Bates Method in a Nutshell
The Basics of Better Eyesight:
Instructions on how to improve your vision with
simple eye exercises and visual habits

"Vision Without Glasses" program
Completely Natural Way To Improve Your Eyesight. Guaranteed!
Read Clearly Naturally
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Written by Alex Eulenberg in 1995, based on Better Eyesight Without Glasses by William H. Bates (New York: Henry Holt, 1981), Chapter 24, "Fundamental Principles of Treatment", pp. 193-200.

Last revision, May 18, 2009.

The means to better vision is through relaxing the eyes. Rest makes vision better, strain or effort makes vision worse. There are several ways to rest the eyes.

  1. Close your eyes. While doing this, think of something agreeable.

  2. Cover your eyes. Called "palming". If you cover your eyes so as to exclude all light, the eyes will be able to achieve a greater degree of relaxation. Cover both eyes with the palms of your hands, your fingers crossed on your forehead. Note: in order to be successful, you must be able to relax while palming. Some people cannot do this, and palming becomes counterproductive. The blacker the field you see, the more relaxed you are. But if you "try" to see black, this may cause more strain. Don't try to see black: it is better to imagine a concrete, familiar object or scene.

  3. Observe the swing of things. As you move your gaze from one point to another, things seen should move in the opposite direction. For example, if you look at the upper left corner of the letter "H" and then shift your gaze to the lower left corner, the "H" should appear to move, or "swing" up. If it doesn't, this is a sign of strain. There are a variety of exercises to practice the swing. You can gently swing your whole body to the left and to the right, and watch a distant tree swing to the right and to the left, you can move just your head, or just your eyes. The better the vision, the shorter the swing can be made to be.

  4. Use your imagination. By seeing things with your mind's eye, and remember them in precise detail, you increase your ability to see actual objects better. The perfect memory of any sensation can be produced only when one is free of strain. It also helps, when practicing with a test card, to imagine that the part of a letter that one is looking at is blacker than the rest of the letter, or to imagine a small letter within a small black spot of a letter. In this way you direct your mind to appreciating finer and finer detail.

  5. Catch those flashes. When your eyes finally achieve a state of relaxation through swinging or palming, you will see a "clear flash"; paradoxically, the sight of everything in focus is such a surprise that it causes strain, and the blur returns. So before the clear picture blurs out, close your eyes and remember the image in its full sharpness and clarity.

  6. Keep your vision centered. When you regard an object, only one small part should be seen best. This is because only the center of the retina -- the fovea -- has the best vision for detail. Farther away from the fovea, the retinal receptors get progressively less able to pick up fine detail. Therefore, trying to catch all the detail with all of your retina at once causes strain because it cannot be done! To be able to see all the details of an image, put each detail into the center of your visual field, where it can be seen best, one at a time. Allow each detail to become less clear as you move away from it and center in on the next detail.

  7. Enjoy the sun. Get out into the open and enjoy every sunny day. It is especially relaxing and stimulating to the eyes if you close your eyes and let the sun shine onto your lids as you sway back and forth.

  8. Practice with a test card. Keep an eye chart on the wall. To practice, stand from 10 to 20 feet away, and read the smallest line that you can without straining. Then look at one of the letters on that line and close your eyes. Remember that letter -- go over every detail in your mind; shift from part to part, from curve to corner and so on. When you open your eyes, you will see not only that letter better, but also the one below it. If you find yourself staring at the letters, which results in the line becoming blurred as soon as it comes into focus, it is best to close the eyes before this can happen. When you open them, shift to another letter on the same line. If you close your eyes for each letter, you will become able to read the whole line. Practice every day for five minutes or more and keep a record of your progress.

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