We’ve all been led to believe that deterioration of our eyesight is something to be expected as we age and that, once it starts, there’s nothing we can do, it will just get progressively worse as we age. We believe that this is because of problems with the lenses of our eyes, and the only things we can do for it is to wear corrective lenses or operate on the lenses themselves. The strange thing is that there is no evidence to support this, in fact, there is only evidence to contradict it. Deteriorating eyesight is not linked to the lenses of the eye and we’ve known this for decades.
The chance finding of an amazing book on eyesight
When my wife’s father sadly passed away, she saved a few of his books that she thought I might like (she is very thoughtful!). He was a man deeply interested in health and had a vast array of books that he’d collected over his lifetime. One of the books my wife kindly gave me was “Improve Your Sight Without Glasses” which was a “Science of Life Book” originally printed in 1946 but this was the Ninth Edition printed in 1971. It’s an amazing little book and you can read more about its contents in its page under Resources > Books. How can I thank my wife (and her father) enough for bringing me this gift? Her father’s interest in health and collecting useful information plus my wife’s desire to feed my hunger for health information has put this little book in my hands.
Right in the introduction of this book, there are statements like this;
“But glasses are no more than “eye-crutches”. They cannot remedy any defect in the eyes. On the contrary, they add to the defect by making the eyes more and more dependent upon them”
As soon as I read this statement, something inside me jumped as I could feel the truth in it. There must be more to eyesight problems than just putting on glasses. It feels right. I wanted to know more, a lot more.
This is not just an old idea
Before I go on, I’d like to acknowledge that it can be easy to disregard something written many decades ago, but these concepts are still going strong today. You can download a free report from Dr. Mercola called 20/20 Vision Without Glasses. I highly recommend downloading this report.
The main idea behind improving you eyesight
The fundamental premise behind improving you eyesight without glasses is that all “refractory” troubles with the eyes are caused by the muscles around the eyes distorting the shape of the eyes and the lenses in such a way as to cause poor vision. This distortion can be caused by the muscles being too tense or too loose. They are careful to say that the book does not cover eye problems caused by “organic disturbances, such as tumors, degeneration of the retina or of the optic nerve or of the visual centers of the brain” as these are the realm of an ophthalmologist. What they do say is that poor vision starts as some sort of strain that causes the muscles around the eyes to pull the eye out of the shape it should have. For this reason they are particularly critical of treating eyesight problems in children with glasses;
“Putting spectacles on children is one of the sins of the world. Instead of helping this small, defenseless person, it fastens upon him the very trouble for which glasses have been fitted.”
Based on the assumption that the eyesight problems are caused by poor usage of the eye and strain, putting glasses on the child does nothing to correct the root of the problem. It just instructs the eye to accept these problems and then, as is most commonly the case, the condition worsen with age and the strength of the glasses needs to be increased periodically.
Introduction to Dr. William H. Bates
This book was the first time I became aware of Dr. William H. Bates. He seems like an amazing man and scientist. My wife’s father also had a copy of his book called “Better Eyesight Without Glasses“. This book is phenomenal but also quite hard to read. I’m about half-way through it and have stalled on it a bit. Dr. Bates is a real ophthalmologist who observed some fundamental problems with prescribing glasses to correct eyesight problems.
Dr. Bates noticed that you could check peoples vision on different days, or even different times in the same day, and get quite varied results. The popularly accepted theory is that the lens gets deformed and that cannot be corrected and the only thing that can be done to help is apply a corrective lens. The concept that the quality of ones vision could be improved was incomprehensible at the time, as it still seems to be today. For some extreme proof that he was right, Dr. Bates did some eye tests and then deliberately made a very loud noise to surprise the patient. A second eye test done immediately after the loud noise revealed significantly worse vision. People with good vision would test poorly after the loud noise. This is one way to show that the mental state of the patient and the level of mental tension are directly related to the quality of a person’s eyesight.
A quote form Dr. Bates;
“In my own practice, I have seen cross-eyes straighten, astigmatism, farsightedness and near-sightedness vanish and hundreds of spectacles taken off never to be put on again. I have seen near-blindness cured”
In fact, the famous writer Aldous Huxley was cured by Dr. Bates and he wrote a book called “The Art of Seeing” in gratitude to the doctor. I haven’t seeked out a copy of that book yet.
What is the right way to read to conserve our eyes?
This list comes from Dr. Harold M. Peppard;
- Sit in an upright and relaxed position
- The head should be nearly upright also
- The book should be held 14-16 inches from the eyes
- Cultivate the habit of blinking once or twice to each line of print
- The light should be adequate but not too strong. The light should be placed at one side to the back. Reflected light or exposed light bulbs should not be in the field of vision.
- Don’t skim, read every word in its right sequence. Skimming produces eye strain, the very rapid reader is heading for certain eye trouble. If a paragraph does not hold much interest, pass on to the next paragraph. Skimming is harmful because the eye loses its capacity to focus and when that happens dim or blurred vision results.
- Do not read when you are ill or very tired. This puts an undue strain on the eyes.
What are some things we can do to improve our eyesight?
Based on these books, my summary of what we can do to improve our eyes is as follows;
- relaxation in general and of the eyes specifically (there is talk about techniques called “palming” and “swinging” to promote relaxation)
- never straining in order to see (including squinting) – our eyes are designed to see with almost no effort – distant viewing should take precisely zero effort
- improve the diet (increased vegetable based intake) to ensure adequate nutrients are reaching the eyes via the blood
- eye muscle strengthening exercises
- disposing of your glasses for as long as you can everyday
- if you must wear glasses, get a prescription that is a bit too weak and progressively weaken them as your eyes improve
- allow your eyes to get some sunlight – wearing sunglasses all the time weakens the eyes
The road forward
I still have a long way to go and I’m always struggling to find the discipline to do the relaxation exercises and the eye muscle strengthening exercises, but I have seen some significant improvement so I fully believe that this path is a recipe for success with my eyesight. I’ve had a strong astigmatism and quite powerful glasses for almost 30 years, so it’s not surprising that improving this situation will take some effort.
My sight certainly isn’t perfect (quite a way to go), but I’ve rarely had to wear glasses in the last year and that makes me feel good. The reason the Bates method hasn’t really caught on is probably because it’s so much less effort to just get some glasses and put them on. People like having quick easy fixes, unfortunately. In most cases, glasses are unnecessary and they prompt further deterioration of the eyes.
I’m certainly pushing ahead and will keep improving my eyesight naturally.
I’d love to hear if any of you have experiences of any techniques that have helped your eyesight. Please leave a comment and let me know about it.
Hi, here’s a tip from my mother. During the 2nd World War, she was desperate to join the war effort and sign up for the WRNS (Women’s Royal Navy Service), but she failed the eyesight test.
Her family’s doctor (Dr Ritchie) who was very interested in homeopathy and alternative remedies, recommended underwater eye exercises!
Each morning and night, she would have to submerge her face in a bowl of (clean!) water and do exercises, opening and shutting the eyes underwater; then other eye movement exercises like moving her eyes in a figure-of-eight movement, again underwater.
After a few weeks, her eyesight had improved significantly and she passed the eyesight test and got her wish to join the WRNS.
Thanks, Gloria, that’s an interesting story. I’ll enjoy looking into that to see if anyone else is suggesting eye exercises underwater. This is some more clear proof that our eyesight can improve, and we’re not condemned to poor eyesight and glasses for the rest of our lives.