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Bates Method Eye Exercises to Improve Your Vision
Our entire culture has upon occasion been carried away with misunderstandings. Take eyeglasses, for example. Almost everyone believes that eyeglasses are a good way to deal with poor vision. People who buy into this often wear clunky apparatus on their faces for years. Others put up with contacts or scary procedures on their corneas. Let's see where this belief comes from, then consider a new understanding. Maybe there's a better option.
For more than a century, doctors have been telling us that the little ring of material that holds the lens is a muscle. See #15 in the first picture. They tell us that we focus by using this ring to pull on the lens, stretching it, Imagine that! That little ring does all the work!
Now, consider the large group of muscles behind the eye, as shown in a simplified view in the second picture. It doesn't show the entire mass of muscle that's there. Those muscles are what turns the eye from side to side and up and down. What if they could work in unison to squeeze the eye? That would be a much better way to change focus, wouldn't it?
If that turns out to be how we focus, then it would also make sense that we could exercise those muscles, just like any other muscles, and refind our ability. That's what I have done. Both of my parents wore glasses all their lives. All of my four grandparents wore glasses. Yet, I don't.
About 20 years ago, I started to have trouble seeing clearly at a distance. 'Time for glasses,' I thought. Then I happened across a book by a Dr. William Bates, called "The Bates Method for Better Eyesight Without Glasses," written in 1929. His book was rather complex, nebulous, generally hard to understand. But I did get the general idea, and started doing some exercises. And guess what? My vision improved entirely! Ten years later, my vision started to fail for seeing up close. I did more exercises, and it has come back almost entirely. My vision is really very good, and so I am far from needing glasses. Do I have scientific studies to back up my claim? No, all I can claim is that my vision improved. Actually, I do have a little more anecdotal evidence. I published a freeware program way back in the pre-Windows (DOS) days that contained some eye exercises. I recieved a few dozen letters (this was before email) from people telling me the exercises worked. I never received a letter saying they didn't.
So. I leave it up to you. You can play with these exercises and see if they'll work for you. I would recommend that you first check with an eye care professional, to make sure that you are not one of those rare individuals who needs medical attention for a serious vision problem. So...
If you have trouble seeing up close, do these exercises with close objects. The right distance is where things are just hard to see clearly. No so far away that they are clear, and not so close that they are way out of focus.
If you have trouble seeing at a distance, you'll want to get as far away from the exercise object as you can, without being so far away that you can't see it just because it is too small. The good news is that anything from about ten feet away is pretty much the same as infinite distance, so if you are in a small room, it will still be useful even if all you can do is stand across the room.
#1. Rub your hands together vigorously until the palms are quite warm, then press them gently to your eyes as they cool. Do this two or three times. This has a calming effect, You have probably already noticed that you can see more clearly when you are calm than otherwise.
#2. Look at something distant for perhaps 5 seconds, then something close for five seconds. Do this two or three times. It doesn't matter if you see them clearly or not. You're just stretching your ability to change focus. Do this with both eyes together, then with one eye gently covered, then the other.
#3. For those who would like to improve distant vision, look at a distant object that has a clean vertical line such as a telephone poll. For those who want to improve close vision, look at something with a clearly defined vertical edge, such as the letter I or the edge of a sheet of paper. Do not strain to see this vertical edge, Just let it be as clear as it will, nothing more is required. Do this for just a few seconds, first with both eyes, then with one eye gently covered, then the other covered.
That's all there is to it!
Here's where the magic comes in: For this to really work, you've got to do it ten times a day. They can be random times - whenever you think of it. Since these exercises take only a few minutes, ten times a day should be easy. But, if you do it ten times a day, you'll probably discover, as I did, that the improvement comes quickly. Sometimes within just a week or two.
About your specs: You've come to depend on your glasses or contacts. You really, truly don't want to do these exercises while wearing your glasses. In fact, you'll probably do best to start removing your glasses as much as you can - all day, every day, to the extent that you can. Of course, you'll want to wear them for driving and any time safety is an issue. And, if you need to read, or do continuous work that would give you a headache or other symptoms without glasses, then by all means, wear them. However, as much as you can, if you just let yourself see as clearly as you can without your glasses - without straining, I believe this will help your vision improve tremendously.
So where am I now? My distant vision is perfect. I can read easily, and see close work well, without glasses, of course. However my left eye is a bit weaker. And, for close work like threading a needle, I do want a lot of light. I will admit that I haven't been doing the exercises lately, and am rather convinced that if I start doing them again, my left eye will come back entirely, and with either eye, I'll be able to see very close, even in dark conditions.
What are the limits? I've seen young children looking at bugs from 4 inches away. I've heard that a teenage girl in South America was able to look at Jupiter without any sort of equipment, and draw an accurate picture of the locations of the four largest moons.
I'd love to hear how well this is working for you. Please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments, findings, etc. - Jeff
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