Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Improving vision, naturally - The Bates Method is the mainstay of the natural vision improvement. Though it's not accepted by the mainstream

The Bates Method is the mainstay of the natural vision improvement. Though it's not accepted by the mainstream, it has many followers.

THE Bates Method is a system that is claimed by some to improve sight and restore the "natural habits" of seeing. It is the mainstay of the natural vision improvement movement.

First described by ophthalmologist William Horatio Bates in 1920 in a book entitled Perfect Sight Without Glasses, the Bates Method is rejected by mainstream opthalmology. However, many people claim to have been helped by the method.

In essence, the method is based on Bates' theory of accommodation of the eye, and his recommended practices for improving wsion. Accommodation is the process by which the eye maintains focus on the retina. So when the eyes change from viewing a distant object to a near object, accommodation is taking place.

Bates felt that the eye focuses by elongating the eyeball through use of the extraocular oblique muscles. This is contradicted by mainstream ophthalmology. The orthodox view is that accommodation of the eye is brought about by the action of the ciliary muscle on the eye's crystalline lens. Supporters believe that even if his theory is wrong, his methods do work.

The thrust of the Bates Method is that to have better vision, relaxing the eyes is vital. Strain or effort makes vision worse, so relaxing the eyes can help improve vision. The way to better eyesight is through relaxation of both mind and body.

To do this, there are several exercises that he recommends. We'll look at a few of these techniques:


This essentially requires you to close your eyes with the cups of your palms. The rationale behind it is that it calms the visual system. Make sure your palms are cupped to avoid exerting pressure on the eyeballs, and cup your palms in such a manner that as little light as possible is allowed through. The most important thing is to relax.


While you are palming, you can also visualise anything. In your mind's eye, try to remember as much detail as possible of the scene or image you're visualising. Bates felt that the perfect memory can be produced if only one is free of strain.


This is aimed at promoting the correct use of the eyes. The centre of the retina, the fovea, is densely populated with retinal receptors. Hence, vision is at its best here. So, instead of staring at the entire image, focusing at the centre reduces the strain of trying to get the entire image in detail.

These are but some of the exercises recom- mended by Bates.

In addition to the exercise, there's also an aid to help improve vision. In essence, it's pinhole glasses, which gives the wearer smaller but sharper images via the pinhole effect, and may help train the eye.

It is recommended for use indoors, to be worn as a substitute for normal prescription glasses. Obviously, it should not to be worn during driving!

The holes in pinhole glasses (also known as stenopeic glasses) have the effect of reducing the width of the rays coming from the object you're viewing.

Pinholes can bring about clearer vision by blocking peripheral rays that "bend" improperly, and only letting into the eye those rays that pass through the central portion of the pupil. Hence, any refractive error is not noticed as much.

In effect, your eyes are wide open, but only the central portion is receiving light, and the improvement in visual acuity can be striking for some people. Using such glasses instead of prescription glasses for periods of time, along with the exercises recommended in the Bates Method, may help improve vision.



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