it was possible, 20+ people broke the 4 minute mile barrier in the next 5 years.

You might wonder why we talk about vision in general and Eric in particular as much as we do.

I was actually talking with Tim Larkin’s partner, Ralph, today about this. What it comes down to is that there are few things that Ralph, Tim, David, or I have experienced in our lives that can make such a high leverage impact on someone’s life as Eric’s program. We’ve all experienced it. We’ve all used Eric’s techniques with friends, family, and students to make dramatic, immediate improvements in performance, and KNOW that it’ll work for anyone who hasn’t lost all of their visual ability.

Here’s an example. Your brain CRAVES visual input and a lack of visual input causes stress and a release of cortisol. You probably relate to this from a time when you’ve been in a crowded room that went pitch black, had covers or a blindfold put over your eyes, or even when you’ve tried using small mirrors in an unfamiliar car to back up in poor lighting conditions.

As we age and condition our eyes to lock focus onto objects at arm’s length throughout the day, our field of view narrows. The narrower the visual cone is that we see the world through, the less visual input the brain gets and more stress it feels.

But if you train the eye to see a larger field of view, it gives the brain more of the visual input that it craves and helps it be more calm.

It can oftentimes take your effective field of view from 10-20 degrees (width of a mobile device at arm’s length) to 90 or even 180 degrees. From a survival and threat detection perspective, this is HUGE.

For driving, it means being able to detect movement in all 3 rear view mirrors simultaneously while looking forward. It means that you’ll detect things unconsciously going into and out of your blind spots so that you can consciously shift focus to give them more attention.

When sitting/walking, it means that with very little movement of the head, you can have 360 degree unconscious awareness of potential accidents and threats.

Our ability to shift focus and focus quickly slows down as well, but with proper exercises, you can get it back. As an example, with moderate practice, you can speed up your ability to shift focus enough that you can be driving on a road at 35mph, focus on the features of an oncoming driver, shift focus to their license plate, and read/remember the state and 6 or more letters/numbers on the plate.

This is a case where the more threats you can detect unconsciously, without cluttering up all of your conscious thoughts, and the earlier & further away you can detect them, the fewer bad things you’ll have happen to you.

If you’ve been through Eric’s or anyone else’s vision training, I’d love it if you shared your thoughts by commenting below.

If you haven’t been through Eric’s training, I’d strongly suggest that you click >HERE< now and—at least—consider getting your copy. It’s only worked with 100% of the people I’ve introduced it to and I’m sure it will work for you too.

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1 Comment

  • Harry "Hershy" Orenstein

    Reply Reply July 31, 2015

    Thank you soo much for contributing to more accurate shooting near and far.

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