"> A Natural Alternative Treatment for Glaucoma

A Natural Alternative Treatment for Glaucoma

Conventional therapies for glaucoma consist of several different types of medications and surgeries revolving around different ways of relieving the pressure inside the eye, a characteristic symptom of glaucoma. Below are various articles from Better Eyesight Magazine that suggest glaucoma is treatable naturally, by learning to relax the eyes and using the eyes in the right way that prevents the disease from occuring. In this way the treatment Dr. Bates recommends is similar to that of many other eyesight disorders.

Better Eyesight Magazine, December 1920:


W.H. Bates, M.D.

Glaucoma is a condition in which the eyeball becomes abnormally hard, and theories as to its cause are endless. The hardness is supposed to be due to a rise in intraocular pressure, and the other symptoms, chief among which is an excavation of the optic nerve, forming in advanced cases a deep cup with overhanging edges, are supposed to be the results of this pressure. Yet all the symptoms commonly associated with increased tension have been found in eyes in which the tension was normal.

The increased tension is supposed to be due to an excess of fluid in the eyeball, and this is commonly attributed to an impeded outflow. The aqueous humor, which is secreted very rapidly, is supposed to escape at the angle formed by the junction of the iris with the cornea, and in glaucoma it is believed that the iris adheres to the cornea so that the angle is obstructed. Yet it is a well-known fact that in many cases no such obstruction can be found.

For more than fifty years iridectomy held the field as the only treatment which gave any hope of relief in glaucoma. The operation, which means the removal of a piece of the iris, was introduced by von Graefe, and often gives relief for a longer or shorter time. If the patient lives long enough, however, the condition always returns. I have seen this happen after the tension had been normal for fifteen years. It is a fact mentioned by all the text-books, moreover, that it often fails to give even temporary relief, and sometimes the condition is made worse than it was before.

The beneficial results of the operation, when it does succeed, have never been satisfactorily explained, but the accepted opinion at the present time is that they are due to the formation of a scar which is more pervious to the fluids of the eye than the normal tissue, and the object of modern operations is to obtain such a scar. For this reason sclerotomy, usually performed by the method of Elliott has gained great vogue. A piece of the entire thickness of the sclera is removed, and thus a permanent fistula covered only by the conjunctiva is formed. Through this the fluids of the interior escape. Like iridectomy this operation sometimes succeeds temporarily, but, according to Elliott himself, it may fail to check the optic atrophy and decline of vision even when the relief of tension is complete.

Although it is the concensus of medical opinion that a glaucomatous eye must eventually be operated upon, and that the sooner this is done the better, some men have attempted to hold the process at bay by the use of myotics. These drugs, by contracting the pupil and thus stretching the iris, are believed to draw the latter away from the "filtration angle" and allow the excess of fluid to escape. They are commonly employed for the purpose of giving temporary relief, but some specialists advise their continuous use. Posey claims that such treatment gives a larger proportion of successes than iridectomy.

Until a few years ago I always treated glaucoma by the old methods, not knowing anything better to do; but I never used the Elliot operation, having early learned that it is very dangerous to allow the fluids of the eyeball to escape, and having seen glaucoma produced by fistula of the cornea. I would not have ventured to predict that the condition could be relieved by relaxation, and only learned by accident that it was amenable to such treatment.

On May 9, 1915, a patient (mentioned in Blindness Relieved by a New Method, N. Y. Med. Jour. Feb. 3, 1917) came to me with a complication of diseases which had reduced the vision of the right eye to light perception and that of the left to 20/100 (the field being also contracted). She was fifty-four years of age, and had been wearing since 1910 the following glasses: both eyes, convex 2.00 D.S. combined with convex 1.50 D.C., axis 90. As her pupils were much contracted, I prescribed atropine to dilate them, two grains to an ounce of normal salt solution, one drop three times a day.

On the afternoon of May 10, she had an attack of acute glaucoma in the left or better eye. As atropine and other mydriactics are thought sometimes to produce glaucoma, the fact that the disease attacked only one eye and that the better of the two is interesting. The condition got worse as the day advanced, and during the night the pain was so intense that the patient vomited repeatedly. The next morning she came to the office, and I noted that there was blood in the anterior chamber. The vision had been reduced to light perception, and the pain again produced vomiting. I prescribed eserine-two grains to the ounce, one drop three times a day. Afterward I visited her three or four times a day in her home, and as there had been no improvement, I increased the strength of the eserine solution to four grains to the ounce and alternated it with a three per cent solution of pilocarpine, both of these drugs being myotics. Still there was no improvement, and after a few days I decided upon an operation. It was performed on May 15, and was accompanied by considerable hemorrhage. Mild hemorrhages also occurred at different times during the following week. When the blood cleared away an opaque mass was left covering the pupil. On May 23, the tension was normal and there was no pain; but, owing to the opaque matter covering the pupil, there had been no improvement in the vision.

After the operation the patient resumed the relaxation treatment. Under its influence the vision of the right eye improved, and when a few weeks after the operation there was an increase of tension in this eye, it was at once relieved by palming. For some months the vision of the left eye remained unchanged, owing to the opacity of the pupil. Then the obstruction began to clear away, and the vision improved. In a year there was normal vision in both eyes. From time to time during this period, and up to the present time, the patient had attacks of increased tension in both eyes; but they were always relieved in a few minutes by palming.
Since then I have used the same treatment in many cases, and I have never seen one in which the pain and tension could not be relieved in a few minutes by palming, while permanent relief was obtained by more prolonged treatment.

One of the worst cases of glaucoma I ever met with came to me on Feb. 2, 1920. The patient was sixty years of age, and his vision in the right eye or better eye was only 20/100, with marked contraction of the field on the nasal side. In the left he had only light perception. The eyeballs felt as hard as the glass shell of an artificial eye, which, technically, is tension plus 3. The glaucomatous excavation of the optic nerve was so marked that it seemed as if the whole nerve had been pushed backward. The patient had been under treatment a long time, but had received no benefit.

On March 2, after swinging and palming, the vision of the right eye was 20/20w—while that of the left was 20/100 in the eccentric field. On March 4, the field of the left eye had improved, and by alternating the universal swing with palming he became able, for short periods, to read diamond type with the right eye at six inches. This was twelve days after he had begun the treatment. On March 7, he flashed 20/40 with the left eye, and by the aid of the universal swing read fine print at five inches with the right, while the field of both eyes was normal. For the first time in several years he became able to see the food on his plate. Previously he had had to be fed, which was very humiliating to him. He also became able to go about without an attendant, to attend to his correspondence at the office, and to read his letters without glasses. At this point he stopped the treatment against my advice, and I have not seen him since. He was greatly helped by the universal swing, which he practiced all day.

The truth about glaucoma is that it is a functional neurosis caused by strain, and as such is curable. You can produce hardness in a normal eye by having the patient strain to see (see page 2), and you can soften a glaucomatous eyeball by relief of strain. These changes are so rapid that no change in the contents of the eyeball could account for them. I therefore concluded, before I had any experimental evidence of the fact, that they were due to muscular action. Later I was able to produce glaucoma in a rabbit’s eye by operations upon the muscles. I shortened the superior rectus by tucking, and thereby produced a tension of plus 1. I repeated the operation upon the superior oblique, and the tension increased to plus 2. I did the same to the inferior oblique, and the tension increased to the maximum, plus 3. All this time the tension of the other eyeball remained normal.



Editor’s Note – This patient when first seen was able to read 20/50 with each eye, but the right eye was absolutely blind on the nasal side, a vertical line dividing the seeing from the blind area. The tension of the right eye was usually greater than that of the left, but at times the reverse was the case, and for short periods the tension of both eyes was normal. He had been using myotics (drops which contract the pupil) for some time, but had obtained no benefit from them. His age was fifty-eight, and he was wearing the following glasses: distance, both eyes, convex 2.75 D.S.; reading, both eyes, convex 5.00 DS. The improvement in his field since he has been under treatment has been very remarkable, as the accepted methods of treatment, even when the results are most favorable are not expected to enlarge the field, or even to prevent a further loss.

In the summer of 1917 1 had the first symptoms of glaucoma in the form of an attack of rainbow vision. I did not know what the symptoms meant, and was not alarmed; but I went to an optician and had my glasses changed, thinking the trouble was the consequence of eyestrain. The symptoms continued, however, and I went to another optician and had the glasses changed again. Still I was no better. Then I went to a succession of oculists, some six or seven, all of them being men of considerable eminence in the profession. The first two put drops in my eyes and examined my field, but did not tell me that I had glaucoma. It was only from the third, about a year and a half after the first symptoms appeared, that I learned what was the matter with me. The last began to talk operation, but I let him talk. I think I may claim to be as game as anyone about operations. When the doctors told me that they wanted to take my stomach out and put it back again, I said, "Go ahead." If they had told me that they wanted to take off my leg, I would probably have said the same thing. But when it came to letting anyone cut into my eye it was a different matter. About the first of last July the oculist in whose care I then was told me that my field was getting less. He asked me to come back in October, and said if the field continued to contract he would talk operation again.

Sometime previous to this an acquaintance who said that Dr. Bates had cured him of glaucoma gave me a copy of Better Eyesight. I did not become seriously interested at the time, but later I asked the man for details. He told me something about Dr. Bates’ methods, and said he not only had great faith in Dr. Bates, but that he was the only eye specialist in whom he did have any faith.

Finally, on September 11, of this year, I went to Dr. Bates. He told me to stop the eye drops and take off my glasses, which I did. Having worn the latter for twenty-five years, I had considerable difficulty at first in getting on without them; but after three or four days things began to go better, and before the end of the month I read the address on the Doctor’s card without artificial aid. I could not have done this when I took off my glasses if a hundred million dollars had been at stake. I can now, six weeks after the beginning of the treatment, read ordinary print at twelve inches, and under favorable conditions can read diamond type at six inches or less. There has also been a considerable improvement in my field.

My progress has been slow, but it is sure, and I see no reason why it should not continue until I get a complete cure. I have spent many hours a day palming, and this, when it is successful, softens the eyeball and improves the sight very materially. I am also able to soften the eyeball simply by a thought—that is, by the memory of some object or incident. A white cloud, the blue sky, some incident of my boyhood, or of a more recent period—anything so long as it is remembered perfectly—has this extraordinary effect. Often when I wake in the morning my eyeballs are hard, but by the aid of my memory I am always able to soften them. One morning I woke at two o’clock, and went to the bathroom. There, in accordance with a habit of mine, I washed my face in cold water. As I touched my eyeballs I was shocked to find how hard they were. They were like two rocks. Immediately I paid a mental visit to Van Cortland Park and began to examine the trees, noticing the texture of the bark, the gum oozing out of it, the outlines of the leaves, etc., and before I had reached the second tree the eyeballs were soft. Often since then I have resorted to the same expedient, and always with the same result. Fortunately I know the different kinds of trees very well, and my visits to the park are interesting as well as profitable.

On the streets and elsewhere I try to imagine that everything is moving, and as long as I am able to do this the eyeballs remain soft. Since I have been under treatment I have been trying to learn to sleep on my back, as the Doctor says that the body is always under a strain unless the spine is straight. When I am able to do this I waken without pain or hardness in the eyeballs.
Recently I sent one of Dr. Bates’ reprints to the specialist who wanted to operate on me, and he said he was much interested.


10: Absolute Glaucoma


In absolute glaucoma there is no perception of light, and the condition is considered to be incurable. It may or may not be accompanied by pain, and in the latter case the only remedy is believed to be the enucleation, or removal of the eye. So far as the editor is aware there is no case of absolute glaucoma on record in which the pain has been relieved, or any measure of sight restored, by any method except the one described below.
A few months ago there came to the clinic a woman of seventy-nine. At first glance one could see that she was a lady, and I guessed that at one time she had been very well off. As she stood apart from the rest of the patients waiting to be attended to she took not the slightest notice of what was going on around her, and occasionally I heard her moan with pain.

When at last Dr. Bates was able to examine her he found that she had glaucoma in both eyes, and that the right was stone blind, possessing not even light perception. He turned her over to me, asking me to do what I could to help her and stop her pain. Fortunately I was able to find a stool for her, a rare thing at the clinic, and placing it before a table upon which she could rest her elbows, I showed her how to palm, which she did very readily. After a few minutes the pain ceased and the eyeballs became soft. I now told her to take down her hands, but she still kept her eyes shut. I thought this was because I had not told her to open them, but when I told her she might do so she asked:

"Are you sure the pain will not come back if I open them. For many days I have suffered such constant pain that I cannot sleep at night, and now I feel such a sense of relief that I would really like to keep my eyes closed."
"I don’t think the pain will come back," I said, "and if it does you can palm again."

I now held a test card about two feet from her eyes, and told her to cover her better eye and look at the card with the blind one. We had several visiting doctors at the clinic that day, and Dr. Bates had told them about this case of absolute glaucoma. They were all standing by, with Dr. Bates himself, when I asked the patient to look at the card, and the excitement was intense when she said that she saw the large letter at the top.

"Oh, Doctor," I said, "she sees it!"

"Yes, I see it, I really see it," added the patient, scarcely able to credit her senses.

After a little more treatment I told her she must keep her eyes shut as much as possible when she was at home, and palm every minute she could get. I also told her never to look at any point more than a second, but to keep constantly shifting. She went away very happy and grateful, for the pain had not come back.

The next time she came Dr. Bates treated her, and was able to improve the vision of the right eye to 9/200, while that of the left eye improved to 9/40. He then turned her over to me again. She was very happy and wanted to talk, which I let her do. She said she was living in a furnished room and that I hadn’t any idea how worried she had been about going blind, because she had no one to look after her.

"But now," she added, "I have all sorts of hopes for the relief of my trouble, because you and Dr. Bates have done so much for me. Palming helps me so much that I am now able to sleep at night. I like to do it for hours at a time, because it takes the terrible pain away."

I now told her to use her imagination to improve her sight and relieve the pain. Most of the clinic patients become confused when I ask them to do this, but this dear old lady did not find it a bit difficult. I told her to palm, and then imagine a florist’s window filled with flowers. Next I told her to imagine that she had entered the shop and was observing the flowers, and I called to her mind the red rose and the white rose, the carnation, the violet and other blossoms. Then I asked her if she could imagine the green fields in the country where the daisies grow, and she said:

"Yes, and I can imagine that I am picking the daisies also."

I now told her to remove her hands from her eyes, and Dr. Bates was thrilled when she saw the T on the thirty line at ten feet. The patient herself laughed out loud and said:

"I cannot believe it."

She came to the clinic regularly, three days a week, for quite a while, and always happy because she was steadily improving. I was not prepared, therefore, to find her one day looking very much depressed. The trouble was that she had had a visitor who talked to her—or at her, I should say—for two long hours; this had upset her nerves so that the pain had returned and her vision had been lowered. I pictured to myself what it must mean to listen to a steady stream of gossip for two hours, and my sight at once became imperfect. I told her what a dangerous thing it was for her to allow herself to be tortured in this way, and said that if her friends insisted upon talking to her for such a length of time she must keep her eyes closed as much as possible. Otherwise the strain would cause her to go blind.

For a time she got along nicely. Then I left the city for a much-needed vacation, and while I was away I got word that she was getting worse. I came back to town, and, as she was not able to come to the clinic, I called upon her.

"Oh, nurse," she said, as soon as she saw me, "my right eye pains me so that I think of nothing but death."

Her thin face was lined with pain, and I could see that she was in agony. I began to talk to her about the days when she did not suffer, and how she had stopped the pain by remembering the daisies. She began to palm without my telling her to, and became able to imagine the daisy waving in the breeze. I asked her to imagine that her body was swinging with the flower. She did this, and in a few minutes her pain left her and she smiled.
"Now, isn’t it strange," she remarked, "but I forgot all about using my imagination."

She said that I had worked a miracle; but I explained that when she used her imagination she had to relax enough to relieve the strain in her eyes, and that had stopped the pain.

We often hear the remark, "This person makes me sick," or "That person makes me nervous," but it remained for my glaucoma patient to make me realize that these observations are literal statements of fact. All about the walls of her little room, which was very clean and sunshiny, were photographs of her children and their families. With great pride she named each one in turn, but when she came to the picture of a man and woman hanging a little apart from the rest her tone changed.

"This is my daughter," she said of the woman, and I could see that she was very fond of her, but when she pointed to the man she said:

"I cannot bear him. He makes me nervous and sick, because he is not a good man."

She began to strain at once, and had to do some palming before I left to relieve her pain. Evidently it is important, if we want to avoid eyestrain, that we should keep away from the people we dislike, and think of them as little as possible.

I called on her a few times more, and by resting her eyes between each line of letters she became able to read 10/20 with the once blind eye and 10/10 with the other. The last time I saw her she was happy and comfortable.

Better Eyesight Magazine, Jan 1924:



Ms. Z., the mother of four children and the wife of a very wealthy farmer, was referred to me by a local physician who apparently believed what I said when I told him I felt reasonably sure that I could benefit a glaucomatous case which he had been unsuccessful in treating for several weeks. He wanted the lady to undergo an operation (an iridectomy) but she refused, thanks to the Lord and Dr. Bates.

When she called on me she felt rather skeptical, but as she said afterwards, “I was willing to take a chance inasmuch as it did not necessitate an operation.”

She was unable to recognize the big “C” at six feet. In fact she could not count the fingers on my right hand at five feet. When she tried to read the card I noted a slight tilting of the head, and I felt sure this was due to eccentric fixation. I explained to her that she made an effort to see every character on the card equally well, and that if she wanted to improve her vision and see perfectly she should see one letter best and all the other letters on the Snellen Test card worse. I then had her palm for ten minutes, after which she was able to read the 10/70 line. Then I told her to “flash,” trying not to see the characters all equally well but just the one she was looking at should be seen best and all the other letters worse. She was enabled by this exercise to read the 10/40. Her husband, who was standing beside me while I was treating her, said: “Ann, how do you like it?” and she replied, “Dr. Geis has hypnotized me.”

After eleven treatments she can read, write, sew, and to her most important of all, go to the movies. She thinks her cure is miraculous and so do her many friends, but as I tell them, “It’s all in a day’s work” and simple if one understands the fundamental principle, which is muscular relaxation, of the Bates Method correctly applied.

Better Eyesight Magazine, Jan 1928:


By W. H. Bates, M.D.

Glaucoma is a serious disease of the eyes which some years ago was considered incurable when chronic. In most cases, the eyeball was usually too hard and this is the symptom which more than any other was the strongest evidence we had that the eye was suffering from glaucoma. The field of vision was contracted on the nasal side and the pupil was usually more or less dilated; the cornea was not as sensitive as the normal eye. Sometimes the anasthesia, or that condition in which the cornea is not sensitive to the touch of a blunt pointed instrument, was quite marked. One characteristic symptom was the apparent appearance of colors around the flame of a candle or some other similar light.

Glaucoma is a disease of adult life and seldom occurs in children. Its uncertainty is unusual. For example, a person with normal eyes and normal sight may retire feeling perfectly comfortable. Sometime in the middle of the night, he may be awakened by a very intense pain, with total permanent blindness in both eyes from glaucoma. In a limited number of cases, pain may be absent, although the vision may be partially lowered. The sudden onset may not occur, but one or both eyes may slowly, without pain, after a long time, a year or longer, become totally blind.

In the American Encyclopedia of Ophthalmology, the article on glaucoma consists of 170 pages of solid type, describing facts connected with the symptoms, cause and treatment of glaucoma. These facts are so numerous that the writer did not have to repeat himself. He emphasized how little ophthalmologists actually knew about glaucoma. It is evident that many theories cannot all be true.

One authority claimed that the cause of glaucoma was connected with a loss of the iris angle (that part of the eye which is located at the outer part of the iris), when a formation of new tissue, resembling scar tissue, formed in the iris angle and acted as a sort of plug preventing the proper circulation of fluids of the eyeball, when there was less fluid in the front part of the eyeball than is found in the front part of the normal eye. Many cases were benefited by an iredectome, an operation in which a portion of the iris is removed. This theory went the way of some of the others when numerous exceptions were observed.

Another authority claimed that dilation of the pupil was an important factor in the cause of glaucoma. However, many cases were found in which the pupil was contracted as much, and in many cases more, than in the normal eye.

The results of the various methods of treatment which were suggested and practiced have been so disappointing, that we hesitate to foretell what may happen after any of them have been practiced.

It was a very welcome discovery made by my assistant, Ms. Lierman, that the relief of eyestrain always lessens tension, relieves pain and improves the vision. The discovery that relaxation methods cured glaucoma suggested that the cause was due to eyestrain. Experimental work proved this to be true. All methods of treatment which promote relaxation always benefit glaucoma. When the vision is good, a stare or strain or an effort made to see, brings on an attack of glaucoma. It is a difficult thing consciously to produce glaucoma by an effort to see. It is much easier to relax and benefit glaucoma. The writer has always felt great satisfaction in convincing patients that in order to have glaucoma and blindness, they had to go to a lot of trouble, work hard, and strain in order to produce it, but to benefit glaucoma was easy and required no effort whatever.


By seeing one part of a letter best and all the rest of the letter not so well (central fixation), the letters of the Snellen test card appear improved to the maximum. Sometimes one has trouble in imagining central fixation of all the letters. On a card at fifteen feet, a patient with glaucoma could not imagine the letter “F” by central fixation, but the figure “6” of the same size and at the same distance was imagined by central fixation quite readily. The patient became able to imagine a period on the top of the figure “6” and the rest of the letter appeared worse. Usually, however, when looking at the letter “F,” a period could not be imagined on any part of it. Sometimes, however, after the figure “6” was seen by central fixation, the patient could, by alternately shifting from the “6” to the “F,” imagine the letter also, by central fixation. I might say that there were times when the figure “6” was an optimum and the letter “F” a pessimum. Then, there were other occasions when the figure “6” was not an optimum and the symptoms of glaucoma were variable, changing, increasing, and diminishing. It is well to remember this truth, because when the patient found which letter was an optimum, or could be seen by central fixation, he was enabled to improve his vision for other letters, together with simultaneous improvement in the glaucoma.

Some of the best methods of producing relaxation are the practice of the long swing, the variable swing, the sway, palming and sun treatment. There are some people who cannot practice a certain swing correctly until after weeks of instruction. They are full of excuses and are quite ready to find fault with the method rather than with their own lack of practicing properly.

(The above mentioned methods have been described from time to time in previous issues of the magazine.)

Glaucoma may be produced solely by the memory of imperfect sight. If a person with normal eyes and normal vision presses lightly on the eyeballs through the closed eyelids and remembers or imagines a letter “O” with a gray, blurred outline very imperfect, the eyeball can be felt to increase in hardness. When the patient remembers a letter “O” perfectly, the hardness of the eyeball disappears and the eyes become normal as they were before. These experiments are offered as proof that the memory of imperfect sight is a strain which may produce glaucoma, and the memory of perfect sight a relaxation, which will relieve glaucoma. When the eye shifts, moves and uses central fixation the eye has normal softness and pressure.

One patient with acute glaucoma together with cataract could not distinguish 10/200, or the large “C” at the top of the Snellen test card. By looking at a light off to one side and flashing 10/200 alternately, the vision improved almost immediately to 10/30. She was able to remember the light when regarding the Snellen test card for a few seconds only. By alternately looking at the light and regarding the Snellen test card, her memory for the light improved, while her memory for the letters of the Snellen test card also improved.

She seemed to need supervision, because when practicing by herself, she did not flash the letters or look at them for a moment only. She stared at the light and the Snellen test card and instead of her vision improving, it became worse and it required encouragement to induce the patient to flash letters or other objects.

The memory was also improved by the practice of central fixation. When she looked at the first letter of a line of letters (placed in the center of the visual field) on the Snellen test card, she saw the other letters on the same line (in the peripheral field) not so well; the memory of letters and other objects seen by central fixation became very much better in a short time. The patient’s memory was also improved by the imagination of the halos, that is, when she regarded a white center of a letter “O” and imagined that she saw it whiter than the rest of the card, her memory and the halos also improved.

Case Reports

Case One

A woman, fifty years of age, was suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, incipient cataract and chronic glaucoma. After daily treatment for six months, the vision was improved from 10/200 to normal. Palming, shifting and swinging gave the best results. She acquired the habit of imagining stationary objects to be constantly moving. The objects in her rooms, the furniture, window shades, the rugs, the ceiling, in fact all stationary objects seen could be imagined to be moving whenever she moved her head and eyes. Alternately looking at the sun and stationary objects in the house improved her sight. When she was out of doors, she imagined the sidewalk to be coming towards her, or if she looked to one side, that the buildings or other objects were moving in the opposite direction. (Oppositional Movement)

Another method which helped her was to stand before a window and imagine the curtain cord to be moving in the opposite direction as she swayed her body from side to side, while a building in the distance appeared to be moving in the same direction as the movement of her body. Oppositional Movement = When moving the eyes, head, body left, right, up, down, any direction: close objects appear to move in the opposite direction, distant objects appear to move in the same direction the eyes, head, body move to and close and distant objects appear to move against eachother in opposite directions.

Distant objects actually appear to move opposite but move so slow in the opposite direction that they appear to move in the same direction the eyes, head, body are moving to. The function of oppositional movement helps the brain determine depth, distance, placement, space of objects at different distances, dimension, 3-D vision, binocular vision, fusion, ability to calculate the time it takes to travel to, from a object… and other functions of the brain, body, visual system.

It was very interesting to observe that the pigment spots of the retinitis pigmentosa were disappearing from view; the symptoms of glaucoma also disappeared gradually. When she remembered perfect sight, one could, with the ophthalmoscope, see the cataract immediately becoming less. When she remembered imperfect sight, the cataract became very opaque. Besides obtaining normal sight for the distance, she became able to read diamond type at six inches without glasses.

In the beginning of the treatment, the left eye was the better eye. However, the left eye was treated for more than six months before normal vision was obtained, while the vision of the right eye improved from 10/200 to 20/20 after only one week of treatment.

This patient was very grateful for the benefit she received and could not understand why many of the ophthalmologists whom she had consulted previously did not refer her to me. Her constant question was: “If these other doctors could not cure me, why did they not send me to the doctor who could?”

Case Two

A physician had been in the habit of attending a gymnasium and after he had finished with his exercises he usually bathed in the pool. The exercise and the bathing seemed to agree with him perfectly and although he had been taking these baths almost daily, no injury to his eyes could be detected. One night he was awakened by a severe pain in both eyes, which stopped only after the use of morphine. In the morning he was practically blind.

The doctor whom he consulted said that he was suffering from glaucoma and iritis. The iris was inflamed and the pupil opaque from the presence of inflammatory exudation. The eyeballs were very hard. This severe inflammation continued for more than six months. Accidentally, he heard of my method and came to see me, very hopeful. He told me, after relating the above, that he had had my book read to him and that he had felt decidedly encouraged.

Upon examining him, I found the eyeballs very hard, his field of vision contracted more on the nasal side than elsewhere; the pupils of both eyes contracted and his sight reduced to 1/200. He asked me if I thought that his eyes had been infected or if he had injured his eyes by striking the water when he dove into it. I told him that I did not believe that had anything to do with it, and that his trouble was brought on by mental strain.

The patient was advised to practice at home those measures which had already improved his sight while he was at my office, palming, swinging and sun treatment. At his second visit, a few days later, he was further encouraged. The redness of the white part of the eyes had entirely disappeared. The pupil was no longer contracted, but was dilated to the same extent as is found in most normal eyes.

He was much pleased that the sun treatment had been of marked benefit. He said that he had read in many eye books that persons suffering from iritis should protect their eyes from the injurious effects of the light by wearing dark glasses. He also said that he was convinced that the sunlight and other forms of light were a benefit to his iritis and not an injury.

His condition continued to improve, and in a few days he was able to read the large type of a newspaper without discomfort. I said to him: “why don’t you read the small type?” He answered that he was afraid he would strain his eyes. My answer to this was to hand him a card on which was printed some sentences of diamond type. He was able, much to his surprise, to read the diamond type at about six inches. This amused him so much that one could hear him laughing almost a block away. He compared his ability to read fine type with his ability to read the large type of a newspaper and found that the diamond type was easier. He said: “Why is it that I see the diamond type easier than I do the large print?” I replied that it was because in order to read the diamond type, his mind had to be relaxed. If he strained, he could not read it. If he could not read it, he strained. He was advised to read as much diamond type as he had time for.

The patient was encouraged to keep up the treatment until a complete cure was obtained.

By Emily C. Lierman

This article contains descriptions, directions for a variety of Bates Treatments

A man, aged 68, with absolute glaucoma was brought to me by his physician, who was quite sure that the Bates Method could do nothing to restore his sight. This man had had three operations on both eyes; the first operation was performed in the year 1924. He had no perception of light in the right eye and could see but very little with his left eye, not more than 1/200. The doctor who brought him was the most skeptical person I have ever come in contact with. His manner in regard to the method was almost insulting, and I resented his attitude very much. I had a conversation with him over the telephone previous to the appointment which was made with his patient. He was to give me an hour with this man, and if at the end of that time I could improve the patient’s sight, even a particle, he would believe that Dr. Bates was right when he claimed that glaucoma was curable by his method.

I never felt more determined in my life to do the best that was in me for this patient. Before the hour of his appointment, I sent him my book, “Stories from the Clinic” by special messenger to him and asked him to read what I had written about the relief of strain in glaucoma.

When the doctor entered my office with his patient, one could see by his face that he was ready to prove that his patient would receive no benefit in his sight. I was in a fighting mood myself and my eyes, I feel sure, told him of my determination to prove that he was wrong and I was right. I informed the doctor immediately that even though his patient was a wealthy man, I would not accept a fee at this time, but if the patient received further treatment from me or from Dr. Bates, he would have to pay a bonus in advance besides the regular fee, for the hard work which would be before us. As I look back upon that day and hour which I spent with his patient, I realize how hard I worked.

The right eye, as I have said, had no sight at all because the retina was almost destroyed and there were other complications caused by the operations. Because of this, it was not necessary for my patient to cover his right eye while the left eye was being tested.

I produced the white test card with black letters, as the patient sat by a window with the sunlight shining on the whole card. I watched to see what effect the strong light reflected on the card would produce. Immediately the patient drew back, as if the strong light hurt his sight. I was pleased to note this, as I knew then that the patient was sensitive to the strong light which, of course, was in my favor, because sun treatment would overcome this sensitiveness and probably improve the vision. The doctor made no comment. At one foot from his eyes, the patient could flash the 2 (200 line) letter “C” as he moved the card slowly from left to right before his eyes. More than that, he could not see without causing a great deal of effort. Then I changed the card and replaced it with the black test card with white letters, placing the card in his hand as I had the white card. I directed the patient to keep the card moving slowly from side to side and to blink as he moved the card. By doing this, he flashed the 100 line letters, one at a time. Occasionally, I glanced at the doctor’s face to see whether he was pleased or not. He might have been a sphinx for the lack of interest which he showed.

My next plan was to have the patient palm, which I told him how to do, and while he was palming, I asked him to tell me what interests he had in life. He said he was a banker, so I advised him to remember figures on bank notes as well as he could; also to remember other things in regard to the work which he is most interested in. I avoided any unpleasant conversation regarding his eye trouble, which he unconsciously referred to from time to time.

I explained to him that his poor sight worried him more than he realized, but if he believed in what I was trying to do for him, he would not feel so hopeless in time to come. Jokingly, and half in earnest, I remarked, “You must have a better attitude of mind than your doctor has at the present time,” which brought for the first time a smile to the face of the doctor. The patient said he was willing to believe that I could help him and I know that he meant it.

While the patient was palming, I placed the large black test card with white letters upon a test-card stand, which I arranged five feet from where the patient was sitting, and in an ordinary light. Again I looked at the doctor, but he made no sign of being in doubt or otherwise. This would have been discouraging, I know, to most of our students, but I have had so much experience with people like him, that I paid no more attention to him than if he were not in the room. It was the only way for me to keep from either weeping or gnashing my teeth.

After the patient had palmed for more than ten minutes and had removed his hands from his eyes, I asked him to stand. As I held both his arms at the elbow, I asked him to sway from side to side with me. Of his own accord the patient remarked, with a smile, how relaxing it was to sway his body, and that he enjoyed doing it. At first he did not recognize the card where I had placed it, and I myself did not mention to him what I had done while he was palming. I told him that he was to keep up the swing of his body until he discovered the test card and was able to read some of the letters. I also informed him that he was not to try hard to see any letter, but to keep up the sway.

Anyone interested in our work can imagine how happy I was to hear him say, “I think the middle letter of the third line is an ‘O’.” Before I allowed him to go any further, I told him to sit down again and palm. I felt that the palming had had as much to do with the improvement in his sight as did the swinging of his body. While the patient was palming, I told him to remember anything which was pleasant, that it did not matter much what it was. Some patients enjoy remembering a sunset, or a white cloud in a blue sky. I reminded him of these things and also told him it was necessary for him to shift from one thing to another and not to concentrate on any one thing.

While he palmed, he said that he had had a bad habit for years of concentrating or trying to concentrate, which he thought was beneficial, but now realized that this produced more strain and discomfort. It was nice to hear the patient explain these little things to me, because it proved to the doctor who brought him that he was anxious to help me in what I was trying to do for him. This time the patient palmed for about fifteen minutes and then we started the standing sway of the body, having him blink regularly as he did before. This time, he read every letter of the 5 line (also called 50 line on other eyecharts), seeing one letter at a time and looking away quickly to avoid staring. A great feeling of satisfaction came over me as I saw that the doctor was watching the patient closely. Nothing was said, however, because we both felt the need of silence at this time.

The patient began to strain unconsciously to read the next line of letters, but I avoided having him read any further until he had again rested his eyes by palming. This time it was not necessary for me to again remind him to use his memory, for he immediately mentioned how white the letters looked on the black background when he did not look at the card longer than a fraction of a second: I said that it was a good thing for him to alternately remember the black margin of the card and then remember the white letters as he saw them, or if he possibly could, without an effort, to imagine the letters whiter than he really saw them. After he had rested his eyes in this way for ten minutes or longer, I placed him in the sun, and with my sun-glass I focused the strong rays on his closed eyelids. Some patients draw away when they first receive the sun treatment, but this patient enjoyed the strong light of the sun from the start, which made it easier for me to treat him.

After the sun treatment, he again read the test card at the same distance, and this time, he read all of the 3 line. (30 line) The patient turned to me and thanked me for my efforts and for what I had done for him. He also told me that he would try to do without the strong magnifying glass which he had been using for a few years to help him in his work. l explained how dangerous it was for him to continue the use of the magnifying glass even though it helped him to see things better at the time. As this patient had never heard of the Bates Method before, I am not sure that he realized the importance of what I explained to him. I really helped him and improved his vision from 1/200 to 1/6 of normal in one hour’s time under unfavorable conditions, for which he was grateful.

As the time for the treatment was over, I had to let the patient go, but I had satisfied the skeptical doctor who not only fought me with his mind, but also tried to prove to me that Dr. Bates’ statements were false when he claimed to relieve tension in glaucoma and also improve the sight when other methods had failed.

I never saw this patient again, because he lived a great distance from my office, but I feel sure that the doctor is no longer skeptical, but is at this time helping others in the cure of imperfect sight without glasses.

Better Eyesight Magazine, Sept 1927:

W.H. Bates, M.D.


Glaucoma is a serious disease of the eyes. In most cases, the eyeball becomes hard and this hardness can be felt by pressing lightly on the closed eyelid with the fingers. For the relief of this hardness, various operations have been performed to promote the escape of the fluids of the eyes. These operations have not always been satisfactory. Many cases of glaucoma have been relieved for a limited period of time, but sooner or later, become totally blind. When blindness occurs, operations have usually failed to restore the sight.
CAUSE. (and symptoms) The theory that the disease is caused by a hardening of the eyeball is incorrect, because we find cases of glaucoma in which the eyeball is not increased in hardness, and there are cases of hardening of the eyeball in which there is no glaucoma. The normal eye may be hardened temporarily by conscious eyestrain. The cause of glaucoma, in all cases, is eyestrain, and may be demonstrated as follows: When the normal eye has normal sight, it is not under a strain. When a letter or an object is remembered or imagined imperfectly, the eyeball at once becomes hard. Other symptoms of glaucoma may also be observed, namely, one may see rainbow colors around the flame of a lighted candle. Another symptom is the pulsation of one or more of the retinal arteries. In most cases, severe pain has been observed.
Patients with glaucoma usually suffer not only in ways already mentioned, but also from other symptoms just as severe and more difficult to describe. Glaucoma affects the nervous system and produces not only extreme depression but disturbances in all the nerves and organs of the body.

Treatment. When a person is suffering from glaucoma, the memory of perfect sight produces complete relaxation with a temporary cure of the glaucoma.
Too many cases of absolute glaucoma, totally blind with no perception of light, suffering an agony of pain with great tension or hardness of the eyeball, have been enucleated. Acute, absolute glaucoma may have no manifest organic changes in the eyes. When the eyestrain is relieved by palming, swinging and the use of a perfect memory or imagination, these cases have always obtained temporary relief at once and a permanent relief by the continuation of the relaxation treatment.

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Author: David

I founded iblindness.org in 2002 as I began reading books on the Bates Method and became interested in vision improvement. I believe that everyone who is motivated can identify the roots of their vision problems and apply behavioral changes to solve them.

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Thank you so much for your reply, so if he does the palming without pressing the eyeballs, it can really help with glaucoma right? because right now there are 2 doctors with 2 different methods that come with extreme consequence, which is blindness, if not doing what they see best. The first one recommended my dad to do the palming, or what he called as eye massage, along with using eye drops regulary. The second doctor recommended him to do the laser and stop with the palming or else it could bline him. Therefore, I would like to know whether the palming method is really working in term of curing the glaucoma or should we go with the laser and maybe surgery after that. I am so thankful for your reply. Thank you so much for taking your time.


Hello, may I ask more about the palming since my dad has been doing it for sometimes by the recommendation of a doctor in my country, however, they are some other doctors who have told my dad to stopping it or else it could blind him, which it worries our family so much. Therefore, I would like to ask of how to do the palming properly and does this method works because we do believe that it do work but got a very frighten warning from doctors. It would be a huge benefit if you could give use some clarity. Thank you so much for your time.

Martine Free

What is the therapy used in the cases above apart from swinging, central fixation and palming? I would be interested to know.


thank you for this inspiring and accurate information- not trying to sell products but to teach principles of health and well-being in an instance (glaucoma) where the medical profession is all doom and gloom. Very much appreciated – I found this at exactly the right time 🙂