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notes on looking at details and changing
#46
Many variables, ok, here we go with Bates, yiha:

...It is impossible for the eye to fix a point longer than a fraction of a second. If it tries to do so, it begins to strain and the vision is lowered...

...It is impossible to remember even such a simple thing as a period perfectly black and stationary for more than a fraction of a second...

...We cannot by any amount of effort make ourselves see, but by learning to control our thoughts we can accomplish that end indirectly...

...Perfect sight is impossible without continual shifting, and such shifting is a striking illustration of the mental control necessary for normal vision. It requires perfect mental control to think of thousands of things in a fraction of a second; and each point of fixation has to be thought of separately, because it is impossible to think of two things, or of two parts of one thing, perfectly at the same time. The eye with imperfect sight tries to accomplish the impossible by looking fixedly at one point for an appreciable length of time;

...Whether one has imperfect or normal sight, conscious shifting and swinging are a great help and advantage to the eye; for not only may imperfect sight be improved in this way, but normal sight may be improved also. When the sight is imperfect, shifting, if done properly, rests the eye as much as palming, and always lessens or corrects the error of refraction...

...If you imagine a letter perfectly, you will see the letter and other letters in its neighborhood will come out more distinctly, because it is impossible for you to relax and imagine you see a perfect letter and at the same time strain and actually see an imperfect one...

...When the eye with normal vision regards a letter either at the nearpoint or at the distance, the letter may appear to pulsate, or to move in various directions, from side to side, up and down, or obliquely...

...Whenever the eye tries to see, it at once ceases to have normal vision. A person may look at the stars with normal vision; but if he tries to count the stars in any particular constellation, he will probably become myopic, because the attempt to do these things usually results in an effort to see...

...Since central fixation is impossible without mental control, central fixation of the eye means central fixation of the mind. It means, therefore, health in all parts of the body, for all the operations of the physical mechanism depend upon the mind. Not only the sight, but all the other senses - touch, taste, hearing and smell - are benefited by central fixation. All the vital processes - digestion, assimilation, elimination, etc. - are improved by it. The symptoms of functional and organic diseases arc relieved. The efficiency of the mind is enormously increased...

...When the eye possesses central fixation it not only possesses perfect sight, but it is perfectly at rest and can be used indefinitely without fatigue. It is open and quiet; no nervous movements are observable; and when it regards a point at the distance the visual axes are parallel. In other words, there are no muscular insufficiencies...The muscles of the face and of the whole body are also at rest, and when the condition is habitual there are no wrinkles or dark circles around the eyes...

...When the eye possesses central fixation it not only possesses perfect sight, but it is perfectly at rest and can be used indefinitely without fatigue. It is open and quiet; no nervous movements are observable; and when it regards a point at the distance the visual axes are parallel. In other words, there are no muscular insufficiencies...The muscles of the face and of the whole body are also at rest, and when the condition is habitual there are no wrinkles or dark circles around the eyes...

...We see very largely with the mind, and only partly with the eyes. The phenomena of vision depend upon the mind's interpretation of the impression upon the retina. What we see is not that impression, but our own interpretation of it...

...It is impossible to see, remember, or imagine anything, even for as much as a second, without shifting from one part to another, or to some other object and back again; and the attempt to do so always produces strain...

...When shifting is not done unconsciously patients must be encouraged to do it consciously. They may be directed, for instance, to remember successively a black hat, a black shoe, a black velvet dress, a black plush curtain, or a fold in the black dress or the black curtain, holding each one not more than a fraction of a second...

...The act of seeing is passive. Things are seen, just as they are felt, or heard, or tasted, without effort or volition on the part of the subject. When sight is perfect the letters on the test card are waiting, perfectly black and perfectly distinct, to be recognized...

...The human eye and mind are not only capable of this rapidity of action, and that without effort or strain, but it is only when the eye is able to shift thus rapidly that eye and mind are at rest, and the efficiency of both at their maximum. It is true that every motion of the eye produces an error of refraction; but when the movement is short, this is very slight, and usually the shifts are so rapid that the error does not last long enough to be detected by the retinoscope, its existence being demonstrable only by reducing the rapidity of the movements to less than four or five a second. The period during which the eye is at rest is much longer than that during which an error of refraction is produced. Hence, when the eye shifts normally no error of refraction is manifest. The more rapid the unconscious shifting of the eye, the better the vision; but if one tries to be conscious of a too rapid shift, a strain will be produced...

...The world moves. Let it move. All objects move if you let them. Do not interfere with this movement, or try to stop it. This cannot be done without an effort which impairs the efficiency of the eye and mind...

...In learning to see best where he is looking it is usually best for the patient to think of the point not directly regarded as being seen less distinctly than the point he is looking at, instead of thinking of the point fixed as being seen best, as the latter practice has a tendency, in most cases, to intensify the strain under which the eye is already laboring. One part of an object is seen best only when the mind is content to see the greater part of it indistinctly, and as the degree of relaxation increases the area of the part seen worse increases until that seen best becomes merely a point...

...Neither imagination nor memory can be perfect unless the mind is perfectly relaxed. Therefore when the imagination and memory are perfect, the sight is perfect. Imagination, memory and sight are, in fact, coincident. When one is perfect, all are perfect, and when one is imperfect, all are imperfect...

...Different people will find these various methods of shifting more or less satisfactory. If any method does not succeed, it should be abandoned after one or two trials and something else tried. It is a mistake to continue the practice of any method which does not yield prompt results. The cause of the failure is strain, and it does no good to continue the strain...

...In myopia the following method is often successful:
First look at a letter at the point at which it is seen best. Then close the eyes and remember it. Repeat until the memory is almost as good as the sight at the nearpoint. With the test card at a distance of twenty feet, look at a blank surface a foot or more to one side of it, and again remember the letter. Do the same at six inches and at three inches. At the last point note the appearance of the letters on the card - that is, in the eccentric field. If the memory is still perfect, they will appear to be a dim black, not grey, and those nearest the point of fixation will appear blacker than those more distant. Gradually reduce the distance between the point of fixation and the letter until able to look straight at it and imagine that it is seen as well as it is remembered. Occasionally it is well during the practice to close and cover the eyes and remember the letter, or a period, perfectly black. The rest and mental control gained in this way are a help in gaining control when one looks at the test card.
Patients who succeed with this method are not conscious while imagining a perfect letter, of seeing, at the same time, an imperfect one, and are not distracted when their vision is improved by their imagination..

...Shifting and swinging, as they give the patient something definite to do, are often more successful than other methods of obtaining relaxation, and in some cases remarkable results have been obtained simply by demonstrating to the patient that staring lowers the vision and shifting improves it...

...The human mind is busy as long as we are awake. We remember many things and are consciosuly or unconsciously shifting from one thing to another. Those things that we remember, we imagine we see. If we imagine we see a letter perfectly, continuously, it is all done easily without effort or strain...

...The eye with normal sight never tries to see. If for any reason, such as the dimness of the light, or the distance of the object, it cannot see a particular point, it shifts to another. It never tries to bring out the point by staring at it, as the eye with imperfect sight is constantly doing...
#47
@hammer: Nice quotes! Smile

By the way, I think you might be taking the analogies a bit...too far. They're analogies in the sense that they're related, but they don't have to be similar in every aspect. I had actually not thought so far as to include rhythm into my considerations. My analogies were, in fact, only intended to be similar to the Bates method in that it seems impossible to achieve, but there are actually just a few "pieces" that we need to complete the puzzle. I can't speak for sean, but I think that was his intention as well.


Anyway, I had about 30 minutes to try the detail thing without many distractions and I noticed something that I think I understand, but am not sure about. As I focused on a faraway tree and looked for more and more detail, I noticed that my peripheral vision (trees closer and off to the side) was sort of foggy. Now, I don't know what this means, but I take it as a sign that this is the way things should be? That objects in the peripheral vision really shouldn't be clear? Can someone please let me know if I'm right or wrong? Thanks Smile.
#48
Dr. Bates was not 'myopic'. He prevented his own so-called 'myopia', and cured, reversed, or prevented his own presbyopia. He prevented and reversed 'myopia' in others. But he did not personally ever have 'myopia'! Therefore his pronouncements regarding myopia must be regarded as somewhat suspect.
I have had 'myopia' all my life. I independently and without knowledge of Dr. Bates' methods used similar methods to produce flashes of clear distance vision. I have successfully but temporarily reversed my 'myopia' using Dr. Bates' methods and modifications to them.
Dr. Bates made his discoveries prior to or simultaneous with the discoveries of Dr. Freud regarding the unconscious and its relation to neuroses and psychosomatic disorders. Dr. Bates' methods and the science of psychology postdate the science of opthalmology.
I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Michigan State University.
Using methods of psychology and psychotherapy I have uncovered facts pertaining to my own nearpoint fixation disorder.
The knowledge of those facts, combined with observations of and participation in methods accidentally demonstrated by my father-in-law, have resulted in prolonged but still temporarily improved distance and overall vision.
Dr. Bates was a genius, but even geniuses like Edison admitted to improvements to their discoveries.
#49
Pikachu,
Yes, the center of the visual field (seen by the macula) is very clear and a very small area, and the periphery is less clear, in normal healthy vision. The farther out you notice the periphery away from the center the more blurry it will be. Walking outside yesterday I did some looking for details with autumn leaves and had some success -- the only place I've practiced this consistently before is indoors on the chart. As David says, as soon as I get distracted at all I lose the effect, so I'm hoping with more practice this will become more natural and automatic for me. Right now I can't even imagine doing it when I'm interacting with someone else.
#50
@JMartinC4: Very true. It is more than likely that the Bates method can be further improved, but you have to admit: It already works very well for those who are dedicated enough to follow it.

@Nancy: That's my problem as well. I have to say to myself that I'm looking for details or I just stop doing it. That's to be expected of course. If I were able to do it without my own prompting, I wouldn't have these problems to begin with.
#51
JMartin and others,
I actually have been a bit puzzled regarding Bates method when it comes to if this method concerns myopia or presbyopia, or was aimed to cover both.
Do Bates mix up presbyopia treatment with myopia treatment, since Bates was presbyopic, I think so, correct me if I am wrong, please ?
For instance if Bates tells presbyopic people not to stare, then myopic people should actually do the opposite regarding this and thus myopic people instead should be able to observe a detail for a longer time, like Dave says, and thus myopics need to be incredulous regarding Bates concerning this.
Bates needed strengthened relaxed eyemuscles to cure his presbyopia, just writing sound logic.
A myopic person needs to relax his/her eyemuscles to cure his/her myopia,
but it is not so important for a myopic person to strengthen the eyemuscles, at least according to my sound logic, please correct me if I am wrong here. It is easier to strengthen eyemuscles than it is to relax them, thus it is easier to cure presbyopia than it is to cure myopia.
Thus if a myopic person doesn't understand this then he/she will likely get worse eyesight and might get depressed and puzzled due to this, which makes the whole thing even worse of course and so on.
If a myopic person understands this then he/she will focus on only dynamic relaxation of the eyemuscles and thus instead the vision will improve.
This is also something that shows up in society as a non acceptance of Bates, because there are so many depressed and puzzled people out there that is angry with themselves for being so stupid not to understand this, and thus the Bates method is brought into dark lights, when the original problem was actually some misunderstanding of how actually a myopic person is supposed to be able to get improved eyesight.
#52
Dancing analogy: sorry for confusing you on this folks. Yes, Pikachu, you are right, it has nothing to do with rhythm etc, I was really just trying to say that without someone actually there to show you there are so many ways you can get simple instructions wrong and end up not learning something properly. (I once saw a friend come into the pub, spend 10 mins looking at the feet of a good dancer - he then left again and reappeared 2 weeks later with the most extraordinary way of dancing that nobody who saw it could stop laughing, it was so odd! But he'd only been practising what he thought the other dancer was doing.) David has kindly offered to work with our feedback and make this topic as clear and understandable as possible so we don't end up doing it all wrong. This offer is too good to pass up!

Pikachu: "I noticed that my peripheral vision... was sort of foggy". I was really pleased to read that. On Friday evening I went out with my son and while he cycled about I spent a nice while trying this out. I was looking at a car registration plate, not far away really, but it was all blur. It cleared up, but in a different way to what I have been used to. Instead of the whole plate clearing I noticed that the letter I was looking at was clear (in fact, the different parts of the letter became clear as I looked at them) while the others were blurry. Text-book Bates - but new to me (except when watching football on tv when occasionally the player I'm looking at appears clear with everything else unclear). I definitely see this as a sign that we are doing something right. (David?)
someunexpe
#53
Also, just to say that on Friday when I posted my comment I had just done some imagination work. I had been doing it rather mechanically for some weeks, by and large, and had realized that this was my subconscious (or whatever) trying to sabotage the whole thing. So I did this exercise with firm intent to make it real and meaningful and met with resistance that was more overt, less surreptitious amd veiled, than usual. I actually experienced it as a strong phyiscal and mental aversion and when I wrote my comment I was actually shaken. Good. All change is welcome: **** the cosy consenus! Smile
#54
Sean wrote:
Quote:It cleared up, but in a different way to what I have been used to. Instead of the whole plate clearing I noticed that the letter I was looking at was clear (in fact, the different parts of the letter became clear as I looked at them) while the others were blurry. Text-book Bates...
I've experienced this too during practice, and have to keep reminding myself it is the way things should look. As you write about the strong resistance you felt, I could feel something in me fighting seeing this way. It felt downright dangerous, like I was about to miss some predator in the periphery because I was looking at the center, taking a big risk. Lots to play with here -- I'm more determined than ever to keep at this now. I have noticed just a handful of times that if I can get the center really clear, the periphery is clearer too, just not as much as the center, so maybe that will be another step up when I get there more regularly. I agree that breaking my old patterns is good even if it's uncomfortable, and the only way to move forward.
#55
At least for me, that effect is rather difficult to achieve. I've also had this problem where even the center that of my visual field is blurry as well as the periphery. I'm not completely sure where I go wrong when this happens, but I'll try to figure it out.

The other odd occurence I've experienced is rather strange. The "fog" becomes so thick that I can't see through it! My guess is that this happens when I try too hard to see something I can't see.

Anyway, I'm getting better at the whole focusing at a detail thing, but it's still a challenge. One second I'll be telling myself to look for a specific detail in something and the next second I'm trying to process the whole object. Habit-breaking is never easy Sad.

I'm curious as to how you guys are practicing this. I generally try it if I can remember to. I don't have much time set aside for it given my busy schedule, but when I realize that I have time to do nothing, that's what I do (which interestingly enough is very fun when you have nothing else to do). I'm also trying to apply it to my reading and computer work, which is harder than usual, in my opinion.
#56
As far as finding a rhythm in your pattern of looking for details, what that really does is put you on a certain level of autopilot. But if you haven't yet established what consistently works, you can't make an autopilot to do it. So all you're doing is avoiding conscious attention, when that's kind of what you need to practice. You need to consciously involve yourself
in the process. It isn't supposed to be comfortable. Not until you've gotten used to the right way of doing things after enough practice and success.

With any subtleties having to do with how you see and how you look for details, you have to consider: Does this make sense as far as what a person with normal vision does?
You can play with things like memory, because it might help you notice something you may be doing that doesn't make sense, but keep going back to asking yourself that question. You have to consider that there are a lot of people in the world who aren't smart enough to have learned any special trick to it.

So just as an example in that respect, in looking over to a new object, what would a person with normal vision do? The very first thing he does wouldn't be to find details. That doesn't make sense, because he wanted to kind of locate it first and maybe see roughly what it was. So it's a dartboard. Then in an instant, after locating it and seeing the object somewhat, though not yet knowing everything about it, the next thing he does is find more about it, right? So how would he do that? It isn't a matter of bringing it into focus by doing anything special like making the object appear to swing back and forth or looking back and forth between a couple details. He doesn't know any of that. He just notices any details like the darts, looks at them, and notices further details within them like the shiny metal head of the dart. Even if there is some blur, he doesn't pay attention to that or try to fix it. He just notices some details, whether the details make sense immediately or not.

You have to break it down in very simple thinking like this. Remember that there are a lot of people out there with good vision who can't think very well, so the reason they see well isn't because of any tricks they've figured out. The only complicated thing is the mess you can get yourself into in doing it wrong.

There's really no such thing as seeing blur, as long as nothing is disturbing the light rays between the object and your eyes. The blur of myopia and other conditions is an illusion, based on how you deal with what you see. Unfocused vision is just a matter of the details being scattered a bit into the wrong places. But all the details still reach your eyes, and you choose to notice them as blur or as some individual details that are confusing but that you haven't sorted out yet. Blur can feel more comfortable in that while things aren't focused they also aren't out of place.

hammer,
I don't think Bates suggested anywhere that fixing presbyopia required strengthening the eye muscles. Do you have a quote for that?
Anyway, the whole idea of relaxing the eye muscles is misleading in what it suggests that people need to do. Relaxation has a specific context where it's applicable, in that you try to avoid any tensing of the eyes or face that you can notice while you try to see something. And when you work on avoiding that, you find that it seems impossible to go about seeing without tensing like that, and then you are forced to step back and see that really the process you're used to in "trying" to see is flawed, and the right way doesn't involve the kind of energy you're expending.

I think a lot of people do pretty much get to that point where they see that they're tensing their eyes/face while trying to see, but they get stuck there, seeing the problem but without a workable solution, and doing exercises like swinging and palming when those things aren't really what they need. They mainly just need to work on looking for details like I've attempted to describe in this thread.

Dave
Site Administrator

"Half of our funny, heathen lives, we are bent double to gather things we have tossed away." - George Meredith
#57
Dave, no I don't have such a quote, sorry. I just wrote what was logic to me, because I saw that there is such a logic, to get your reaction, and to me it is most logic that Bates cured his presbyopia in the first place with relaxing his eyemuscles and then Bates strengthened his eyemuscles such that he was able to form his eyeballs to natural shape. A myopic person also must relax his/her eyemuscles in the first place, but to me it is not so important that a myopic person needs to strengthen his/her eyemuscles that much, because if a myopic person should strengthen his/her eyemuscles too much then his/her eyeball would get longer (i.e. worsened eyesight as a result as the eyeballs already were too long). Thus a myopic person will gain more than a presbyopic person when it comes to looking at details like you describe, because the eyes are more relaxed when looking at details, because the eyes move but they don't move that much to cause strain and movement causes strain. You must also combine this with rapid shifting, so the eyes will strain for a shorter time and thus this also will be beneficial for your eyes, the Irish dance I think is much too slow so it is some unvoluntary autopilot maybe involved. So I explained my thinking because this thinking explains why it is good for a myopic person to look at details as you described. But, there is a warning that I am totally wrong here, what do you think, does it make sense ?
An other possible cause is maybe that myopia has nothing to do physically with the eyes at all and in such case the blur would be created completely in the mind instead as a defense mechanism to protect you due to saturation/overflow. What do you think, In the mind explanation I think it also will be beneficial to look at details like you described.
Another thing that is strange is: Why haven't anyone figured out this simple method to look at details before and noticed that you could improve your vision with it, why, especially when you know how many smart myopic people there have lived, I mean people have always been nearsighed, why haven't this gone public if it works, sorry it is something that is negative when it comes to if looking at details work, what was your answer to that question Dave ? Maybe it is a new discovery, that was too simple and obvious for everyone to get, like the question of universe maybe. There is such a possibility, even if it is not so likely.
#58
hammer, while presbyopia and myopia are different conditions, I'll just reiterate that there is a correct way to see, and that doesn't change depending on how you're currently doing it wrong.

I get the feeling that a lot of people, even some that are trying to work with the Bates method, see vision improvement as a matter of doing things in order to cause a change in the eyes/mind/vision/whatever. But that isn't it. There can be some physical changes in the short or long term, some of which are debated about, but this is all about fixing your flawed process of seeing that you have control over. For some reason it seems to require a big leap of faith to try looking at it in that way.

I agree that this way of looking for details isn't emphasized or described well anywhere, at least that I can find, which is why I'm trying to do so. But you also have to understand that the way Bates went about presenting his method was pretty defensive and meant to be factual rather than instructive, and you have to wonder how his personal instruction may have differed in emphasis, as well as what has been taught since by others who haven't written books.

But of course what I'm describing is based heavily on what Bates said about his own presbyopia as quoted earlier and on the principle of central fixation as he describes in his book:

Quote:The text-books say that at twenty feet an area having a diameter of half an inch can be seen with maximum vision, but anyone who tries at this distance to see every part of even the smallest letters of the Snellen test card - the diameter of which may be less than a quarter of an inch - equally well at one time will immediately become myopic. The fact is that the nearer the point of maximum vision approaches a mathematical point, which has no area, the better the sight.

For quite a while it's bothered me that almost all the material on the Bates method has to do with various exercises and doesn't focus on exactly the right way to see in every moment as is done by anyone with normal vision, or if it does at all, it talks about shifting, which is often described in a way that is unnatural or at least not a full enough explanation, and so people try it and it doesn't work well, so people focus on other things entirely to try to improve their vision. It reminds me of that joke of Nasrudim dropping his key outside his house and then going inside to look for it because the light is better in there.

So I'm interested in hearing any implementation problems people have with this or also if you have an objection that a specific part of this isn't how people with normal vision see. Nancy made a good point that those with severe myopia might need to put to use imagining details more because they see less to start with. Although still I have to wonder if it would be effective for them to just start considering the blur always as individual details like I described, all perfectly focused and all there, but scattered.

Dave
Site Administrator

"Half of our funny, heathen lives, we are bent double to gather things we have tossed away." - George Meredith
#59
@David: I think I have pretty severe myopia, and I find that it's a little difficult to find details that are further off. At the moment, I just let the "blur" remain as it is and try to find details within this blur. Is this what you mean by "considering the blur as individual details"? Also, I find it helpful to focus on as small a detail as possible (nice quote by the way) which sometimes temporarily (for about 10 seconds) improves my vision. It's much easier to do it with the corners of objects or microscopic smudges on paper, but when I try this at a distance it's more difficult. What I do is I try to focus on this "clear dot" (for lack of a better way of phrasing it), which I'm pretty sure is what one can call part of the blur. Do you think this is the correct approach? Thanks for any advice/insight/comments in advance. Smile

Incidentally, I've noticed a slightly increased level of comfort in vision. I have been able to read a book for about 20 minutes or so without feeling strain (that's sort of like a record for me) and sometimes I feel great when I walk about with little on my mind. If there's any lasting change in my vision, I don't notice it, but there are more and more times when I remember to look for details, which is nice.
#60
Pikachu Wrote:@David: I think I have pretty severe myopia, and I find that it's a little difficult to find details that are further off. At the moment, I just let the "blur" remain as it is and try to find details within this blur. Is this what you mean by "considering the blur as individual details"? Also, I find it helpful to focus on as small a detail as possible (nice quote by the way) which sometimes temporarily (for about 10 seconds) improves my vision. It's much easier to do it with the corners of objects or microscopic smudges on paper, but when I try this at a distance it's more difficult. What I do is I try to focus on this "clear dot" (for lack of a better way of phrasing it), which I'm pretty sure is what one can call part of the blur. Do you think this is the correct approach? Thanks for any advice/insight/comments in advance. Smile

Incidentally, I've noticed a slightly increased level of comfort in vision. I have been able to read a book for about 20 minutes or so without feeling strain (that's sort of like a record for me) and sometimes I feel great when I walk about with little on my mind. If there's any lasting change in my vision, I don't notice it, but there are more and more times when I remember to look for details, which is nice.

If I understand you right as far as your description in the first paragraph, yes, I think that's about right. Basically you have to get away from thinking of the blur as blur. It has to be at least a mess of details. And that's just a matter of how you think about it. You don't have to see all the details, but when you think of it this way, you'll notice individual specks, and that's good whether the details make sense yet or not. The point of it is to orient yourself towards paying attention to smaller and smaller areas or points. So when you look at something and perceive it as blur, you can first consider the blur as scattered details, at which point you'll perceive it as that and also maybe multiple overlapping images (which is good too), but then turn your attention again to not the blur itself but what you're looking at, to keep yourself focused on the 3 dimensional object in space so that your visual system can start to orient itself.

So you say it's more difficult at a distance. Can you be more specific? Is there something that happens when you try it at a distance? Or if nothing happens at all, you probably need to start by doing it a little closer.
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