In this article Dr. Bates offers some remarkably helpful suggestions for those who are trying to improve their sight without the use of glasses. Every reader should study the ideas offered here very carefully.
1. Stationary Objects Should Seem to Move
THERE are three things which are important or necessary for the patient to practice while under treatment. The most important of all is to see things moving, or rather to be conscious that stationary objects are moving, in the opposite direction to the movement of the eyes. Unless this is done continuously one is apt to imagine stationary objects are stationary which is very injurious to the eyes. When riding in a railroad train one can imagine the telegraph poles [this article was written over 75 years ago! - gm], trees, hills, the houses and the scenery is moving in the opposite direction.
When one drives an automobile it is important to watch the road straight ahead, and while the car is going forward the road appears to come toward the driver and he is very apt to pay little or no attention to the movement. He does not try to imagine the road is stationary, as he knows by experience that it is impossible, and the effort stakes him uncomfortable. However, the passenger in the car is interested in the scenery off to one side, and in order to see things more clearly they make an effort to imagine things are stationary. For this reason alone some people suffer from headaches, nausea or other disagreeable symptoms when riding in a motor car. They complain that moving objects make them uncomfortable.
It can always be demonstrated that it is not seeing things move which is uncomfortable but rather it is trying to stop the movement which causes the discomfort. Objects that are apparently moving rapidly are not seen clearly or perfectly. They are seen better when the car is not moving. One of the first things I have my patients demonstrate is that it is impossible to keep the attention fixed on a point and imagine it stationary for any length of time, and that the effort to do so is disagreeable and lowers the memory and imagination and sight.
Many people can remember a small letter o and imagine the white center as white as snow, or a white cloud in the sky, or very white starch. They can also imagine a little black period on the right edge of the o and imagine it perfectly black for a few seconds or longer, but the longer one tries to remember or imagine the more difficult it becomes. The eyes and the mind become tired and the period is for-gotten and the letter o is seen for a short time, when trying to imagine the period and the o stationary.
It is impossible to concentrate on one point continuously. The dictionary says that concentration is an effort to keep the attention fixed on a point only and not to see anything else. To concentrate on a period on the right edge of the o continuously is impossible, and trying to do so is a great strain. All persons with imperfect sight consciously or unconsciously are trying constantly to do the impossible, to concentrate.
To see things moving all the time or rather to imagine the illusion that all stationary objects are moving opposite to the movement of the eyes is a great help in curing imperfect sight. It is well for the patient to have someone to remind them at frequent intervals of the movement of stationary objects. Many persons, when they are talking to you, feel it the proper thing to keep their eyes fixed continuously on your face, that is to say, to stare at you. Instead of moving their eyes from one eye to the other or from one side of the nose, to the other they stare at one eye continuously which lowers the vision and may cause headaches or some other discomfort.
It is well to get into the habit of imagining the fact of the people are moving from side to side. To do this the patient requires constant supervision. In many cases when one becomes able to imagine things all day long, moving with a slow, short, easy movement from side to side, the vision becomes normal. If any other treatment, like palming or flashing or use of the memory or imagination helps the sight, the patient's ability to see things moving all day long is also benefitted.
2. Snellen Card and Fine Print
A card with letters printed on it can be used in such a way as to obtain perfect relaxation with consequent perfect sight. The Snellen Test Card has letters of different sizes arranged in such a way that one can measure the amount of vision of the patient, more or less perfectly. The Snellen Test Card, when placed in a school room and read every day, with each eye separately, by the pupils, always improves the sight, provided the children do not wear glasses. Most children under twelve years of age are cured in a very short time, a few weeks, or even less, but if they wear glasses they cannot be cured unless they stop wearing them. [Note – Bates softened this viewpoint later - gm] In families where the parents have poor eyesight and wear glasses it often happens that the children sooner or later appear to need glasses also. However, if they read the Snellen Test Card every day, at 20 feet, with each eye, imperfect sight is always prevented.
Children who are older than twelve and all children who have worn glasses require a much longer time to obtain benefit from the use of the Snellen Test Card. Some of these cases may require three months, six months, or even longer. When one studies the facts it seems remarkable the amount of damage that can be done to the eyes of children from wearing glasses. Only persons who are graduates of medicine should be permitted to prescribe glasses. In some cases it is well to require a knowledge of the eye and its numerous diseases. Patients come to me wearing glasses which do not improve the sight, rather lower it, who have disease of the optic nerve, or disease of the retina of very serious nature. I have seen patients, condemned to cataract, wearing glasses which did not improve their eyesight. Patients with glaucoma, a very treacherous disease, I have observed wearing glasses that they obtained from some optician or from some ignorant so-called eye-specialist.
Glasses Keep up the Eye Strain. It is a mistake to believe that even though the glasses do no good they cannot do harm. Glasses keep up the strain. A person wearing glasses for myopia has to strain all the time in order to make the eyeball elongated sufficiently to fit the glasses. It can be very readily demonstrated, as I have frequently published, that under favorable conditions all persons with myopia are temporarily normal. When they try to see they strain in such a way that the eyeball becomes nearsighted. Some days they strain more than other days, and many people tell me that they notice that, with their glasses on, their vision was extremely variable. The same is true with other errors of refraction.
Reading the Snellen Test Card twice a day or oftener, after glasses are discarded [Again, Bates later softened his extreme position about discarding glasses. Using reduced glasses and going without them as much as possible is a much more feasible approach for most people - gm], is a great help in improving the sight. If one can memorize the letters of the Snellen Test Card and imagine that they can see the smallest letters on the card at 15 ft. or 20 ft., it can be demonstrated that their eyes are normal. I believe this is a discovery worth emphasizing.
Always, when a patient imagines he sees or reads the letters on the Snellen Test Card with perfect sight the retinoscope demonstrates that the eye is normal and he is able to read the card with normal vision. I have no exceptions. One patient who had 40 diopters in myopia, when looking at a blank wall and not trying to see the retinoscope flashing the reflection of a light on to the center of sight, demonstrated that the eye was normal for longer or shorter periods; that when the patient regard the Snellen Test Card, 40 diopters of Myopia can be demonstrated. [40 diopters is unbelievably strong; 6 - 10 diopters is usually considered extreme - gm]
While reading the Snellen Test Card gives great benefit to many people it should be realized or known that there are some cases who can be cured better without reading the Snellen Test Card. For some persons the Snellen Test Card is a PESSIMUM [Bates’ word for anything that causes blur when looked at by a particular person; likewise, an “optimum” is something that evokes clarity - gm] and the vision is lowered whenever some people regard it. I have seen a great many persons with normal sight when they regarded any ordinary objects, people's faces, houses, trees, flowers, who became highly myopic with considerable astigmatism whenever they look at the Snellen Test Card. One such person I cured was a champion rifle shot. When he looked at a bull's eye his vision was unusually good but when he looked at the Snellen Test Card lie had compound hypermetropic astigmatism with a vision of one-quarter of the normal. Glasses in such a case would have been a crime.
One of the three things which patients are recommended to practice for the cure of their imperfect sight is to palm at least six times daily for five minutes or longer each time. Some persons with very poor eyesight who were anxious to recover as soon as possible have palmed nine hours daily with wonderful benefit. Palming for such long periods of time requires supervision because palming, like many other things, while it is, when done properly, a great benefit, can be used wrong.
Instead of the vision improving many people have lowered their vision by palming. Instead of resting their eyes they would strain and would imagine all kinds of colors. Resting the eyes by closing and covering them with the palms of the hands improves the sight of most people. Some persons have obtained a cure by palming only. When the vision is not improved by palming do not practice it until one can learn how to palm properly. Palming has cured so many people that I always recommend it very highly to all my patients. [Palming while following one of my CD programs will help ensure you are palming in a relaxing way. - gm]