Chapter 3: How The Eyes See

The faculty of visual projection is inherent, although, with
respect to distance, it appears to be acquired (p. 49).

If distant vision can be acquired, why cannot the process be
aided? It is useless to say that in most cases Nature does it in
the ordinary course of events. She does, but she does so in a
lawful way, and i£ we can find out her laws we can use them.

If the child’s eyes learn to see in the distance, how do they do
it? Is it not his attention called to objects, either.by the parent
or by the movement of the object? A child is shown an orange
for some time before he grasps the fact-and then the orange.
The moving birds or trees or animals attract him. He goes to
school and sees large objects, uses thick chalk, all his chubby
little hand muscles can `converge’ to. Later, he looks at small
letters on the board and uses smaller crayons and pencil. Much
of his early life is spent in being taught to look for detail. You
may remember the little cards on which were drawn (in outline
only) various animals. Round the outline were large black spots.
These spots were pricked by a needle and then coloured wool
was threaded through the holes so that the outline was covered
in the wool, thus training the attention through the eyes, as well
as through the fingers. Examples of this method of education
are numerous. – Movement is used as an educator when balls
are played with, or coloured streamers carried in the wind.
Drawing and modelling give not only power to the hand muscles,
but train the observation of detail.

If these principles are applied to short-sighted children or
adults, why cannot they produce the required result? In point
of fact, they do, and most of this system of eye education is based
on such known laws of eye mechanism and the.use of such by
the brain and `perceiver’ behind.

SIGHT IS A GOING OUTWARD

The mental projection of each point of the image is outwards through the nodal point (p. 49).

This aspect of the twofold process of sight is not currently
known. We often `take in’ objects, so to say, but fail to see
them” outwardly where they are. Many short-sighted people
have lost, or never had, this power. They will often say correctly
the name of the letter to which their attention is called, but will
add, “I do not see it.” A presbyopic person will also sometimes
read correctly what is written, but add, “I do not see it.” This
-peculiarity is true of hearing, for we are, at times, guilty of lack
of attention and say, “What did you say?” though before the
sentence can be repeated we have `attended’ to the former sounds
and know what had been said.

The `outward going’ aspect can be cultivated, and the process
speeded up. In parlour games, for example, memory tests, such
as remembering how many things were on a tray which we have
looked at for a short while, or a game of snap, are good. All
games are splendid practice.

THE ‘LAZY’ EYE

In the education of the eye, brain and intelligence must be
used, and, in fact, it is very necessary to `get over’ the idea that
the eye does not see; the brain sees, or records the vibrations sent
up, and the intelligence deciphers them. Unless the intelligence or
`perceiver’ wants to see, the eye will cease functioning altogether.
The `blind or lazy’ eye is an example of this. It sometimes hap-
pens that for one reason or another the child works through one
eye and not two, so one eye sees and the other remains practically
blind, though there is no actual defect in it. This is similar to the
left hand as regards writing. We are mostly right-handed, but
should we lose the power in that hand we can learn to use the
left for writing. There is nothing wrong with the left hand; it is
merely that it has not been `educated ‘or trained to write. So with
the lazy eye. Oculists have often advised people not to worry
about this, because should anything happen to the `good’ eye, the
`lazy’ one would begin to work.

Is not the whole system of education based on this principle?

DETAILS NOT OBSERVED OVER A LARGE AREA AT ONCE

Were the receptive faculty of the whole retina equally
acute, vision would be extremely confused, since it would be
impossible for the brain to appreciate at the same moment so
many details (p. 51).

This is what happens in short sight and some other defects of
vision. We can understand it better if we realise that when the
eyes are open and we are looking at something two modes of
sight are operating, two parts of the retina are being used, one
for the actual object or portion of the object, and one for the
background of the object. We look at a friend, seated in a chair.
The background of the friend is the chair, the wall, the carpet,
the ceiling, and so on. This background should not be as clear
to us as the friend, when we are looking at the friend. Even
more; only one small point of the friend should be the fore-
ground at any moment, for the eye is only capable of seeing the
minutest part of anything, clearly, at one time. The speed of
seeing seems to blend the various points observed into one whole,
as in a cinema we see the difference betwen slow motion and the
ordinary time used. If the retina is used all at once, as is the
case in very short sight or old-age sight, through the spreading
of the rays of light, then the vision is `confused’. Hence we see
why the Bates system uses the principle of looking for detail.
Another simple analogy will help. If a person with good sight
looks for a needle which has been dropped on the carpet he often
finds it difficult to see, because he is looking over too large an
area. To look over the carpet as though trying to see the needle,
instead of glancing at it all at once, expecting the needle to show
itself, is the way to find it.

In spite of all statements to the contrary, this faculty can be
acquired by right exercises.

BINOCULAR VISION DEPENDS ON CONVERGENCE

In binocular vision of a near object the eyes must be
converged or turned towards each other, so that the images
may still be formed on the macula of each. Convergence
results from contraction of the internal, with relaxation, at
the same time, of the external recti. Were convergence not
exerted, a near object would have its image on non-correspond-
ing parts of the retina and be seen double. . . . Con. is
independent of, and can be associated with, any other motor
muscular action such as lateral rotation, elevation, or depres-
sion of the eyes; indeed, depression is a usual concomitant of
Con., since the object viewed when reading, writing, sewing,
etc., is usually below the level of the eyes, and . . . Con. is
more easily effected when the eyes are lowered (p. 92).

From the foregoing it is obvious that the convergence of the
eyes towards each other is important. If this is the result of the
wntratim of the internal, and relaxation of the external recti
(mtrodca), cannot those muscles be exercised? If convergence is
easier when the eyes are turned downwards, and if, as is often
the case with hypermetropia and presbyopia, the eyes have a
tendency towards difficulty in turning downwards, would not an
exercise enabling the eyes to be depressed downwards help?
Naturally this depression is slight in reading or working, and if,
in practice, the eyes are turned downwards too much in close
work, the strain of holding that position makes itself felt. It is
better to strop the head slightly so that the eyes arc in the same
position in the face when reading as when looking straight ahead.
Since they cannot be at right-angles to the top lines of print on
a page, and to the bottom line without some movement, the
travelling of the eyes down a page gives quite enough movement.

For this reason it is not good to work too long at a flat table
or desk. If there is not a sloping desk or writing table, it is good
to prop up the book which is being read by another book so
that it slants slightly. When reading in bed, also, care should
be taken that the eyes are not held in a wrong position. The
right way to use the eyes is simple and easy; the wrong ways are
legion!!


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