We are damaging our eyesight by choosing to look at the light rather than to see with light. Taken to the extreme, looking into the light is not a good thing. No one would go outside and stare directly into the sun. Staring at length into a computer screen, television or smartphone isn’t a good thing, either.
For a couple million years, the human eye has developed by seeing the world around us in the light. Without light, we don’t see. Our world would be as starkly dark as the proverbial two crows in the bottom of a mineshaft, impossible to see.
The light by which we see is mostly from the sun. There are other natural sources, of course: bioluminescence (think firefly), geothermal (think glowing lava), pyrogenic (think heat or fire) and electrostatic discharge (think lightning). But for the most part, the light by which we see the world is the sun. Sixty years ago, all that changed.
By 1950, the cathode ray tube was becoming commonplace. It’s the light source that made television work. Everything changed. For the first time, in order to see something, humans were looking directly at the light source rather than seeing objects illuminated by a light source.
A Kindle, Gentler World For two million years, the human eye has perceived the world by gathering the reflected light of the sun as it bounced off the surface of whatever object we were looking at. For the past half-century or so, however, we have all of a sudden begun staring at televisions, flat screens, computers, iPhones and iPads. These are not visible because the sun or any other light source is reflecting off of them. They are visible because they are their own light source. We are staring into the light rather than seeing by it. For that reason, my bookshelf contains reading material that is paper and my ebookshelf shall remain barren. I’ll prefer my light reflected off the printed page.
There is a distinct difference in the light that strikes our eyes from a reflected surface and the light coming directly from a light source. A light source produces light that projects from the source at a 90-degree angle in all directions. It’s a light that is kind of incoherent and blasting in every direction at once. (The exception is a laser light source. Those light rays are parallel and coherent.) When light from the sun or any other source strikes a surface, that light is reflected in a manner consistent with what physics calls Snell’s Law. Every ray of light that bounces back from the surface of the object is at the exact same angle as it struck the surface. The light, in one respect, becomes more coherent or organized. In another respect, it becomes softer and diffused.
Put simply, when we are looking at reflected light, it’s somehow more pleasing and easier on our eyes than when we are looking directly at a light source. The difference between staring directly at a light source and seeing objects by virtue of a reflected light source is significant. It doesn’t matter if the light source we are staring at is the sun, a computer screen, a television or a smartphone — it’s hard on the eyes.
And one published report estimates that 2.5 billion people will be suffering from myopia, or shortsightedness, and will need glasses by 2020.
I see people who work outside like farmers, construction workers, tradesmen, athletes, long-haul truck drivers — don’t seem to wear glasses as much as clerks, phone sales people, healthcare workers and those who work indoors. Call it a glittering generality if you wish but just do your own looking.
I’ve also noticed that when I go on a road trip and spend a long portion of my day looking at the outside world through the windshield of a car, my eyesight is pretty good. Compared to the days when I am spending too much time in front of a computer screen, my eyes see more clearly and feel more rested. They fatigue less easily.
It seems apparent that somehow our eyes are adapted by eons of seeing by reflected light. Seeing by looking directly at a light emitting diode or LED doesn’t seem to have been in our evolutionary trajectory. How difficult is that to understand?
Open to da Bates Dr. William H. Bates, an ophthalmologist trained at Cornell University, 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 contents are now in public domain.
To Bates, eyeglasses or corrective lenses only adjust refraction of light but do nothing to heal eye problems. In fact, corrective lenses, in Bates’ opinion, and that of many others, actually harmed and interfered with the ability of the eye to correct vision.
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. 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 required though Bates did certify who had studied his techniques. In 1930, one such practitioner was listed by Bates’ magazine as Miss Clara M. Brewster, Studio 6, Aquila Court, Omaha, Nebraska.
Bate’s method has been shown to help correct some focus problems. Some of Bates’ early suggestions are controversial but the modern rewrites of his books have filtered out much of the controversial. Bates’ book is available in paperback.
Heartland Healing examines various alternative forms of healing. It is provided as a source of information, not as medical advice. It is not an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or The Reader. Access past columns at www.HeartlandHealing.com