This article from Dr. Bates’ Better Eyesight Magazine includes observations by an unnamed 40-year-old school teacher, as she quickly improved her eyesight. As she let go of the visual strain, she happily notes that she became “more direct, more definite, less diffused, less vague… better centered”. Her words are from almost 90 years ago, but you will probably resonate with her descriptions of both glasses, and freedom from them. –gm
A TEACHER’S EXPERIENCES
by Dr. William H Bates
A teacher forty years of age was first treated on March 28, 1919. She was wearing the following glasses: O. D. convex 0.75 D. S. with convex 4.00 D. C., 105 deg.; O. S. convex 0.75 D. S. with convex 3.50 D. C., 105 deg. [Mild nearsightedness with very strong astigmatism – gm] On June 9, 1919, she wrote: [2-1/2 months later]
I will tell you about my eyes, but first let me tell you other things. You were the first to unfold your theories to me, and I found them good immediately – that is, I was favorably impressed from the start. I did not take up the cure because other people recommended it, but because I was convinced: first, that you believed in your discovery yourself; second, that your theory of the cause of eye trouble was true. I don’t know how I knew these two things, but I did. After a little conversation with you, you and your discovery both seemed to me to bear the ear-marks of the genuine article. As to the success of the method with myself I had a little doubt. You might cure others, but you might not be able to cure me, However, I took the plunge, and it has made a great change in me and my life.
To begin with, I enjoy my sight. I love to look at things, to examine them in a leisurely, thorough way, much as a child examines things. I never realized it at the time, but it was irksome for me to look at things when I was wearing glasses, and I did as little of It as possible. The other day, going down on the Sandy Hook boat, I enjoyed a most wonderful sky without that hateful barrier of misted glasses, and I am positive I distinguished delicate shades of color that I never would have been able to see, even with clear glasses. Things seem to me now to have more form, more reality than when I wore glasses. Looking into the mirror you see a solid representation on a flat surface, and the flat glass can’t show you anything really solid. My eyeglasses, of course, never gave me this Impression, but one curiously like it. I can see so clearly without them that it is like looking around corners without changing the position. I feel that I can almost do it.
I very seldom have occasion to palm.By palming is meant the covering of the closed eyes with the palms of the hands in such a was as to exclude all the light, while remembering some color, usually black. Once in a great while I feel the necessity of it. The same with remembering a period. Nothing else is ever necessary. I seldom think of my eyes, but at times it is borne in upon me how much I do use and enjoy using them.
My nerves are much better. I am more equable, have more poise, am less shy. I never used to show that I was shy, or lacked confidence. I used to go ahead and do what was required, if not without hesitation, but it was hard. Now I find it easy. Glasses, or poor sight rather, made me self-conscious. It certainly is a great defect and one people are sensitive to without realizing it. I mean the poor sight and the necessity for wearing glasses. I put on a pair of glasses the other day lust for an experiment, and I found that they magnified things. My skin looked as if under a magnifying glass.- Things seemed too near. The articles on my chiffonier looked so close I felt like pushing them away from me. The glasses I especially wanted to push away. They brought irritation at once. I took them off and felt peaceful. Things looked normal.
I see better in the street than I ever did with glasses. I can see what people look like across the street, can distinguish their features. etc., a thing I could not do with glasses, or before I wore them. I can see better across the river and further into people’s houses across the street. Not that I indulge, but I noticed an increase of power while looking out of the window in school.
Speaking of school, I corrected an immense pile of examination papers the other day, five hours at a stretch, with an occasional look off the paper and an occasional turn about the room. I felt absolutely no discomfort after it. Two weeks previous to this feat I handled two hundred designs over and over again, looking at each one dozens and dozens of times to note changes and improvement in line and color. Occasionally, while this work was going on, I had to palm in the mornings on rising.
I use my eyes with as much success writing, though once in a while after a lot of steady writing they are a little bit tired. I can read at night without having to get close to a light. I mention this because last summer I had to sit immediately under the light, or I could not see.
From the beginning of the treatment I could use my eyes pretty well, but they used to tire. I remember making a large Liberty Loan poster two weeks after I took off my glasses, and I was amazed to find I could make the whole layout almost perfectly without a ruler, just as well as with my glasses. When I came to true it up with the ruler I found only the last row of letters a bit out of line at the very end. I couldn’t have done better with glasses. However this wasn’t fine work. About the same time I sewed a hem at night in a black dress, using a fine needle. I suffered a little for this, but not much.
I used to practice my exercises at that time and palm faithfully. Now I don’t have to practice, or palm; I feel no discomfort, and I am absolutely unsparing in my use of my eyes. I do everything I want to with them. I shirk nothing, pass up no opportunity of using them. From the first I did all my school work, read every notice, wrote all that was necessary, neglected nothing. Everything I was called upon to do 1 attempted. For instance, I had to read President Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” in the assembly room without notice in a poor light-unusual wording, too,-and I read It unhesitatingly. I have yet to fall to make good.
Now to sum up the school end of it, I used to get headaches at the end of the month from adding columns of figures necessary to reports, etc. Now I do not get them. I used to get flustered when people came into my room. Now I do not; I welcome them. It is a peasant change to feel this way. And-I suppose this is most important really, though I think of it last-I teach better. I know how to get at the mind and how to make the children see things in perspective. I gave a lesson on the horizontal cylinder recently, which, you know, is not a thrillingly interesting subject, and it was a remarkable lesson in its results and in the grip it got on every girl in the room, stupid and bright. What you have taught me makes me use the memory and imagination more, especially the latter, in teaching.
Now, to sum up the effect of being cured upon my own mind. I am more direct, more definite, less diffused, less vague. In short, I am conscious of being better centered. It is central fixation of the mind. I saw this in your latest paper, but I realized it long ago and knew what to call it.