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The Bates method: A cure for myopia that works.

By nicolas in Op-Ed
Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 04:45:02 PM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)

The Bates method is one that not only cures myopia, but also astygmatism, hypermetropia and nearly every eye problem that is not due to a trauma. It is said that even those could be benefited, however.

I know this claim is a bold one, and that most people will find it pretty hard to believe. I found it hard to believe myself, but decided to give it a try, since what was explained couldn't possibly do any harm. To my amazement, it worked. Incredibly well that is.

Some 6 months ago I had glasses that were fitted -5D plus astigmatism on right eye, -3D on the other, and I used to have amblyopia, meaning my brain switched off the right eye image: there was too much of a difference beetween the two eyes, even with glasses. Now I've got normal vision in the left eye, and the right is improving; it switches back on often now. I have recently started to teach some friends this method and they have benefited too.

This method has been known since the 20's. It was discovered by Dr. Bates, a respected american opthalmology surgeon who is responsible for discovering adrenalin. Soon after he demonstrated his method, curing some students that were fitted with glasses by his pairs, he was kicked out of the university by the head person that told him: "It's not possible to do what you said you have done, so you couldn't possibly have done it," or something to that extent :). He has been discredited and, generally speaking, his method has been trampled upon and dragged in the mud ever since. There's an enormous wealth of anecdotal evidence on the success of this method. But not even ONE scientific study has ever been conducted on it apart from the hundreds cures Dr. Bates and his wife have reported in writings.

So what had he discovered? Simply that accomodation -the equivalent of focusing for a camera- is not the result of the eye lens changing form from the action of the cillary muscle, but is rather due to the action of the muscles surrounding the eye, the ones that also move the eyeball.

They can press enough as to change the form of the eye when they contract, making it longer or shorter, depending of the type of eye muscles involved. So vision defects are caused by those muscles being chronically tensed -overelongating the eyeball, in the case of myopia, or overshortening it, for hypermetropia- in a habitual way.

But his real brillance was in discovering that vision was extremely susceptible to mental strain. So, it does change a lot during the course of a day, even for people with normal sight, depending on the stress the person is under. The strike of genius came when he understood that there is a correct way to use your eyes, and that using them incorrectly blurred the vision. He also found out that vision was constrained by glasses. The eye could only see well through the glasses when it was reproducing exactly the strain it had when it was tested by the opthalmologist. So glasses couldn't possibly help anybody get better sight.

Understanding that mental strain was at the root of the vision problem, he inquired to know what was and wasn't a strain to the eye. First there are what he called the illusions of the normal eye. They are illusions people with normal sight have all the time, and that are absolutely necessary for good sight. I'm going to try to demonstrate them to you. Please take off your glasses first :). Please also remember that I'm not a doctor, and that you try this at your own risk. In any case, if you feel strain, pain, or disagreable feelings, stop immediatly and try something different later. If you've had eye surgery, please be extremely cautious. If you have any doubt, consult with an eye doctor first.

Oppositional movement:

Hold a finger vertically in front of your face, not too far away. Look at the distance, and turn your head slowly left and right. Move the eyes always in the same direction as the head. You might see two fingers in your peripheric vision at times because you are focusing on the distance. Notice how they move when you move your head. They have an apparent movement which is the opposite of the movement of your head, i.e when you turn your head to the left, the fingers appear to move to the right. This is to be expected, and will seem obvious to many.

This is extremely important. All people with good sight have this illusion permanently, but they may not be consciously aware of it. They can always demonstrate it when their attention is called to it. When you have vision defects, you probably unconsciously hold the belief that all things are seen stationary. Well they aren't. Everything is always moving in this way, and you can't see, or even imagine something clearly if you don't see it moving correctly. The first plane you are looking through, the finger in this case, move in a movement opposite to yours. The next thing seen will appear to move in the same direction that the direction you are moving -mainly because its movement is slower. This may not be obvious to people with defective sight. That's one of the reason they don't see well in the first place :).


The eye, like any sensory input, relies on change. Have you never been surprised of the sudden calm when you switch off your computer? You didn't notice the amount of noise it produced, it was in the background, your brain was not noticing it because it was there all the time. It's only when a change occurred that you could tell. The same goes for the eye. It can't see the same thing for long (maybe 2 to 4 seconds) before the image fades. The problem is that people who don't see well tend to lock on a point and force to see it. They keep the same image on the retina. In short: they stare. This is doomed from the start. Just try to look without moving the eye and head at all at a point. After enough time, you'll notice that your vision blurs, that your eyes hurt, that it feels uncomfortable. Then look around a bit, relax, and look at the point again. You'll see it much more clearly.


The eye can only see well at a point near the center of the retina, called the fovea centralis. This is a very tiny area, tightly packed with cone cells, that are very sensitive to light and color, and that give a sharp image. Then as you go away from this point, the cones are quickly replaced by rod cells, sensitive only to light and movement, and not giving a sharp picture at all, maybe 20/200 at best. This is basic anatomy. People with poor vision often try to do the impossible, namely they try to see everything equally clearly in their visual field. This lowers the vision. Try it for yourself: look at a large object and try to see the whole object equally clearly. You can't and it hurts. The best you can do is shift your gaze to many different point of the object. Imagine you have a laser beam going out of the tip of your nose until it hits a small point in the object you are looking directly at. This is this point you see most clearly. This reminds you to always move your head with your eyes. The nose reminder is an invaluable help for many people relearning correct vision habits.

Centralization combine with oppositional movement. When you look at a point and then at another, the first point seems to move in the opposite direction of your head and eyes. The slower and shorter the movement the better but the it must be wide and fast enough so that you notice the swinging of things. When you diffuse (trying to see everything equally clearly in your visual field), the illusion of oppositional movement is usually diminished.

You can demonstrate to yourself that using the eyes improperly lowers the vision. Stare at a point. Imagine that things you are looking at don't move the least. Try to see everything equally well. Notice the worsening of the vision that follows. If you have vision defects, some or all of the disagreeable effects may or may not have been noticed. Please do it long enough to convince you that vision is always worsened when you use your eyes improperly. Alternatively you can ask someone with normal sight to try it and tell you the results. One of the most important part is realizing what you are doing wrong and correcting it. This is about what you unlearn, namely the improper usage of your eyes.

Now what to do to get better?

The most important thing is using your eyes in the correct way explained above all day long: centralizing and noticing oppositional movement. You'll progressively get better at it and will be able to do it longer each day. Please understand that there is no "exercises" to practice, no efforts to be made. There is a proper, normal way to use the eyes. The eyes must be used all day long in this way to have constantly good vision. This is the way people with normal sight use their eyes all the time. It is totally effortless. When asked what he called his method, Bates said that he was embarrassed to give it a name, because it was only the way nature had designed the eyes to work.

The next, and perhaps most difficult step is to stop wearing glasses. Don't wear them at all, except when they are needed for security reasons. It's very difficult, but not totally impossible to get better while continuing to wear them often.

There are also two very simple things to do to help improve your eyesight: breathing and blinking. You must get into the habit of doing them properly all day long too.


Most people seem to simply not breathe at all :). They hold their breath often, and don't breathe in the proper way. When you breathe properly, your belly must go round. This is because the diaphragm, one of the most powerful muscles in your body gets tense and cone shaped, pushing on the inner digestive organs, and giving more room to the heart. No air enters the belly of course; the diaphragm just draws air into the lungs. You also have some respiration done by expanding the chest and by moving the shoulders (especially women, that's a safety for when they are pregnant and can't breath as well), but the majority of work is done by the diaphragm. You can take a look at an anatomy book to get a clearer idea. To improve your breathing there is a simple exercise you can do. Lie down on the floor, put a thin book behind your head, raise your knees so they point upward in a comfortable way, put your feet on the ground hip wide apart, put your hands on your belly to feel it go round and wait there for 10 minutes or so, noticing the point of contact of your back on the ground. After a while, notice how your breath has changed. The better you breathe habitually, the better you'll see. If you caught yourself not breathing, empty your lungs first, then draw air calmly in. I'm sure you'll find heaps of resources for proper breathing on the net. Get some yoga lessons eventually, they'll teach you proper breathing as well.


You probably don't blink often enough if you don't see well. And when you do, you do it hard. It is not so easy to blink properly, quickly, and without effort. Try to close one eye only, and try to close it without any strain or effort. This is how blinking should be done. Blinking is also very quick, maybe a 1/40th of second. In fact you shouldn't even have the impression that you haven't seen for a short while. This can only be done properly when it is unconscious. By practicing blinking softly, often, one blink at a time, in an irregular way consciously, you'll end up doing it unconsciously.

Straining: This can't be said enough times :)

Every time you make an effort to see you worsen your vision. Don't squint. Do nothing with your eyebrows. Relax your face and jaws. There is no need to make any effort to see clearly. The objects you are looking at are out there, but if you can see them it is because light has been refracted from them and then some of it has reached your eyes, and been focused on the fovea. So you don't have to make an effort to reach them. Focusing itself doesn't involve any effort of any kind, not even mental. Simply try to make the biggest effort you can to see something, you'll soon notice you see it worse. There is some better vision gained by myopes when they make their eyes smaller because of the pinhole effect, but it is detrimental in the end. Try to forget about your eyes and put your attention on what you are seeing. Look for some colors you like around you, first green, for example, then blue, etc...

There are complementary activities that help release tension from the eyes:


This is usually a very effective way to release strain from the eyes. Sit yourself at a table, put a pillow on it, put your elbows on the pillow and then your hand palms on your eyes. Cup the hand so they don't touch the eyeball. Close the eyes. Imagine that you see pleasant things. Imagine (between the ears! don't try to see it really!) without doing any effort that you see a white cloud, and, in the center of it, a small black dot. Imagine the dot moving. Move slowly the head and imagine that the dot move in a direction opposite to the head. Try to relax as much as possible the neck, face, jaw, eyes, etc... Try it for as long as you can decently bear, maybe 5 or 10 minutes. Then gently open your eyes and look around casually. Some people do not benefit from this practice, but most do. It is better to rest the eyes before they hurt. Even closing the eyes and relaxing for a few seconds is sometimes enough.


The sun is good for the eyes. Try to sit in the sun, eyes closed, and look at the sun. Move your head gently from side to side. Go easy at the beginning, especially if you are sensitive to light. The more sun you get, the better your eyes will be. NEVER look directly at the sun with eyes open! Try not to squint when there is a lot of light. Dark glasses are not a good idea, because they make the eye more sensitive to the light in the long term. They should only be used for a short time in extreme situations. A hat or cap is much better.

Looking at oppositional movement:

It relaxes the eye a lot when you look at things moving opposite to your movement. There are plenty ways to enjoy that. Dancing and theme parks are pretty good :). A more convenient thing to do is to sway your body from left to right gently while standing up. Look at something in the distance and notice the movement it has while you sway. The head and eyes can eventually move in the same direction as the movement of the body. Breathe and blink. Try to relax. There are innumerable variations on the sway.

I hope the above was of some help to you. There are still lots of things to be said; this is only the core of the method. I'll try to answer any questions to the best of my knowledge and available time. Everything I've learned concerning this method was of great help to people I've taught and me. I found that nearly everything made sense in the long run, and was true. I am completely baffled by the years of continual misery others and I have suffered wearing lenses. This suffering that could have been so easily avoided by this method if it had been taught in childhood. After those years of bad vision habits and wearing lenses, recovering my vision has been a long process which has asked for a lot of dedication and motivation on my part. Nevertheless it has brought joy and improvement nearly every day since I've started. After all, what are 6 months of effort to have your eyes back? Had it taken me 5 years, I still would have done it. If your vision needs improving, consider giving this method a try before attempting eye surgery.

Most of this presentation has been derived from a book by Tom Quackenbush, "Relearning to see". Yeah, his name made me laugh too :). A very good book nevertheless. It is very complete and easy to read. If you're seriously interested, buy it!

And if you live in Paris, France, please contact me, I'll be glad to help you personally for no fee at all.


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The Bates method: A cure for myopia that works. | 48 comments (35 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
Book: Tom Quakenbush? (4.50 / 2) (#5)
by anonymoushero on Wed May 30, 2001 at 04:58:27 PM EST

Is actually:

_Relearning to See : Improve Your Eyesight - Naturally!_
by Thomas R. Quakenbush

Paperback ISBN: 1556433417

And there's a number of other books out there...

Also of interest: Orthokerotatomy? (Got the spelling wrong, tired.)

Interesting poll-questions: how many people wear glasses? contacts? have poor vision (ie: should be wearing contacts/glasses but aren't), have had surgery or ortho, or have corrected their vision? I'd be interested to see if the editorial comment was correct in assuming that most K5ers don't have vision problems.

-- Ender, Duke_of_URL

Re: Book: Tom Quakenbush? (none / 0) (#10)
by nicolas on Wed May 30, 2001 at 06:21:29 PM EST

I did include one just like you said, but forgot to put it in the resubmitted version. The question was:

Do you have vision problems?
Two or three of the above
Other serious eye problems
I've had surgery
I've learned this method
My eyes are just fine, thanks!

People having problems were about 60% last time I've checked. I guess you can't put the pool back in now. Shall I resubmit again?

Oh, and you're right about the book. Thanks.

[ Parent ]
Questions? (none / 0) (#20)
by anonymoushero on Wed May 30, 2001 at 10:37:17 PM EST

Ya know, I haven't looked at my records so I have no clue what of those I have :) I just wear glasses, and have ever since I was little. So I was going for the descriptive part of bad-vision.

Resubmission might be good. Dunno, ask other people than I, I don't do this that often :)

-- Ender, Duke_of_URL

[ Parent ]
Your vision wasn't bad (4.00 / 1) (#6)
by Delirium on Wed May 30, 2001 at 04:59:02 PM EST

You even considered undergoing an untested and unproven method to correct a mere -5 and -3 diopter myopia? I currently have around -9.5 diopter myopia in both eyes, and I see perfectly fine with contacts; there's no reason to do anything drastic unless it gets a lot worse.

hmm (none / 0) (#7)
by Delirium on Wed May 30, 2001 at 05:04:22 PM EST

Hmm upon second though that comment made little sense, since this isn't corrective surgery or anything. But even if it works, it'd be difficult for me to do, since going without my contacts would make it very hard to actually do anything. I use a computer for a large portion of the day, and without contacts I can't make out text (even large text!) on the monitor without being within an inch of it. And being that close to the monitor puts a great deal of strain on my eyes, as it's so close that I can only comfortably focus with one eye at a time (trying to use both makes me cross-eyed, which gives me a headache). So I tend to wear the contacts.

[ Parent ]
Re: hmmm (none / 0) (#11)
by nicolas on Wed May 30, 2001 at 06:41:57 PM EST

An inch is much too close . Your two eyes can't look at the same point at that distance without both being turned extremely inwards.

Contact lenses are a problem with this method because you can't easily take them on and off. If you have an old pair of glasses somewhere in a drawer, dig them, especially if they are less powerful than the lens you are wearing now. Practise the method and use those glasses the less you possibly can. You'll be hopefully able to see through them correctly pretty quickly. After a while, go and make the cheapest pair of glasses you can with an even more reduced prescription. Repeat as needed. This can work, but will be long, and you'll need a supportive eye doctor. And in a case like yours, it would be better to have someone teach you directly. But you can make it alone if you are motivated enough.

[ Parent ]
interesting (none / 0) (#19)
by Delirium on Wed May 30, 2001 at 10:00:29 PM EST

Interesting. My eyedoctor seems to use a very limited version of this method; he recommends a prescription about one diopter less than what would result in 20/20 vision. This way the contacts still keep me within the legal sight quality to drive, but he claims that a stronger prescription would tend to make the eyes deteriorate faster. [shrug]

[ Parent ]
Re:interesting (none / 0) (#25)
by nicolas on Thu May 31, 2001 at 08:53:36 AM EST

Most eye doctors have constated that errors of refraction are changing, and that fitting glasses too strong or even adapted to the person vision tend to worsen the vision in the long term. Also, the person may see worse than usually the day he comes to see the doctor. Mine even told me to not wear my glasses at all the day I had to see her, because she had noticed she prescribed weaker glasses if the patient did that. So, well, eye doctor often underprescribe, which is a good thing. But of course they don't go any further because they think the evolution of errors of refraction cannot be changed by teaching the patient to use his eyes.

I know it is difficult to switch back to glasses, and yours must be pretty coke-bottle like. You should nevertheless try to get a pair of reduced glasses. Work with your eye doctor to determine how much you can reduce the power of the lens. To make the glasses cheap, get normal lens, and don't include astigmatism if you just have a bit. There are always some very cheap, heavy frame to be found too. Continue wearing contact during the day if you want, but take them off as soon as you can, and put them on as late as possible. This will do your eyes good, because usually contacts are irritating in a way or another. When you don't have contacts on, keep the glasses handy, and wear them as little as possible.

To start doing this, it is important for you to have some indication that this method can work. I started not wearing glasses anymore when I first decided to lay aside for a moment my doubts and tried to relax by palming. This worked, I could see suddenly better for a short moment, and I felt a release from strain.

So I decided it must be worth something after all and continued with good results. Be aware that in a myopia like yours, improvement in vision may not be easily noticed in the beginning. But you'll probably notice the release of the strain. Then try swinging: you turn your body and head gently to the left, and raise the right heel, then turn to the right, raising the left heel slightly too. The arms and shoulders remains relaxed and any movement of them is due to the turning of the body. This way, your gaze sweep over the room, and your nose-reminder pass over one object after another. Notice the oppositionnal movement of things seen. Relax, breath, blink, and centralize.

[ Parent ]
How did your vision get that bad!?!?! (none / 0) (#22)
by Tachys on Thu May 31, 2001 at 12:19:56 AM EST

I use a computer for a large portion of the day, and without contacts I can't make out text (even large text!) on the monitor without being within an inch of it.

How did your vision get that bad?!?!

[ Parent ]
Related Link (4.33 / 3) (#8)
by stuartf on Wed May 30, 2001 at 05:05:35 PM EST

Here is a FAQ regarding natural vision improvement, or try this for another view (pun intended)

Links (none / 0) (#18)
by nicolas on Wed May 30, 2001 at 09:01:52 PM EST

The seeing.org site isn't bad, but doesn't really give a lot of informations. One of their most interesting page is there. It shows a picture of a lady that learned the method, before and after. The change in apparence is very marked.

[ Parent ]
Links (none / 0) (#46)
by odaiwai on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 02:33:10 AM EST

Of course the change in appearance is very different: one photo looks like it was taken in a photo-booth with head on flash and very harsh lighting. The other photo (the after one) has softer lighting from one side, her hair is longer and in a different style.

-- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
[ Parent ]
Some good points I like to add .. (4.00 / 2) (#9)
by Highlander on Wed May 30, 2001 at 05:26:44 PM EST

Many people get equipped with glasses when they are very young and still growing. Assuming that for some kids, seeing a little fuzzy is normal growth, the effect of equipping a kid with glasses is to start a spiral where eyes get worse and worse, because the real problem, the bad use of the eyes, isn't corrected.

Reading through your point about oppositional movement, I realized that a good explanation for myopia is that your eyes learn to optimize for periphal vision(looking at things in the corner of your eyes), which is useful for people in danger. This also fits in niceless with the "stress" factor.

The conclusion from this might be that in order to fight myopia, you could shield your eyes to the sides, like for a horse pulling a cart. It would be interesting, if this is possible, to do vision tests with cart-pulling horses.

However, sometimes the "stress" may be an attitude problem. If I don't see well, I never will look at things that are far away, thus putting myself into a position where the eyes don't get better.

Another point to make for glasses is that some people really have eyes that are shaped wrong, for whatever reason, and are already using all the tricks of Dr. Bates instinctively. These people will benefit from some glasses.

Conclusions: Eye doctors are not an evil cult, but they should proscribe weaker glasses, and you should avoid wearing your glasses when you are looking at something that you can see sharp even without glasses, and you should not wear glasses while using your peripheral vision.

Moderation in moderation is a good thing.

Re: Some good points I like to add .. (5.00 / 2) (#13)
by nicolas on Wed May 30, 2001 at 07:48:49 PM EST

I totally agree with you about the fitting of glasses on child. Also, when you change glasses, they are often strongers than the ones the doctor gave you first. No glasses ever made the vision better. At best, it will stay stationnary. Perhaps it would have gone back to normal after a while if the glasses weren't put on the child in the first place.

People that have bad vision usually diffuse, they try to see things using the peripheral vision. So they don't see well because the point of clarity is in the center of the visual field. The reason why they do that are numerous. It can be, as you said, fear. They think that by trying to see everything equally clearly they will be safer. Ironically, they end up seeing worse when doing that.

But it may be sometimes a stupid mistake. I have this memory as I was a child: I already had an interest in the matter:), and I once noticed that I could only see well in the center of my visual field. The rest was unclear. I decided that this wasn't normal at all, and that my eyes, just like a camera, had to see everything equally clearly. I started practising that as much as I can . See where I am today :)

But I don't think horse-carts are a good idea at all. Peripheral vision is essential vision, it serve to alert you of movement in the visual field. You can then shift your eyes so they'll look directly at the point of interest. Your attention must be in the center of the visual field, and you have to trust your peripheral vision to alert you of sudden changes in the environment. Besides, you can always diffuse, even with horse-cart.

I suspect that the proportion of eyes that are really shaped wrong is very small. The few that have serious problem can well do as you say, but this is certainly not half of the population as it is nowadays. And that number grows every years.

I don't think there is anything like an eye doctor conspiration. The actual theory of vision is there since a long time now, eye doctor fit glasses on patients, give them drugs, operate them, and everything is working smoothly. Why should anybody research a subject that could possibly lead to troubles if their colleagues heard about it? It has been declared impossible after all. So things don't change.

[ Parent ]
Exactly! (5.00 / 1) (#31)
by tzanger on Thu May 31, 2001 at 04:08:29 PM EST

Another point to make for glasses is that some people really have eyes that are shaped wrong, for whatever reason, and are already using all the tricks of Dr. Bates instinctively. These people will benefit from some glasses.

My vision is approximately 20/200. It sucks. with my arms comfortably on the desk (I use a laptop) and the screen about 18-24" away I simply can not see 12 point text clearly. 18 point I can make out but that's about the smallest I can reliably read.

I started wearing glasses around grade 7. My doc said that my eyes were "long" -- an actual physical problem that I would suspect would not lend itself well to the manner of correction explained in this article. If I were proven wrong that would be wonderful.

[ Parent ]
Re: (none / 0) (#37)
by nicolas on Sun Jun 03, 2001 at 02:47:35 AM EST

If your eye is long, then you are myopic. Everyone agree on that, Bates included. Bates claim that there are no malformed eye, that they are wrongly shaped because of the habitual strain of the muscle surrounding them. The orthodox claim that all eyes that see imperfectly are wrongly shaped because of genetics (or other reasons) and that the error of refraction thus cannot change. I suggest that you try the Bates method with an open mind and see if it works for you. That's after all the only way to know.

[ Parent ]
I've got bad vision (2.75 / 4) (#12)
by NightHawk on Wed May 30, 2001 at 07:17:38 PM EST

and this whole article seemed like a bunch of holistic nonsense. Especialy since it encourages you to NOT wear your corrective lenses. If I were to follow that advice, I would put a lot of people in great danger while driving.

Optometry/Opthymology (?) have been around for many decades, and the science of the eye is very developed... This article seemed like nothing more then the hundreds of other snake oil cures that have dotted our history.

I've got bad vision, too (5.00 / 3) (#14)
by ocelot on Wed May 30, 2001 at 08:04:24 PM EST

The author specifically says not to wear glasses except when they are needed for security reasons. I would expect driving, and other activities where good eyesight is essential for safety, would fall into this category. (editorial note: you might want to exchange the word safety for security - security makes sense, but doesn't really have the same connotation).

Science is an ever-evolving field. Just because something isn't currently accepted doesn't mean it doesn't have merit. If that was the case, why would we bother doing research at all? After all, if it isn't currently accepted, it must not be legitimate.

If you have evidence or proof that this is not helpful, I'm sure the readers of this article would be happy to see it. But saying "I don't believe it so it must be false" seems just as silly as saying "I believe it so it must be true".

[ Parent ]

So why are eyes treated differently? (3.75 / 4) (#17)
by sigwinch on Wed May 30, 2001 at 08:58:50 PM EST

Optometry/Opthymology (?) have been around for many decades, and the science of the eye is very developed...
It is not well-developed at all. Almost all other malformations are treated by studying the underlying physiology, and devising exercises that build up and correct the deficiency. If a crutch (literal or figurative) is used, it is a temporary thing to allow basic function, and is only used until the skill has been built up enough to work without it.

There is no doubt that vision is strongly affected by use, muscle strain, diet, and illness. So why aren't doctors studying what does affect eyes and exploiting the influences? Why is the treatment of the eyes totally unlike every other area of medicine.

I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

interesting (4.33 / 3) (#21)
by ocswing on Wed May 30, 2001 at 11:40:45 PM EST

You make some very good points. Because I myself had to correct how I was looking at things. But this isn't a magical cure-all. Not all myopias are caused simply by mental strain and incorrect habits. While I believe that there definitely are cases out there of people who have myopia because of this they are most likely not in the more serious cases. I myself only have a slight myopia and my vision is quite poor. -6.0 on my right eye. stinky. So I think that before anyone should undertake these "exercises" to definitely consult an eye doctor. I voted section page just because it is good for discussion. IMHO, it could've been written a little better :) I'm out.

Re: interesting (4.00 / 2) (#24)
by nicolas on Thu May 31, 2001 at 08:39:02 AM EST

I honestly don't know of the proportion of eyes that are really wrongly shaped. There's an interesting article about the cause of myopia there . Bates said that when he started teaching people his method, he was still partly respecting the accepted theory, and didn't even try to cure some people because their defects were too marked. With time, he progressively realized that everybody was benefited, no matter how bad his condition was. True, there were some very partial success. But the person did always get some benefice from the treatment.

[ Parent ]
Pure quackery (5.00 / 4) (#27)
by Paul Johnson on Thu May 31, 2001 at 10:06:23 AM EST

The Bates Method is pure quackery. Its supporters make much of the fact that Aldous Huxley supported it and wrote a book on it, but neglect to point out that Huxley later reversed his position.

Huxley once gave a lecture on the Bates method, and seemed to be reading his notes. But when he forgot his lines half way through it became immediately and painfully obvious that he was reciting, not reading.

This page has more details about the lecture. For more about the Bates system and its fallacies, see here.

You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.

Re: Pure quackery (none / 0) (#30)
by nicolas on Thu May 31, 2001 at 03:01:11 PM EST

Let's get Huxley out of the way :)

When exactly did he reverse his position? Where did he write that the Bates system wasn't working? Here's an excerpt from the foreword of the 1982 edition of the Art of seeing (not a really good book if you ask me...), written by his wife Laura:

"...[Huxley's] sight was rapidly declining and, in a matter of short time, he would be blind. With an open mind he studied the Bates Method which, still now, but especially in 1939, was unaccepted by the orthodox ophtalmologist. His eyesight and that of thousands of others was improved, even saved."

Concerning the lecture, here's an extract from the preface of "The art of seeing":

"At sixteen, I had a violent attack of keratis punctata, which left me (after 18 monts of near-blindness, during which I had to depend on braille for my reading and a guide for my walking) with one eye just capable of light perception, and the other with enough vision to permit of my detecting the two-hundred foot letter on the Snellen chart at ten feet. My inabilities to see was mainly due to the presence of opacities in the cornea; but this condition was complicated by hyperopia and astigmatism. For the first few years my doctors advised me to do my reading with the aid of a powerful hand magnyfying glass. But later on, I was promoted to spectacles. With the aid of these I was able to recognize the seventy-foot line at ten feet and to read tolerably well-provided always that I kept my better pupil dilated with atropine, so that I might see round a particular heavy patch of opacity at the center of the cornea".

So this guy learn a speech by heart, put atropine in his eye before the lecture, just in case he blunders, then do blunder, and show everybody that he is lying by looking at the text with a magnyfying glass?

There's a much simpler explanation. He's giving a lecture on the subject, and he reads it without glasses. He's nervous because he knows people are looking for possible fraud. Of course, since vision is very susceptible to mental strain, and that his used to be very bad, his eye blunders once, perhaps he has badly written a word. So naturally, he resort to the magnyfying glass for a few seconds, time for him to discern the word in question, put the glass back in his pocket and continue to read. No big deal.

Vision change a lot during the course of a day, for everybody. When you're in the process of reversing your eye problem, you're not suddenly cured one day and voila, no more trouble for the rest of your life. It goes more like this: You first start seeing a little better. From time to time there are moment of total, astounding vision clarity, but they don't last, you quickly fall back in bad vision habits. But, with time, you start to see better and better, and those clear flash start being longer and longer. Finally they are more or less continuous. You see well most of the time, but your eyes keep slipping from time to time, depending on the circumstances. That is what probably happened to Huxley.

[ Parent ]
So how does Bates explain this? (4.00 / 2) (#29)
by DoubleEdd on Thu May 31, 2001 at 02:46:19 PM EST

In the Houston Myopia Study it was found that wearers of hard contact lenses had a 0.50 dioptre worsening of sight over three years on average, whereas spectacle wearers had a 1.50 dioptre worsening. If eyesight is moderated by the shape of the entire eyeball, why does a small contact lens over the cornea influence the deteoriation?

See http://www.dvc.cc/rgp.htm and http://www.menicon.com/Abstract/myopia.htm.

Also read Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science by Martin Gardner. I think he covers the Bates method rather well.

Re: (none / 0) (#36)
by nicolas on Sat Jun 02, 2001 at 11:32:38 AM EST

I've heard about that too. Bates isn't the only one to believe that the vision is determined by the shape of the eyeball. The orthodox theory is ok with this too, that's the only point on wich they both agree. But for the orthodox, the shape of the eyeball doesn't change, accomodation is done by the lens becoming more convex. Orthodox theory also postulate that people with bad vision must wear glasses because the lens can't overcome the bad sight provoked by the wrongly shaped. As for why rigid lens are helpful in preventing myopia, I don't know.

[ Parent ]
Counterpoint (4.00 / 1) (#33)
by DesiredUsername on Thu May 31, 2001 at 09:14:02 PM EST

Some simple searches will lead you some information that debunks Bates...again.

Play 囲碁
My thoughts (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by Tachys on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 05:18:36 AM EST

For the "sunning" can't you use a strong light blub instead? Maybe in Bates time there were no light blubs strong enough to warm eyes

Also for your "lazy eye". I suggest wearing an eye patch over your good eye. Something like half-hour a day. So your brain can get used to using that eye.

Re: (none / 0) (#35)
by nicolas on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 04:25:26 PM EST

Looking at strong light is bebeficial in the long term. But nothing beat the light of the sun through closed eyelight. I've tried to found a patch, but didn't succeed. Most are transparent here. I usually use my cupped hand over my eye.

[ Parent ]
No, I don't think so, (none / 0) (#48)
by Ward57 on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 10:17:01 AM EST

the sun is far brighter than any normal light. Ouside on even a cloudy day rates 3000 Locks, even up close a bulb won't rate more than a sixth of that. A Lock is a unit of measurement (measureing light) equivalent to one candle power.

[ Parent ]
shape of eyeball... (5.00 / 1) (#41)
by eskimoses on Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 01:30:33 PM EST

It seems pretty obvious, given various debunking links posted here, that Bates was incorrect in assuming that focusing is a function of the eye, rather than of the lens. Hence, claim many, his theory is wrong. Can anyone speak to the following questions, however?

Myopia and hyperopia have been described to me as the result of an eyeball that is somewhat misshapen, with a lens that is unable to properly accomodate the deeper (or shallower) distance to the retina. Is this true? If so, might the misshapenness of the eyeball be caused, at least in part, by excess tension in the eye muscles? If so, might a process of relaxation exercises reduce the inherent "error" in the lens's focusing, even if it doesn't directly affect the focusing process?

Re: (none / 0) (#42)
by nicolas on Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 03:48:36 PM EST

Bates may have been right or wrong when he said that the external muscles provide accomodation. I believe he is right when he says that the wrong form of the eyeball is due to external muscles tension. As for accomodation, I don't know, but what you say may be absolutely right. T.Quackenbush says about the same thing in his book.

What is really important here, theory aside, is that the Bates method do works for curing eye defects.

[ Parent ]
A testimonial (of sorts) (none / 0) (#43)
by dgwatson on Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 07:00:52 PM EST

It actually worked pretty well for me - I had been doing it for about three weeks, and I could definitely see better with my glasses off. I'm not sure exactly how bad my vision is, but with my glass es off I can read 12-point type from about 8 inches away from the screen. When I started, I couldn't read notes on an overhead in class (I'm a college student), even sitting in the front row, but after three weeks I could make out stuff pretty well, and could read my screen from a normal distance.

Unfortunately, I went to a conference in March where I HAD to wear glasses to find anybody I knew (with thousands of people, it's difficult to identify people at long range when you can't see clearly). I never got around to trying it out again after that.

I've been thinking about getting contacts, because I really hate glasses. I'm going to try it again, though, partly because of the terribly time my dad has had getting his contacts fitted. Of course, he's got "monovision" contacts, which means that one eye is distance and the other close range, which may account for some of the problems.

I would definitely encourage people to try this - it might take some time, but if it works, just think of all the money and aggravation you'll save!

Re: (none / 0) (#44)
by nicolas on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 12:09:37 PM EST

This is a very good improvement for just a three week practise by yourself. Some people are cured pretty quickly, for others it takes months. You seem to have the knack for it. I've heard about people having one eye fitted for distance and the other for near vision. This is totally unnatural, and very disturbing for the brain, the eyes are ment to accomodate together on the same point. It's no surprise your Dad had a terrible time adapting to them! Bifocals are a much better choice if he don't want to try the method. If he tries the method, he'll probably have a hard time at first. my mother is suffering from vertigo when she doesn't put her bifocals for a day.

[ Parent ]
Seeing with the mind (none / 0) (#45)
by odaiwai on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 02:12:53 AM EST

This reminds me of something. Years ago, I used to do TaeKwonDo, which involves a very free style of sparring (like kickboxing). I'm quite myopic (-6.x both eyes) but never wore my glasses while sparring. All of my *memories* of sparring are sharp images, and I never found it awkward to spar without glasses.
Hmmm, am I editing my memories or is my brain compensating when in a conflict situation?

-- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
[ Parent ]
Actually... (none / 0) (#47)
by dgwatson on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 08:02:51 AM EST

My dad already has bifocals, and this was an alternative to getting trifocals.

[ Parent ]
The Bates method: A cure for myopia that works. | 48 comments (35 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
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