Most of us can remember riding on a swing as a child, that easy enjoyable back-and-forth rhythmic movement. When Dr. Bates wrote about the illusions of normal healthy sight, he included “the swing”. This is the gentle regular apparent movement of a stationary object or a letter as we let our gaze play over it, left and right, or up and down.
Our eyes are what is doing the moving, as we look and interpret what we see. Yet it can appear the view is moving. One simple way to notice this effect is with oppositional movement. When you drive forward in a car, the scenery “moves” behind you. When you walk along a sidewalk, that picket fence next to you “moves” farther and farther back. If you walk backwards a few steps, the fence starts moving forward!
When scanning a letter on an eye chart, if you move your gaze from the top to the bottom of it, the letter appears to slide up. Try it! If you look from the left side of a letter across it to the right side, it seems to slide or “swing” to the left. Of course the letter is not actually moving, though it looks like it is. It moves the opposite way your gaze does. Oppositional movement.
A big no-no in vision improvement is the dreaded Stare, locking your gaze on something (often a computer screen) and not moving your eyes. This resistance of the natural motion is strain, which underlies all vision problems. Your eyes want to move, gathering up every light ray available, using that data to paint a rich full picture of the environment in your brain for you to interpret. This is how we make sense of what we see.
When I started learning about vision improvement years ago, I read about the Universal Swing, but it was a long time before I saw it myself. It was only an academic concept to me for years. Now as soon as I look at the eye chart, that gentle bouncing or vibrating of the letters starts. If it doesn’t, I know I’m really stressed! It’s almost a pulsing, as if the chart is breathing.
When I began to see the Universal Swing off the chart, say on the air conditioner on the house across the street, it was a big breakthrough. I finally understood what Dr. Bates meant when he wrote “The world moves. Let it move.” Otherwise you’re resisting, fighting the flow of Life. And you’re not helping your eyes, as you step deeper into Stare Territory. Enjoy the swinging you see. It means your eyes are doing what they’re supposed to do.