Visions of Joy - Natural Eyesight Improvement - Vision Education
The School of Optimal Eyesight
Improve your vision and overcome the need for glasses or contacts while avoiding laser surgery

Children's Eyesight
Help your child see better

baby using laptopIt is impossible for me to personally teach the ease of vision improvement to every parent and every child, yet part of me truly wishes I could do so. For parents who can not bring their child to a few eyesight lessons, please know that there is much you can do yourself! The information I provide on this page will hopefully inspire you to help your child avoid vision problems, or reverse such problems if the child's sight has already been affected.

Vision varies greatly in the first year of life
For some years Dr. Bates tested the eyes of newborn children and he kept records of their vision over their childhood years. He found that vision varies tremendously in the first 6 months, changing from normal to hyperopic (farsighted) to astigmatism and back to normal on a regular basis. Only after 6 months or by 1 year old the eyes become more continuously normal.

At four to six years of age, just before they begin school, their vision is usually normal. After a year or more in school hyperopia tends to start and increases every year. Myopia (nearsightedness) tends to appear around age 10 or 12 and increases while hyperopia gets less by then.
Bates noticed some children change from hyperopia one year to myopia the next, then back to hyperopia, and then to normal.

Today glasses are prescribed for young and old generally without any previous effort to remedy the defects which are supposed to make them necessary, while at the same time it is common knowledge that glasses do not in themselves do our eyes any intrinsic good.
R Brooks Simpkins, New Light on the Eyes, p77, 1958

Glasses are not a good solution

Children's vision can vary so much that it really does not make sense to try fit them with something as static as glasses. Glasses only reinforce the strain and create worse vision over time.

Dr. Bates guaranteed that he could cure any child under the age of 16 if they had not yet worn glasses. He said they would usually be cured within a few days, weeks or months, and always within a year.

Children improve their vision faster
harry potter wearing glassesBecause children have not yet worn glasses for many years, have not yet developed chronic habits of strain, they often return easily and quickly to clear vision. Even when they already have worn glasses, children tend to be quicker at overcoming vision challenges than adults.

There are millions of school children who have vision problems. Farsightedness is so common that it is considered to be normal for children to be hyperopic and that nothing can be done to prevent it. In lower grades typically 80% are hyperopic, 10% myopic, and in higher grades this tends to balance out.

Bates said these common vision problems in children undermine their health and wastes the taxpayers' money. It is an expense and a handicap to them throughout their lives. In many cases it is a source of continual misery and suffering. And yet practically all of these cases could be cured and the development of new ones prevented - in a very simple way.

Myopia, in more than ninety-five percent of cases, 
begins between five and ten years of age.
It increases largely because the myopic eye is given a minus lens.

Dr. Rasmussen

Looking at familiar versus unfamiliar objects
Dr. Bates observed that when children look at an unfamiliar object on the blackboard, something new that they have not seen before, the retinoscope always showed that they were myopic at that point, even though their vision would be normal under other circumstances. When they looked at familiar objects, they were able to look at it without strain and therefore with normal vision.

If a child first looks at a familiar object, and is able to relax with it, and then he looks at an unfamiliar object at the same distance, the strain of looking at the unfamiliar object will be less. Children soon become able to maintain the relaxation that they gained from looking at the familiar object and look at unfamiliar objects without strain also.

Letting the eyechart become familiar
Due to this difference in reaction to familiar and unfamiliar images, Bates found that it became easier for children to read an eyechart when they became familiar with it. If he left an eyechart up on the wall, next to the blackboard, the children would use it as their familiar object. They would learn to relax their eyes with it. Then they look back at the blackboard and keep that relaxation so they could see the blackboard better. Reading the eyechart regularly improved their vision both for the chart as well as for other things.

Children whose vision was below normal, improved, in most cases to normal vision. Children who already had normal sight, 20/20, became able to read 20/15 or 20/10. This was regardless of the light conditions in the room.

Keep an eyechart in a classroom permanently
Before this system was introduced in one particular classroom, the teacher had noticed that each of the 15 years she had been teaching, at the start of school the children had no trouble reading the blackboard from their seats, but by springtime they could not read it beyond 10 feet away. She kept the eyechart in her classroom and let the children read it every day. The result was that since then, none of the children in her class got vision problems.

Because of this success in one school, the system of using an eyechart was introduced into all the schools of Grand Forks, North Dakota, where Bates worked. These schools used charts continuously for 8 years, with as many as 2,000 school children. At the beginning of that period 6% of the children were nearsighted, while only 1 % was nearsighted at the end. All the others had improved to the point of normal vision, and new students generally avoided myopia.

Eyecharts helped both nearsighted and farsighted students
In these school experiments, not only was myopia cured, but hyperopia improved also. Bates did not anticipate this. Hyperopia was considered to be congenital, something you were born with, and astigmatism in most cases was also believed to be present at birth.

With his retinoscope, Dr. Bates could show that when children learn to read, - or write, draw or do anything that requires them to look at unfamiliar objects up close, - their eyes would always show hyperopia or hyperopic astigmatism.

What children need most for their vision
So what children need more than anything is to learn how to keep their vision relaxed when looking at unfamiliar things. Only after they become able to look at the near point without strain, can they expect to make much progress with their studies. In every case that Dr. Bates worked with, he could always reach that goal by getting the children to practice daily with a letter-chart. Once they can stay relaxed with the chart at distance, it can be brought closer and they learn to do the same for their near vision.

As happy 'side-effects' of improved vision the children experienced less headaches, less fatigue, and had better attitudes.

Regardless of Dr. Bates' success, the Board of Education decided the use of eyecharts in classrooms was "unscientific and erroneous" and they forbade the use of eyecharts in schools - other than for the usual purpose of occasionally testing the children's sight.

Dr. Bates' children
Bates' own children were once sent home from school with a note that they needed glasses. He tested them and found nothing wrong, and asked the teacher if an eyechart could be placed in their classrooms. This was approved, but soon his young daughter came home from school in tears because she had been teased about the eyechart. Bates knew it would do no good to have her read the eyechart under those conditions, so he had her read it at home. Both children kept perfect eyesight, but Bates realized that very few children would be that lucky.

DO's and DON'Ts for working on your child's vision
First some DON'Ts:
DON'T be harsh with children, they tense up instantly. Forcing them to do anything simply does not work. Telling them to SIT STILL and LISTEN is not conducive to relaxing their eyes.
DON'T give up too soon... Until a child actually sees better, even if just for a moment, they may not understand what you are doing for them and may be uncooperative. Be inventive and find different ways of helping them to relax. As soon as one method works, you will have their attention and cooperation.
DON'T let children play with anyone's glasses! Toddler's and young children's eyes are very fast at adapting to the prescription in those lenses, which is not what you want them to adapt to...

Some DO’s
DO take some lessons from an experienced Bates teacher, and learn how to help your child at home.
DO be kind and gentle with children. Abundant love and praise will help their eyes relax.
DO let the child sleep in a dark room, especially in the first 2 years of life. (see this research)
DO place a letter-chart in the child's bedroom and let them become familiar with it.
DO have FUN and play games, especially ball games.
DO involve other kids in the games, especially friends of the child.
DO let them be as noisy as they like.
DO find subjects that the child is particularly interested in, this makes everything flow so much easier!
DO praise the child often.
DO lots of outdoor play – get them into fresh air and sunshine, aim for an average of at least 2 hours outside per day, and let them be out there without glasses as much as possible. (see this research)
DO encourage a healthy diet by supplying fruit instead of candy bars or sweets. (see this research and nutrition)
DO write down their progress with the letter-chart every week.

Eyestrain can be cured so easily in the average child by Dr. Bates' method that it should be against the law to fit children with glasses.
Paul Hotson, OD, Better Eyesight magazine, December 1925

It is not difficult nor tedious to improve vision. Children can be spared from years of misery, eyestrain, teasing, inferiority, and worsening eyesight, and various physical and mental problems as they get older - the typical problems that come with wearing glasses. Children will be happier and healthier overall - please help them see with clarity.

Further reading on this topic:
ebook: Eye Education in Our Schools and read the School Teachers page
ebook: The Bates Method View of Strabismus / Squint and On-Sight Solutions ~ Strabismus
ebook: Fairy Tales for Better Eyesight (this is available on request)
Children's picture book: I See Clearly (or buy a nicer quality print here) by Orit Kruglanski (Also in Spanish: "Veo Bien")
NEW: Play your Way to Better Eyesight by Orit Kruglanski. (a parents guide to helping your child see better)
Janet Goodrich's book: How to Improve Your Child's Eyesight Naturally: A Thoughtful Parent's Guide
Emily Lierman's book: Stories from the clinic
Testimonials about children's improved eyesight.

Distribution permission
The above is condensed from the lecture "Focus on Children's Eyes" presented by Esther Joy van der Werf at the 2nd British Natural Eyesight Conference, held in Felden, England, 30 October 2010.
Permission to use, copy, and/or distribute the above information is hereby granted, provided that no fee is charged and that this permission notice and the source appear in all copies.
(Source:, February 2014/February 2023)

Whatever we automatically decide to do about our own lenses, and whatever indifference we may feel about what the remainder of the adults are doing, have we not, every one of us, a battling interest in the sea of troubles that is being launched upon the children, in this deluge of spectacles with which they are being overwhelmed?  
Do we not want to know whether or not it is possible to give them back their own eyes, free and strong and independent?  
If it is possible, and that is being proved every day, do we not want to know why the eyes of the children are being denied what every other faculty and function of their minds and bodies are being given 
- the care and education which is their right?

W.B. MacCracken, in "Use Your Own Eyes" (download this book)

I received a question via facebook about the information on this page, which I answer below. Other questions are welcome. If appropriate I'll answer them here.

'D' wrote: "So children are asked to read an eye chart (the same one that the eye Dr uses to assess your vision) once each day??? Do you ask them to read a particular line?? I just don't understand how this helps their vision? Don't they start to memorize the letters???"

Esther's answer: Hi 'D', the chart does not need to be the same one doctors use, but it can be. They use it as often as they like, no limit, but once a day is a nice minimum. They read as far down as they can without straining to see, preferably from a distance where they can read at least half the chart or more. Memorizing is allowed, even encouraged, because the goal is to get them to relax with the chart. The more relaxed they are, the less eyestrain, the better they see. They gradually learn to stay relaxed longer so their vision clears up more permanently. Quite simple and very effective. Add a few Bates lessons to it and they will make progress even faster. Hope this helps! love, E

Note: download a free eyechart

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