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  • Writer's pictureJoyce Davis

Vision Training

I just held the palms of my hands over both eyes while thinking of when I walked through our cherry orchard to an open field where my horse was tethered on a chain long enough for him to graze a fifty-foot circle.

He whinnied in greeting; I unclipped the chain and climbed aboard. Together we galloped back through the cherry orchard up to the house for water and an evening.

Sitting here now, I followed a suggestion offered by The Bates Method of vision training. That is to rub your palms together, cup them over your eyes, and think of something pleasant.

The idea is to relax the eyes.

I mentioned The Bates method on my January 25, 2019, blog after I stumbled upon Aldous Huxley's book The Art of Seeing and read:

"Suppose crippled eyes could be transformed into crippled legs," Huxley quoted Mathew Luckiesh, Director of General Electric's Lighting Research laboratory. "What a heart-rendering parade we would witness on a busy street. Nearly every other person would go limping by. Many would be on crutches and some on wheelchairs."

Huxley states that when legs are imperfect, the medical profession makes every effort to get the patient walking again without crutches, if possible. "Why should it not be possible to do something analogous for defective eyes?"

Well, look who's talking. I wear glasses, and I took the Bates method of vision training.

That was 30 years ago. (A time when that Phone Book print became minuscule and blurry.)

During my Bates training, I got verification that my exercises were working. While sitting in a dimly-lighted restaurant, I was the only one of six people present who could read the menu.

Many of the students taking the training at the same time I did—although the training was one on one, used passing the DMV's Driver's License eye test without glasses as a goal.

At the end of my training, my vision tested 20/20, and I could read the phone book.

Now I wear glasses to read and to view the computer screen.

Some could say it's aging.

I say I've been negligent.

I wonder, too, since the eye is an extension of the brain—reaching right out there via the optic nerve, how that differs from, let's say, our legs. Do the eyes have a more brain/eye influence?

My Naturopath told me my brain doesn't care if my legs fall off. It's concerned about itself, the brain, and the heart. So it has its priorities in order.

I googled the Bates method, and what did I find? Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of Women's Minds, omen's Bodies, is on YouTube touting the Bates Method. She said that although she wears contacts, her vision has stayed the same since she was 16.

Remember how we were taught that genes are compact little gems that gather together to make us. Then, we considered them unalterable and unchangeable—not now.

"Remember, you are in the driver's seat of your health, and you can make a profound change."

–Dr. Christiane Northrup.

Northrup told of a study on two groups ages 80 plus. After testing their vitals, hearing eyesight, and such, they were told to go to a quiet place, like a monastery, and pretend they were living in the 1950s. They were to speak as though they were living then and to watch TV and films from the 50s. At the end of the study, all their vitals were better, and they looked 10 years younger, while the test group who went on, as usual, showed no change.

Do you know how easy it is to take a pill for some disorder, or go to the optometrist for a prescription for glasses, slap them on, and go on our merry way?

I'm not saying I don't go to the optometrist; indeed, I go. Get a diagnosis, and wait to throw away your glasses until it is possible to see well without them. That may never happen, but wouldn't it be great if our eyesight never worsened?

A few things I remember from my Bates training that will not change the basic structure of the eye—unless it does with relaxations strengthening the muscles, those sorts of things. Oh, yes, and sunning the eyes—that may be controversial. DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN. The idea is to close one eye, look down so that the pupil is below your eyelid, hold the eyelid up with your hand, and allow the sun to shine on the white of your eye.

  • This exercise aims to encourage the production of visual purple, a chemical in the eye. You know, when walking from light to dark, as in a movie theater, you can hardly see at first? Shortly after, you can see much better. That is caused by an increase in your visual purple.

  • Looking near to far will help your accommodation. When sitting at your desk, find a spot out the window and often focus on that far-a-way spot. Or place a big letter down the hall and look at that if you have no window.

  • The Bates trainer handed me a rope, and she held the other end. This was an exercise near too far. Have your eyes focus on your hand, down the rope to her hand and back.

  • The trainer emphasized allowing your first judgment to be correct and that your eyes won't lie, like when reading small numbers. Believe your eyes. We are mistaken much of the time, but gradually through trust, we learn.

  • The most profound exercise was the blind walk. The trainer blindfolded me and led me out to the sidewalk. I was to walk down the street and find my way back. to (OMG, now I have trouble finding my car in the parking lot with both eyes open.) Well, I ran into parked cars, got disoriented, and went in circles, but I didn't get run over or become lost forever. (She was there with me all along.)

All those exercises had little change in my vision until she brought cards where she could slide them apart or together as I focused on them. It seemed that I was crossing my eyes, but it taught me how it felt to have my eyes come into alignment. A bio-feedback sort of arrangement.

One of the most amazing experiences related to that training was that one day while looking at a magazine picture, it looked three-dimensional. Of course, I knew it was a two-dimensional picture on a page, but I clearly saw depth between the images.

A friend's little boy in Riverside, California had some eye condition; his eyes weren't converging correctly. The treatment, although not the Bates Method, was for him to jump on a trampoline behind a wall just high enough so that when he jumped, he could see over the wall. Something on the wall behind the low wall gave him a focal point. That treatment must have worked to correct his vision, for he didn't wear glasses and went on to become a professor, so I would say he could read.

In the preface to the book, The Art of Seeing, Huxley describes how, at sixteen, he had a violent attack of keratitis punctate, which made him nearly blind for eighteen months and left him with severely impaired sight after that. He managed to live as a sighted person with the aid of strong spectacles, but reading, in particular, was a great strain. In 1939, his ability to read became increasingly worse, and he sought the help of Margaret Corbett, a teacher of the Bates method. He found this immensely helpful and wrote: "At the present time, my vision, though very far from normal, is about twice as good as it used to be when I wore spectacles, and before I had learned the art of seeing."

The book is rather spendy, $21-$36, but you can find it for free online at:

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