First of all, I want to acknowledge Dr. Bates as the grandfather of vision training.
For a good part of his life Dr. Bates practiced ophthalmology the traditional way and taught at the New York Eye Hospital. He had amazing skills of observation and noticed that the prevailing theories about how the eyes focus were not what he observed in his clinical practice. Therefore, in 1903, he started to research and experiment using animals because he wanted to understand how the eyes focus.
After years of research Dr. Bates came to the conclusion that the lens and ciliary muscles are actually only a small part of the focusing function. He discovered that the oblique muscles located at the back of the eyes were a major factor in the eyes‘ ability to focus.
In an experiment during an operation, Dr. Bates made the nerve controlling the obique muscles numb and found that when the nerve was inhibited the eyes could not focus. However, when the nerve was active, the eyes focused normally. This experiment was observed and repeated several times but no official papers were written to record this phenomena.
Assuming that what Dr. Bates found is correct, it seems clear that the oblique muscles are a significant part of the eyes‘ ability to focus. Later, through his personal experiences with presbyopia, Dr. Bates came to the realisation that vision problems were caused by mental stress and, as a result, developed a method designed to relieve stress and strain in the eyes.
Think of the Bates Method, and the exercises Dr. Bates designed to relax the eyes, as a subset of the use-abuse-theory. Dr. Bates wrote that that mild myopia could be cured and moderate and severe myopia could be improved. Life in the early 1920s was much less demanding than it is today with the radio and electric light recently introduced. The Bates exercises are effective but more is needed for people today.
Over the years, many people have further contributed to and developed the Bates Method. Pioneers such as Margaret Corbet, Clara Hacket, Janet Goodrich, Peter Mansfield, Quacenbush and others have keept the Bates Method alive. My eyesight did not recover by using the Bates Method. In fact, I did not know about Dr. Bates until five years after I restored my eyesight to normal. I only became aware of Dr. Bates‘s work when I started to develop Vision Training workshops. At that time, in 1996, I started buying all the vision books I could find and “Improve your eyesight without glasses” was one of the books I read. I tried the exercises and found that they worked to a certain extent. However, many of the other books about vision improvement were, quite frankly, nonsense.
In order to be credible in a workshop one needs to present tools that are effective. People nowadays want instant improvement but the Bates Method is usually based on hourly sessions called Bates Lessons. I found that these are less efficient than two-day workshops, where people can obtain much better and, therefore, more motivating results.
The Bates Method requires hourly lessons. My approach is to hold two-day seminars.
The problem many Bates Teachers/Coaches have is that improvements are not impressive enough to cause people to come back for more lessons. My goal for participants is to show them that they have control over their eyesight and to tell them precisely what exercises they should do. Hopefully, participants are motivated to actually do these exercises and restore their vision to normal.
As far as I know, Dr. Bates did not describe any exercises for astigmatism, hyperopia or eye coordination apart from palming (covering the eyes with the palms of your hands) and sunning. Today, people in Vision Training workshops have problems caused by prescription glasses being too strong. Modern inventions, such as progressive lenses and Ortho-k lenses cause people’s eyes to adapt and develop problems Dr. Bates never imagined would occur.
My approach is based on the assumption that the focusing of the eye is functional. That is, all muscles work together to produce clear eyesight dynamically as the eyes constantly move and take in the visual world. Dr. Bates explained how that was possible through the actions of the two oblique muscles. Peter Green (1978) confirmed that tension in the oblique muscles is the main contributing factor to the development of myopia.
Therefore, as Dr. Bates understood, stress and eyestrain caused by tension held in any of the muscles in and around the eyes needs to be released before improvement becomes possible. My remedy is hot and cold towels applied over closed eyes alternately three times. This is an old grandmother remedy but it works and feels like a spa treatment. You would need to do days of palming to obtain the same effect.
Dr. Bates also understood that having energy in the eyes was important as well, and his solution was sunning. This means allowing the sun to shine directly on the closed eyelids and this actually provides about 20 minutes‘ energy for the eyes. However, the sun is not always available so another method is needed even though electric lamps do not have the same energy.
What cured my eyesight was an energy exercise from Pranic Healing, developed
by Choa Kok Sui (1985). I have found that having energy in your eyes is a prerequisite
for restoring your eyesight. Tired eyes cannot be improved. In some cases, when there is a high degree of myopia or presbyopia, it may be necessary to do the energy exercise every hour for a week.
Physical exercises of the visual system are also necessary to bring your eyesight back to normal. These can be considered as gymnastics for the eyes or, to put it another way, physiotherapy for the eyes.
Finally, in order to do the exercises often enough you need to believe that improvement is possible. I did, 24 years ago, but is it possible for you? The workshop will help you and, most likely, your glasses or contact lenses will be too strong at the end of the workshop. But you will see things more clearly.
The workshop is structured in such a way that you gradually begin to realise that iimproving your eyesight is something you can actually do. This is the source of motivation - something can actually be done.
Also, a lot of convincing needs to be done since people have been subjected to the so-called evidence-based approach which says that your eyesight can only be corrected with glasses. The prevailing idea seems to be that poor eyesight cannot be cured .
In reality, most people do not care whether Vision Training is scientific or not. What they want to know is whether it works, whether it can help them. It certainly works and I am living proof of that. I have enjoyed perfect eyesight for
the last 24 years after wearing glasses for 26. I know what I am talking about