The Conventional Treatment of Weak Vision
To correct weak vision or refractive error (light not properly refracted on the retina of the eye), the conventional treatment by ophthalmologists and opticians is to make use of corrective lenses (eyeglasses or contacts) with proper prescriptions to enable the light from a close or distant object to refract accurately on the retina.
The conventional treatment serves two purposes:
To make the eye see more clearly
To prevent further eyestrain through clearer vision
These are the sole reasons for the professionals to provide eyeglasses and contacts: to provide better vision, and to prevent more eyestrain.
The conventional treatment is based on the belief that weak vision is due to incorrect refraction on the retina because of the distorted eye lens; therefore, to correct the impaired vision, corrective lenses are used to correct the refraction from the distorted lens.
Dr. William Bates’ Unconventional Treatment of Weak Vision
Dr. Bates completely disagreed with the conventional theory of distorted lens. According to Dr. Bates, the conventional treatment is WRONG because the eye is constantly changing, so much so that the eye prescriptions (which are constant) in corrective lenses may not help the patients in certain conditions; quite the contrary, they unduly increase their eyestrain. That is to say, if the eye is forced to see in different eye conditions with the same corrective lenses, the eye will have to strain itself to see in different conditions, and thus causing further eyestrain that damages vision.
Dr. Bates’ explanation was that what might fit the eye (i.e. the prescriptions) at one moment might not be appropriate at another moment, given that the conditions of the eye are constantly changing. In addition, because the eye is capable of adapting and adjusting to different conditions (eye accommodation), wearing corrective lenses will deprive the eye of such accommodation, and thus leading to further vision deterioration. That was the reason for his objection to wearing corrective lenses.
Dr. Bates’ treatment was based on the belief that the incorrect refraction on the retina is due to weak and unrelaxed eye muscles, which cause distorted shape in the eyeball, resulting in the refraction falling in front of or behind the retina, instead of directly on the retina.
In nearsightedness, the lens become flattened; in farsightedness, the lens become thicker.
Accordingly, eye relaxation holds the key to correcting vision problems.
The normal eyeball is round. According to Dr. Bates, if you strain to see, your eyeball becomes distorted. As a result, you cannot see clearly. Because you cannot see, you strain your eyes more. The more you strain your eyes, the less you will be able to see, and thus forming a vicious circle of poor vision. The Bates Method is to break that vicious circle of eyestrain.
Unfortunately, you cannot consciously control your eye muscles. That is to say, you cannot tell your eye muscles not to squeeze your eyes out of shape. What you can do is to control them unconsciously through awareness, which is what this book is all about.
Below is a brief comparison between Dr. Bates’ method and the conventional method of vision treatment:
Fact: Weak vision is due to incorrect refraction—either in front of or behind, but not directly on the retina.
Bates' Treatment Theory: Distorted shape of the eyeball, due to weak and un-relaxed eye muscles, causes the incorrect refraction on the eye’s retina.
Solution: Strengthen and relax eye muscles to prevent them from squeezing the eye out of shape when focusing.
Recommendation: Corrective lenses only create the desire for clear vision but deprives the eye from naturally adjusting to the constant changing conditions of the eye, and thus causing eyestrain as a result. Stop wearing your corrective lenses. Instead, relax your eye muscles to improve your vision such that you can ultimately do without your glasses.
Conventional Treatment Theory: Distorted eye lens causes the incorrect refraction on the eye’s retina.
Solution: Use corrective lens to re-adjust the refraction on the retina in order to give clearer vision and to prevent further eyestrain.
Recommendation: Just continue to wear your corrective lenses. If vision changes, get a new pair.
The Bates Method focuses on the following basic principles of good vision:
(1) Central fixation: Train the eye to focus on only one point one at a time. To illustrate, let your eyes look at a printed page:
Focus on only one word on the printed page, allowing other words in its vicinity to become blurred.
Then, try to see one letter of that word better than the other letters of that word.
Then, look at the other letters, one by one.
Now, look at the blank space between that word and the next.
Focus on the next word, and repeat the process.
The objective of this training is to help you focus on only a very small area because the macula (responsible for detailed vision) can see only a very small area. Stimulate the macula to enhance vision improvement.
(2) Shifting: Train the eye to look from one object to another frequently, from a close object to a distant one, and then back again in order to relieve tension and eyestrain, which impair good vision. Reinforce shifting with constant blinking to clean and to rest the eye.
(3) Sunning: Train the eye to adapt and adjust to bright light to avoid squinting, which causes eyestrain. Close your eyes and look up at the sun. Then, turn away from the sun, opening your eyes, and look at some clouds. Close your eyes for a moment, and then open your eyes at look at a point a little nearer the sun, but without looking directly at the sun. Sunning sharpens your vision, as well as prevents squinting.
(4) Relaxation: Visualizing “black” induces complete relaxation of the eye. A completely relaxed eye will see only black when it is closed; seeing the field of vision grayish or light-golden in color means that the eye is not totally relaxed. Eye palming is the most effective exercise for complete eye relaxation.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau