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Better Eyesight Magazine - Subjects, Articles, Practices
#1
Thinking it will be fun for people to post short practice articles by Dr. Bates from his magazines, then discuss their results here and in Chat.

Heres one to start us off;

BETTER EYESIGHT
A MONTHLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED TO THE PREVENTION AND CURE OF IMPERFECT SIGHT WITHOUT GLASSES
December, 1922

THE EASY SHIFT

SOME time ago a man came to me for treatment of his eyes. Without glasses his vision was about one-half of the normal. This patient could not palm without suffering an agony of pain and depression. He had pain in different parts of his body as well as in his eyes and the pain was usually very severe. The long swing, the short swing tired him exceedingly and made his sight worse. I asked him to tell me what there was that he could remember which caused him no discomfort.
He said, "Everything that I see disturbs me if I make an effort." "I try very hard not to make an effort, but the harder I try the worse do I feel."
When he could not practice palming, swinging or memory successfully I suggested to him that he look from one side of the room to the other, paying no attention to what he saw, but to remember as well as he could a room in his home. For two hours he practiced this and was able to move his eyes from one side of the room to the other without paying any attention to the things that were moving or to the things he saw. This was a rest to him, and when his vision was tested, much to my surprise, he read the Snellen Test Card with normal vision at twenty feet. I handed him some diamond type, which he read without difficulty and without his glasses.
Since that time I have had other patients who were unable to remember or imagine things without straining and they usually obtained marked benefit by practicing the EASY SHIFT.
No one can obtain perfect sight without constantly shifting, easily, without effort. THE EASY SHIFT is easy because it is done without trying to remember, to imagine or to see. As soon as one makes an effort the shift becomes difficult and no benefit is obtained.

I always notice when I try to see; the vision goes less clear. When I am relaxed, no pressure to be perfect, no effort to see; eyesight is clear.
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#2
The very first time I had a clear flash without tearing up and having a lot of strain is when I did this unknowingly when I was tired of all the eye pain assossiated with my vision practice at that time. It seems like the simply awareness of the space around you mentally is quite enough for us to be able to see efficiently, the problem with us myopes is that the tension comes up quite automatically and the goal is to be able to successfully get away from that habit and replace it with simply easy awareness without tons of worry about whether we are doing this or that correctly or not.

Just wanted to put in my two cents, as my current successes are along this line of thought. Awareness of space seems to be very important indeed. Ironically, the pain in the nerves of the eyes seems to be immediate feedback or "punishment" that the eyes gives us for trying to force the issue. I remember bates once said that curing myopia was as quick as the thought that secures rest. Interestingly enough' myopes seemed to be addicted to the wrong type of thinking or in my case perfectionism that brings forth bad vision.

It will keep happening unless we learn better... That is what I intend to do.
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#3
I found this example of a cure most helpful:

Quote:One patient, a physician, who had worn glasses for forty years and who could not without them see the big C at twenty feet, was cured in fifteen minutes simply by imagining that he saw the letters black. When asked to describe the big C with unaided vision he said it looked grey to him, and that the opening was obscured by a grey cloud to such an extent that he had to guess that it had an opening. He was told that the letter was black, perfectly black, and that the opening was perfectly white, with no grey cloud; and the card was brought close to him so that he could see that this was so. When he again regarded the letter at the distance, he remembered its blackness so vividly that he was able to imagine that he saw it just as black as he had seen it at the near-point, with the opening perfectly white; and therefore he saw the letter on the card perfectly black and distinct. In the same way he became able to read the seventy line; and so he went down the card, until in about five minutes he became able to read at twenty feet the line which the normal eye is supposed to read at ten feet. Next diamond type was given to him to read. The letters appeared grey to him, and he could not read them. His attention was called to the fact that the letters were really black, and immediately he imagined that he saw them black and became able to read them at ten inches.
( <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.central-fixation.com/perfect-sight-without-glasses/chapter-14.php">http://www.central-fixation.com/perfect ... ter-14.php</a><!-- m --> )

When I read it for the first time, I was very much impressed by the results, especially the continouus improvement after his recovery:
Quote:The patient not only had no relapse, but continued to improve. About a year later I visited him in his office and asked him how he was getting on. He replied that his sight was perfect, both for distance and the near-point. He could see the motor cars on the other side of the Hudson River and the people in them, and he could read the names of boats on the river which other people could make out only with a telescope. At the same time he had no difficulty in reading the newspapers, and to prove the latter part of this statement, he picked up a newspaper and read a few sentences aloud. I was astonished, and asked him how he did it.

"I did what you told me to do," he said.

"What did I tell you to do?" I asked.

"You told me to read the Snellen test card every day, which I have done, and to read fine print every day in a dim light, which I have also done."

But I thought, this was a person wirh extremely good imagination, 'normal' people can't obtain the same results, we can only admire and envy such people.

Recently I began to discover what a strong 'instrument' imagination is - even used by people with 'normal' capacities.
Imagination is always 'present' in vision, otherwise you wouldn't be able to interpret and recognize what you see.
But you can 'use' it either 'positively' or 'negatively', that is either as a 'measurment scale' (negatively) to tell yourself how bad your vision is, how far it is away from the perfect image which is laid down in your memory.
Or you can use it 'positively', as a 'pattern' or 'template' to help your eyes in finding the correct adjustment.
You always have the choice....
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#4
Nini Wrote:But I thought, this was a person wirh extremely good imagination, 'normal' people can't obtain the same results, we can only admire and envy such people. .....you can use it 'positively', as a 'pattern' or 'template' to help your eyes in finding the correct adjustment.
I think that imagination is a part of the solution but there is an important physical component as well. The image has to fall on the plane of the photoreceptors accurately or these rods/cones will receive signal from multiple points of the object..which result in blur. No mental effort of the brain can process the blur into a sharp image. The imagination has to accompany extreme physical relaxation to achieve good vision. And unfortunately, I don't know how to relax my eyes fully ...and I think the solution involves physical training.
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#5
lou_deg Wrote:The imagination has to accompany extreme physical relaxation to achieve good vision. And unfortunately, I don't know how to relax my eyes fully ...and I think the solution involves physical training.

This is Bates' explanation:

Quote:The explanation of this remarkable occurrence is simply relaxation. All the nerves of the patient's body were relaxed when he imagined that he saw the letters black, and when he became conscious of seeing the letters on the card, he still retained control of his imagination. Therefore he did not begin to strain again, and actually saw the letters as black as he imagined them.

And my experience is, that the 'negative' use of imagination (that's what I used to do) is creating strain, because I use the perfect image in my mind to tell myself, that my actual vision is 'failing', that I have to do better than that, put in more effort ....
So instead of using imagination as it is meant to be used and expressed in the title of this chapter: "IMAGINATION AS AN AID TO VISION" I use it - just on the contrary -'against' my vision, as a means to 'disqualify' what I actually see.
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#6
BEM; June 1930, Bates final magazine;

Imagination Essential to Sight

By W. H. BATES, M.D.

IT IS a well-known fact that vision is a process of mental interpretation. The picture which the mind sees is not the impression on the retina, but a mental interpretation of it. To the mind objects seen appear to be in an upright position, but the picture on the retina is upside down. When the sight is normal the margins and openings of black letters on a white card appear whiter than the rest of the card, but this, of course, is not the fact, the whole background being of the same whiteness. One may seem to see a whole letter all alike at one time, but, as a matter of fact, the eye is shifting rapidly from one part to another. The letter may also seem to move although it is stationary.
When the vision is imperfect the imagination is also imperfect. The mind, in short, adds imperfections to the imperfect retinal image. A great part of the phenomena of imperfect sight are, therefore, imaginary and not in any way to be accounted for by the derangement of the visual apparatus. The color, size, form, position and number of objects regarded are altered, and non-existent objects may be seen. Some persons with imperfect sight literally see ghosts. A boy, or a grown person either, in a dark cellar, is often under such a strain that he thinks he sees sheeted figures, and one of my patients, in broad daylight, used to see little devils dancing on the tops of high buildings.
It is a great relief to patients to learn that these appearances are imaginary, and helps them to bring the imagination under control. And as it is impossible to imagine perfectly without perfect relaxation, any improvement in the interpretation of the retinal images means an improvement in the conditions which have led to a distortion of those images; for relaxation, as all regular readers of this magazine know, is the cure for most eye troubles. There is no more effective method of improving the sight, therefore, than by the aid of the imagination, and wonderful results have been obtained by this means. At times imagination almost seems to take the place of sight, as in the case of a patient who gained a high degree of central fixation in spite of the fact that the macula (center of sight) had been destroyed, or in those cases in which patients become able to imagine correctly letters which are seen only as grey spots without knowing what they are.
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#7
Thanks, I like that. Relaxation is achieved mentally, mind over body. So the solution is a psychological one. It's still hard though. How often do I tell myself to relax and my body doesn't cooperate.
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#8
lou_deg Wrote:It's still hard though. How often do I tell myself to relax and my body doesn't cooperate.
When you work with the eye chart, you can use the black colour of the letters as a means of relaxation; especially when you are able to see dark black while palming and have experienced the relaxing effect.

So you can start with palming and seeing black.
Then open your eyes and try to keep up the achieved relaxation, even get deeper relaxation if possible, with the black colour of the big letters in sight - don't try to read anything.
The letters will become clearer and blacker, and you can enjoy the sight and the feeling of relaxation - both reinforcing each other.
As soon as smaller letters become clearer and blacker, move your eyes further down without trying to accelerate the process or reading letters which are not completely clear.
I do this when I take a pause and relax (with a cup of coffee).
Sometimes I get everything completely clear till the 20/20 line, if I can't relax so much, at least till the 20/40 line (20/30 and 20/25 readable, but a bit blurry).

As Bates wrote:

Quote:When one treats patients who are willing to believe that the letters can be imagined, and who are content to imagine without trying to see, or compare what they see with what they imagine, which always brings back the strain, very remarkable results are sometimes obtained by the aid of the imagination. Some patients at once become able to read all the letters on the bottom line of the test card after they become able to imagine that they see one letter perfectly black and distinct.

(For me it was not "at once"...I took needed some time, but it made my coffe pauses more and more relaxed)

You can also try this suggestion:

Quote: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.
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#9
Test Card Practice

By Emily C. Lierman

My experience with school children and with people who are advanced in years has proved to me that daily test card practice is the quickest way completely to relieve eyestrain and imperfect sight. It is the custom always to give a patient a large test card with a small pocket size test card for home practice. Patients are encouraged to write for more help if needed further to improve their vision if they no longer come to the office for treatment. There is not a day goes by but that a patient will report that he did not have time to practice reading the test card for the improvement of his sight.
This is a natural thing, because most of us have more plans made for the day than we have time to carry out. For that reason we find the miniature test card very valuable. The card is just large enough to be placed in a dress or coat pocket. It is not necessary to spend any extra time at home in practicing with this card if the patient has a journey before him in going to or from business. Riding in trains, taxicabs, the subway or surface cars will give the patient time enough to improve the vision by practicing with the little card, even if it is only for ten minutes at a time.
If one is riding in the subway, either sitting or standing, one can use the small test card by holding it about six or eight inches away and shifting from a letter of the card to a sign directly opposite. If the print of a sign looks blurred, the print will soon clear up if one practices shifting and blinking from the letter of the card up close to the letter of the sign.
Many people whom I have helped in this way have enjoyed practicing with the signs and small test card because by the time they arrived at their destination their eyestrain was entirely relieved. It is so much easier then to use the memory for objects seen without effort or strain. One can remember part of the sign which was seen in the subway and if during the course of the day there should be a strong desire on the patient’s part to put on glasses again, all he has to do is to close his eyes for part of a minute and remember that sign. Instantaneous relief sometimes follows and this encourages the patient to practice. These small test cards are always available at the Central Fixation offices for a very small sum and there is always someone there to explain how the card can be used successfully.
Children like the small test card with numerals. The numbers are distributed so that wherever the eye glances there is always some number which can be seen perfectly within a normal distance from the eyes. Children, as a rule, are not satisfied until the card can be read normally with each eye separately. Over each line of numerals there is a small number indicating at which distance the normal eye should read it. School children who have never been to the office or seen Dr. Bates or myself have been able to improve their imperfect sight to normal by the daily use of this small card.
Sometimes children do need encouragement from their parents or from their school teachers, because they forget just as grown folks do when a thing should be done for their benefit. I have been asked this question many times: “How about younger children who cannot read or write?” For them we have a card called the “pothook” card which contains inverted “E’s.” It does not take long for a two-year-old to be taught how to say which way the “E’s” are pointing. Children soon learn how to say whether the “E’s” are pointing up, down, left or right. By shifting from one “E” to the other, they notice the white spaces between the lines of “E’s.” Unconsciously they notice that the black letter “E’s” become blacker or appear to, which is a good thing for the sight.

BEM; see entire article in the Sept, 1928 issue.
(BEM; short for Better Eyesight Magazine)
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#10
October, 1921

HOW TO OBTAIN MENTAL PICTURES

Quick Distant Vision Improvement Activity

+ Look at a letter on the Snellen test card.
+ Remember its blackness.
+ Shift the attention from one part of this spot of black to another. It should appear to move in a direction contrary to the imagined
movement.
+ If it does not, try to imagine it stationary. If you succeed in doing this it will blur, or disappear. Having demonstrated that it is impossible to
imagine the spot stationary, it may become possible to imagine it moving.
+Having become able to form a mental picture of a black spot with the eyes closed, try to do the same with the eyes open. Alternate until the
mental vision with the eyes closed and open is the same.
+ Having become able to imagine a black spot try to imagine the letter o in diamond type with the center as white as snow. Do this alternately
with eyes closed and open.
+ If you cannot hold the picture of a letter or period, commit to memory a number of letters on the test card and recite them to yourself while
imagining that the card is moving.
+ If some other color or object is easier to imagine than a black spot it will serve the purpose equally well.
+ A few exceptional people may get better results with the eyes open than when they are closed.
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#11
Nini Wrote:I do this when I take a pause and relax (with a cup of coffee). Sometimes I get everything completely clear till the 20/20 line, if I can't relax so much, at least till the 20/40 line (20/30 and 20/25 readable, but a bit blurry).
Nini, you posted previously that you also had weaker vision in one eye, about 3 diopters. Have you been able to improve the vision in that eye? I also notice that at times, my weaker eye (by ~0.75 diopter) does see more clearly while my better eye sees more blurry. I could almost feel it when my vision is different so I check and cover my eyes alternately to verify. It is interesting how much variation we can experience with our vision when trying to find relaxation.
What prescription did you start out with for both eyes before doing Bates method? Apparently your better eye is close to normal now. Also, what do you think caused your myopia?
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#12
Quote:Nini, you posted previously that you also had weaker vision in one eye, about 3 diopters. Have you been able to improve the vision in that eye? I also notice that at times, my weaker eye (by ~0.75 diopter) does see more clearly while my better eye sees more blurry.
My weaker improved a lot, but it is still weaker.
When I have a lot of stress, it usually doesn't affect my eyes equally; sometimes my left eye becomes so much weaker, that my right eye is even better than my good eye; but I didn't get more than 20/30 with the right eye alone yet.
In the beginning, I trained my weaker eye separately. But it continued to improve even without separate training.

Quote:What prescription did you start out with for both eyes before doing Bates method?.
It was -4,5 / -1,5 astigmatism left and -8 right.

Quote:Also, what do you think caused your myopia?
When I look at old photos I find myself squinting on many of them even when I still had good vision.
And I think this is the main reason for my myopia; that I very often strained my eyes without any need. Our body can cope with a lot of abuse for quite some time before the 'damage' is manifested. And maybe, by the time, some other factors came up, which reinforced the process (so for example we move to another place which I didn't like and felt quite uncomfortable there).
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#13
lou_deg Wrote:It is interesting how much variation we can experience with our vision when trying to find relaxation.

Indeed. One eye can seem better than the other for a day, a week, sometimes months, and then it switches to the other. I went through this can't tell you how many times. It's seems like just the nature of this, as both eyes are trying to find relief and 'normalcy' amidst the constant strain trying to assert itself. Never did much patching or anything to favor an eye, but what seemed to help was just thinking of seeing through the lesser eye, not trying to 'do' anything with the eye, from a physical standpoint, just thinking of the left (or right) visual field.
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#14
Nini Wrote:My weaker improved a lot, but it is still weaker..... but I didn't get more than 20/30 with the right eye alone yet.
And it started at -8D. Nini, I want to try the brand of coffee you are drinking. You and Andrew have definitely got this relaxation thing down pretty good.
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#15
lou_deg Wrote:Nini, I want to try the brand of coffee you are drinking.

You may laugh, but it really has some relation to my coffee-drinking.
The quickest progress on the eye chart I had in the beginning, applying the simple method of E. Lierman (see here: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.iblindness.org/books/perfect-sight-without-glasses/ch28.php">http://www.iblindness.org/books/perfect ... s/ch28.php</a><!-- m --> and her book: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.iblindness.org/books/stories-from-the-clinic/">http://www.iblindness.org/books/stories ... he-clinic/</a><!-- m --> ).
That is, I put the chart (laptop) to a distance from where I was able to 'transform' the blurry bottom line into clear, black letters.
I always did that while drinking my morning coffee (and sometimes in the evening, when TV was not very interesting...).
Every week, I pushed my laptop a bit further and came to 20/25 in good light within about 6 months.

At the same time I had a printed eye chart at the required distance on a cupboard door (with an additional light, which I could
reduce after some time).
During coffee pauses, I used to relax and let my gaze wander to the letters without trying to read anything - just letting the black colour help my eyes to relax. By the time, they became more and more distinct and of very dark black; at first only the bigger letters, but some day, I became able to look at the 20/20 line relaxing enough to get it all clear (20/16 I can clearly make out the contours of the letters, but I can't read them yet).

The more difficult (and longer - at least for me) part is to keep up clear sight in all conditions, not to lose the relaxed way of looking at things when I need or simply want to see something clearly and don't get it.
I still have a lot of fluctuations in my visual acuity; it is close to normal when, for example, I watch TV or go for a bicycle ride.
But I still fall back easily into straining ...
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