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Better Eyesight Magazine - Subjects, Articles, Practices
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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Re: Better Eyesight Magazine - Subjects, Articles, Practices - by clarknight - 12-10-2012, 10:11 AM