However, he reported that some of his patients experienced "illusions of lights and colors" sometimes amounting to "kaleidoscopic appearances" as they "palmed", occurrences he attributed to his ubiquitous "strain" and that he claimed disappeared when one truly relaxed. In fact, even in conditions of perfect darkness, as inside a cave, neurons at every level of the visual system produce random background activity that is interpreted by the brain as patterns of light and color.
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Bates placed importance on mental images , as he felt relaxation was the key to clarity of imagination as well as of actual sight. While Bates preferred to have patients imagine something black, he also reported that some found objects of other colors easiest to visualize, and thus were benefited most by remembering those, because, he asserted, "the memory can never be perfect unless it is easy. He thought that the manner of eye movement affected the sight. He suggested "shifting", or moving the eyes back and forth to get an illusion of objects "swinging" in the opposite direction.
He believed that the smaller the area over which the "swing" was experienced, the greater was the benefit to sight. He also indicated that it was usually helpful to close the eyes and imagine something "swinging". By alternating actual and mental shifting over an image, Bates wrote, many patients were quickly able to shorten the "shift" to a point where they could "conceive and swing a letter the size of a period in a newspaper". Perhaps finding Bates' concepts of "shifting" and "swinging" too complicated, some proponents of vision improvement, such as Bernarr Macfadden , suggested simply moving the eyes up and down, from side to side, and shifting one's gaze between a near-point and a far-point.
Bates believed that the eyes were benefited by exposure to sunlight. Bates said that, just as one should not attempt to run a marathon without training, one should not immediately look directly at the sun, but he suggested that it could be worked up to. He acknowledged that looking at the sun could have ill effects, but characterized them as being "always temporary" and in fact the effects of strain in response to sunlight.
He wrote that he had cured people who believed that the sun had caused them permanent eye damage. Posthumous publications of Bates' book omitted mention of the supposed benefits from direct sunlight shining on open eyes. Bates' techniques have never been scientifically established to improve eyesight. After 6 months, the experimental groups "did not show any statistically significant difference in refractive status", though the children in the treatment group " subjectively … felt relieved of eye strain and other symptoms".
In the British Medical Journal observed that "Bates […] advocated prolonged sun-gazing as the treatment of myopia, with disastrous results.
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The philosopher Frank J. Leavitt has argued that the method Bates described would be difficult to test scientifically due to his emphasis on relaxation and visualization. Leavitt asked "How can we tell whether someone has relaxed or imagined something, or just thinks that he or she has imagined it? After Bates died in , his methods of treatment were continued by his widow Emily and other associates,  some of whom incorporated exercises and dietary recommendations. Margaret Darst Corbett first met Bates when she consulted him about her husband's eyesight.
She became his pupil, and eventually taught his method at her School of Eye Education in Los Angeles. In late , Corbett and her assistant were charged with violations of the Medical Practice Act of California for treating eyes without a licence. At the trial, many of her students testified on her behalf, describing in detail how she had enabled them to discard their glasses.
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One witness testified that he had been almost blind from cataracts, but that, after working with Corbett, his vision had improved to such an extent that for the first time he could read for eight hours at a stretch without glasses. Corbett explained in court that she was practicing neither optometry nor ophthalmology and represented herself not as a doctor but only as an "instructor of eye training".
Describing her method she said "We turn vision on by teaching the eyes to shift. We want the sense of motion to relieve staring, to end the fixed look. We use light to relax the eyes and to accustom them to the sun. The trial attracted widespread interest, as did the "not guilty" verdict. The case spurred a bill in the Californian State Legislature that would have then made such vision education illegal without an optometric or medical licence. After a lively campaign in the media, the bill was rejected.
Perhaps the most famous proponent of the Bates method was the British writer Aldous Huxley. This was mainly due to opacities in both corneas , complicated by hyperopia and astigmatism. He was able to read only if he wore thick glasses and dilated his better pupil with atropine , to allow that eye to see around an opacity in the center of the cornea.
In , at the age of 45 and with eyesight that continued to deteriorate, he happened to hear of the Bates method and sought the help of Margaret Corbett, who gave him regular lessons. 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. His case generated wide publicity as well as scrutiny.
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Lancaster, for example, suggested in that Huxley had "learned how to use what he has to better advantage" by training the "cerebral part of seeing", rather than actually improving the quality of the image on the retina. In , ten years after writing The Art of Seeing , Huxley spoke at a Hollywood banquet, wearing no glasses and, according to Bennett Cerf , apparently reading his paper from the lectern without difficulty.
Then suddenly he faltered—and the disturbing truth became obvious. He wasn't reading his address at all. He had learned it by heart. To refresh his memory he brought the paper closer and closer to his eyes. When it was only an inch or so away he still couldn't read it, and had to fish for a magnifying glass in his pocket to make the typing visible to him. It was an agonizing moment. In response to this, Huxley wrote "I often do use magnifying glasses where conditions of light are bad, and have never claimed to be able to read except under very good conditions.
Most base their approach in the Bates method, though some also integrate vision therapy techniques. The heavily advertised " See Clearly Method " of which sales were halted by a court order in November , in response to what were found to be dishonest marketing practices  included "palming" and "light therapy", both adapted from Bates. In his book The Bates Method, A Complete Guide to Improving Eyesight—Naturally , "Bates method teacher" Peter Mansfield was very critical of eye care professionals for prescribing corrective lenses, recommending most of Bates' techniques to improve vision.
The book included accounts of twelve "real cases", but did not report any information about refractive error. Czech native John Slavicek claims to have created an "eye cure" that improves eyesight in three days, borrowing from ancient yogic eye exercises, visualizations from the Seth Material , and the Bates method. Although he has testimonials from his neighbor and others, several of his students indicate that he has greatly exaggerated their cases.
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Slavicek's self-published manual, Yoga for the Eyes , was rejected by an ophthalmologist who evaluated it, and evinced no interest from the World Health Organization and St. Erik's Eye Foundation in Sweden as he had not conducted double-blind tests. In support of the effectiveness of the Bates method, proponents point to the many accounts of people allegedly having improved their eyesight by applying it. In the American Academy of Ophthalmology AAO published a review of various research regarding "visual training",  which consisted of "eye exercises, muscle relaxation techniques, biofeedback, eye patches, or eye massages", "alone or in combinations".
No evidence was found that such techniques could objectively benefit eyesight, though some studies noted changes, both positive and negative, in the visual acuity of nearsighted subjects as measured by a Snellen chart. In some cases noted improvements were maintained at subsequent follow-ups. However, these results were not seen as actual reversals of nearsightedness, and were attributed instead to factors such as "improvements in interpreting blurred images, changes in mood or motivation, creation of an artificial contact lens by tear film changes, or a pinhole effect from miosis of the pupil.
In the Ophthalmology Department of New Zealand's Christchurch Hospital published a review of forty-three studies regarding the use of eye exercises. They found that "As yet there is no clear scientific evidence published in the mainstream literature supporting the use of eye exercises" to improve visual acuity, and concluded that "their use therefore remains controversial.
A frequent criticism of the Bates method is that it has remained relatively obscure, which is seen as proof that it is not truly effective. MacRobert concluded in a article that the "most telling argument against the Bates system" and other alternative therapies was that they "bore no fruit". In regards to the Bates method, he reasoned that "If palming, shifting, and swinging could really cure poor eyesight, glasses would be as obsolete by now as horse-drawn carriages.
Discarding one's corrective lenses, as Bates recommended, or wearing lenses weaker than one's prescribed correction, as some Bates method advocates suggest, poses a potential safety hazard in certain situations, especially when one is operating a motor vehicle. One of the greatest potential dangers of faith in the Bates method is that a believer may be disinclined to seek medical advice regarding what could be a sight-threatening condition requiring prompt treatment, such as glaucoma.
Such treatment may include exercises, but which are different from those associated with the Bates method, and parents who subscribe to Bates' ideas may delay seeking conventional care until it is too late. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Bates method Alternative medicine William Bates and his assistant.
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Throw Away Your Glasses! Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. The goal is to develop, heal, or improve how you see. Vision therapy can help certain conditions other than nearsightedness , farsightedness , and astigmatism. Experts believe it may fix convergence insufficiency, for instance.
It can cause eye strain, double vision , and other problems. But not all eye doctors are sold on the idea. Eye Health Feature Stories. Who Might It Help? But doctors differ on whether visual therapy can fix other eye problems. Glasses or No Glasses?