Eyesight problems are a plague of modern society. Eyeglasses, when they are a solution at all, are not an acceptable solution.

We believe that you can recover your eyesight naturally, over a wide variety of types of blurry vision and visual disorders, and that you can do so without surgery, drugs or glasses, even in long-standing cases that began in childhood. We believe that the way you use your eyes and mind are the biggest factors in good vision and eye health. The methods presented on this website are based loosely on the Bates method, developed in the early 20th century by a little-known eye doctor, W.H. Bates.

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First time here? See the Introduction.

Looking Far To See Far

When people hear the expression “If you don’t use it, you lose it”, they may think of the athletic prowess they had when they were younger and training hard, but now they have a desk job and are getting flabby. Or they may think of an ageing parent who was formerly aware and alert, yet now spends all her time watching mindless TV, and is becoming confused and muddle-headed. To me it also applies to distance vision. If you spend most of your days (and nights!) looking at a computer or phone screen a few inches away from your face, at some point your body and mind may decide seeing far is not a function you need. It will let your distance vision start to decline, allocating those resources to something else you use more.

Several years ago when I started trying to do without my glasses, after spending most of my life with a strong prescription in front of my eyes, I was surprised to find I was not looking in the distance. Since I didn’t expect to see well, I didn’t even look! I’d look “out the window” but actually be looking at the window pane, not through it, making do with the blurry images I saw “on it” as if the window was a TV screen! I could hardly see natural depth then at all.

When I began going for regular walks without my glasses, when I still needed a -8 correction to drive safely, I caught myself looking down a lot. The sidewalk was only a little more than 5 feet from my eyes, and I could see it pretty well, but looking straight ahead into the distance was scary! I was surprised to find myself getting nervous if there was a wide open space in front of me, with no tree or building to comfortably block my gaze.

Gradually I weaned myself away from this fear by practicing looking at far-away trees, or the clouds overhead, when I didn’t have a long panoramic view to play with. This is one big reason I like to get outside every day, even in poor weather — the chance to look far is more available than it is indoors.

One of my vision clients is slowly learning to do without his glasses for some activities, like walking outside or working out. He recently took a long coastal trip with a friend who did the driving, so my client could practice letting his gaze travel far outward. He told me his eyes “were doing something different”, the little muscles releasing and adjusting. His natural vision was re-learning how to see far away.

Meir Schneider is a well-known vision teacher who was considered blind from failed infant cataract operations, and grew up reading only Braille until he met a Bates teacher at age 17. He regularly did the Long Swing exercise at the edge of the sea, letting his gaze travel out and out over the waves. He trained his eyes to see in the distance, successfully, and now has a driver’s license with no requirement for eyeglasses. (Here is a link to a video of the Long Swing if you’re not familiar with it. This simple exercise is a core Bates Method technique.)

When I started to improve my vision, when I looked out my front window without my glasses I could hardly see the cars in the neighbor’s driveway 50 feet away. I can now see across the street and identify the people coming in or out of the house over there, which was unheard of (or unseen!) before. Now I’m sometimes annoyed that the house across the street is so “close”, because it blocks my view! But of course I can look up and see the clouds, or go outside and look down the street.

To retain or improve your distance vision, use it! Look at those details you can see, and imagine those you can’t see yet. Is there a bird on that small branch over there? Might there be a butterfly there too, or a big (or little) bug? Pretend you have Superman’s telescopic vision, and see what you can see.

Looking at Something Impossible to See

grains of sand
One of the main things that you might struggle with in your vision improvement process is a basic part of the Bates method: balancing relaxation with looking at small details. It’s about balancing rest with action, yin and yang. The reason why it is so hard for you to do both things effectively is you have coupled a bad habit with each of the good habits. You have coupled complete passivity with relaxation, and at the same time coupled looking at details with straining your eyes.

But not really. That’s the way it seems, with the way you can’t seem to do it right, but the idea is just an illusion. You can create whatever you want. Instead of struggling with avoiding too much effort and strain when you look at details, you can let the whole idea go and create your own action that isn’t flawed. You do what you think of, and if you have an idea in your head about how your vision should work, your body will work to try to make that a reality. All the metaphors that you may have heard from Bates method enthusiasts about how you can think about using your eyes are all ways for you to re-create the process for yourself.

So if you struggle with doing a particular thing the way Bates or someone described, or you find you have no success with it, then think about it another way. If you find that looking at the smallest detail you can find results in you always tensing up your eyes as you try to grasp the details, I suggest you backtrack and approach it differently. If looking at details causes you problems, what could you do to avoid looking at details? How can you gain the benefits of looking at them without actually doing what you were doing? What does it mean to look at details?

Try this. Imagine that what you’re looking at – say, an eye chart – is made of details so small you can’t possibly see them. And that’s the truth, with all the molecules, so this will be easy. If when you look at part of a letter on the chart you are imagining you’re looking at a molecule, and you know that you can’t possibly see that individual molecule, then you have nothing to “grab onto” and tense your eyes over. Instead of looking at details, you’re always looking within them, glancing at various points that catch your interest, but never being satisfied with “seeing” a point, and in fact assuming that you will not see it.

Can you imagine what a relief it would be to not have to try to focus and find details, but only to look at whatever area catches your interest and imagine a molecule within it that is too small to see?

Are you willing to trust that your visual system needs no more involvement from you than this? Are you willing to give it a chance to do its job as you look from molecule to molecule that you don’t even see?

What I’m suggesting is your visual system needs very few things from you to function. It needs stimulation, so it needs your eyes to be moving, and it needs you to be interested in what you’re looking at or imagining (again, the body takes its cue from your intention). And of course it needs the eyes to blink and stay relaxed so they can do the work without restriction.

Let me know how it goes!

Why My Eyes?

One of my vision improvement clients was put in eyeglasses at a young age, like I was myself. He grew up wearing these “eye-cages” throughout his childhod and young adulthod. Recently he told me he’s had feelings of resentment that others around him, who may not be nearly as healthy as he is, seem to have no vision problems. It doesn’t seem fair — here he is working out, eating in a healthy way, focusing on learning new things, yet his vision limitations can seem so big at times. Why isn’t anyone else having to deal with this?

Since I’ve felt the same feelings, I could completeley relate to this. First, we don’t know anyone else’s story. Someone you see on the street who looks normal could have an artifical leg! Or even if their vision is clearer than mine, perhaps they’re overweight and have high blood pressure, or have other medical problems which aren’t obvious to me. As the saying goes “Better the devil you know” — I’ve been dealing with nearsightedness since I was probably 3 (I got glasses at age 5), so I understand it and know what to do about it. I don’t want to trade it for someone else’s problems, which might be a lot worse!

Another aspect of this for me is that every challenge is a gift, to learn more about myself, perhaps to get me to change direction, and to help me grow. This has certainly been true for me with improving my vision. I didn’t need the lesson of learning how to stay fit and honor my physical body. Unfortunately many people don’t learn this lesson until they contract a serious disease from years of not taking care of their body. I needed to learn how to reach out, to connect with others. I’m well aware that “short-sightedness” is not reaching all the way out visually (as I groan inwardy at my limitation being so obvious to everyone). I needed to learn that it is safe to see clearly, not only seeing my environment but also seeing myself, my good points and my not-so-good ones.

Since I’ve always loved to learn, and my vision is teaching me more than any other situation in my life has, I am not planning to walk away from the lesson. I think one of the main reasons I’m here is to learn and understand, then to turn around and use what I’ve learned to help others, and I don’t mean only with regard to vision. I see myself going off to Life School every day, my books firmly under my arm, ready for the new adventure. What is Life teaching you today?

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