The Bates Method

Seeing Better Naturally


Let’s get one thing straight: We are constantly being deceived. Oh, I don’t mean everyone is a pathological liar or that it’s done intentionally. It’s just that people — especially those in media — are sloppy with words and language. That’s the case with the Vision Council of America. That organization claims that 75 percent of adults use some sort of “vision correction.”

Now I don’t have an issue with the number they cite. I’m sure they can validate that by whatever means they use. But they’re talking about how many people wear glasses or contact lenses for vision correction. The truth is that glasses don’t correct your vision. Take ‘em off and see if your vision is any better. In my experience, it’s worse. Relying on chips of glass, however finely ground and lensed, in order to see things, takes the condition of a person’s vision completely out of the loop. When I experimented using reading glasses, I became dependent on them. When I stopped using them, my eyes got better.

Take the Bates. Aldous Huxley was a visionary writer. His Brave New World is a classic vision of a suspect future. Despite his insight as a writer, Huxley was nearly blind by age sixteen. In his book, The Art of Seeing, Huxley wrote “At sixteen I had to depend on Braille for my reading and a guide for my walking. Thanks to [the Bates Method,] I am now wearing no glasses, reading, and all without strain. My vision is about twice as good as it used to be when I wore spectacles, and before I had learned the art of seeing.”

The man Huxley thanked was Dr. William H. Bates, an ophthalmologist trained at Cornell University. Bates developed what is known and published as The Bates Method for Better Eyesight Without Glasses, first published as Perfect Sight Without Glasses in 1920. The book is now in the public domain.

Bates’ logic is a classic observation of the allopathic medical approach popularized by Western medicine: That is treating symptoms rather than healing. In the case of eyeglasses, it was clear to Bates. Corrective lenses adjust refraction of light but do nothing to heal or correct eye problems. In fact, corrective lenses, in Bates’ opinion and the opinion of many others, actually harmed and interfered with the ability of the eye to correct vision.

If you’re lucky enough to be over the age of thirty, you may have experienced a change in your eyesight. It’s common that even by then, the eyes begin to age. The eyes are controlled by muscles in many different ways. These muscles can lose tone just like any other muscle in the body. Vision problems can result.

I had a football coach who often said, “Don’t practice mistakes.” I remember that. Glasses are designed to adjust a refractive error of a certain degree. In order for a person to see clearly through glasses or contacts, the eyes actually must return to the error in the first place. Glasses don’t work unless the eye is seeing wrongly first. Bates realized that errors of focus are not constant. The eye changes. The moment one puts on eyeglasses, though, the eye has to automatically adjust to an incorrect position, an unnatural position of focus to accommodate to the glass lens. So, if you woke up in the morning and your eyes worked properly at the moment you arose, you’d be making your eye muscles put your eyes out of focus the minute you put your glasses on! At the least, you would be reinforcing something undesirable: poor eye focus.

Bates reasoned that much like a cardiovascular system can improve with regular exercise, eyesight can also. He developed his method and published it in book form. It’s designed as a self-help system so the intervention of a specialist isn’t even required.

Note: By no means will Bate’s method solve all eyesight problems. But it has been shown to help correct some focus problems. Some of Bates’ early suggestions are quite controversial (sun-staring) but the modern rewrites of his books have filtered out much of the controversial.

Seeing with Feeling. Bates believed that most vision problems are the result of two primary factors: mental strain and misuse of the muscles that shape the eye for focus. The sets of muscles that control focus and eye movement are referred to as the extrinsic muscles of the eye. Like any muscle, they are affected by stress, tension and fatigue. They can also be trained by misuse and retrained by simple exercises. Good sight is the result of a relaxed state of mind and body.

The first key in the Bates Method is learning to relax the muscle. Bates believed that correct seeing is a natural ability and should be done with equally natural ease. It is a mental attitude that serves to relax at first. In Bates’ words, “The eye with normal sight never tries to see.”

Bates’ book is available on Amazon.com and is a simple way to improve eyesight. Of course, a glasses salesman will come up with reasons why you should buy a new set of eyes. You decide.

Be well.

Heartland Healing is a metaphysically based polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and planet. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not medical advice. Important to remember and pass on to others: for a weekly dose of Heartland Healing, visit HeartlandHealing.com.


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