you have a question about your vision?
Here is an overview of frequently asked questions (FAQs) along
with my answers, which may give you some extra clarity and enhance
If your questions are not answered here, e-mail
me; I usually reply within a few days.
How You See ~ Not How You Look
0. When will the new book be published?
the "Bates Method Nuggets" became available in paperback
and as ebook in 2010, and
(the Dutch book about the Bates Method with Saskia Naber) was
published in that same year, I am now happy to say that my new
book "Read Without Glasses
at Any Age" is available! This book is for people with
presbyopia or hyperopia, both are forms of farsightedness that
make reading at the near point difficult. You can overcome that
problem, and I give you easy ways to get to the point of throwing
out your reading glasses, regardless of your age.
I will bask a little in the wonderful feeling of accomplishment
that publishing this book has given me, yet there is 1 more
book 'in the pipeline'. I continue to work on 'The Joy
of Seeing', which will be a user guide to the Bates method,
distilling its essence for people with nearsightedness and astigmatism.
It describes my experiences with the method, both on a personal
level and as a teacher. It will make the method easy to
understand and easy to apply, so you can improve your own eyesight.
I believe this last book too will be well worth the wait! I
will be happy to keep you up to date about the publication schedule
if you send me an email asking to
be put on the mailing list.
1. Can eyesight improve naturally?
- Many people notice their vision fluctuates - down and up.
Eyesight is often worse during periods of stress, fatigue,
illness, etc, and better during periods of relaxation; say,
for example, in the morning after a good night sleep, or during
a vacation. The theory that eyesight cannot improve naturally
simply does not agree with many people's experiences of their
own eyesight. People who have maintained excellent eyesight
are people who have not acquired strained vision habits.
The key to normal sight is relaxation, or, more specifically,
relaxed vision habits.
- Natural vision teachers have watched students improve their
eyesight naturally since the early 1900s. While this education
process is relatively simple, it can take several months or
several years for some students to achieve the improvement they
want. Dedication, practice, persistence, the willingness
to heal, and patience are necessary. The correct vision
habits need to be applied consistently. Fortunately, they are
not complicated and anyone can learn them!
- Our body has amazing abilities when it comes to recovering
from stress and injury. When given the opportunity to
rest and recover, why should the eyes be an exception to our
innate healing abilities?
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2. What's the principle behind natural vision improvement?
The principle behind natural eyesight improvement is dynamic
relaxation (use, or motion, without undue tension). Blurry
vision is caused by tense eye muscles, and relaxation of those
muscles brings back clarity. That is the core of it.
The Bates Method consists of various techniques to release the
tension of those muscles, as 'one size does not fit all' in
this regard. It is not a set of eye-exercises, which is a common
misunderstanding of the Bates Method. See these two short videos:
3. Are there any side effects to the Bates Method?
Yes! Positive ones! You may risk experiencing any
one or all of the following effects when you start practicing
the Bates Method: Reduced eye strain; better depth perception;
seeing colors brighter; lack of ocular headaches; improved memory;
better visualization skills; a sunny disposition as well as
a healthy suntan... There really are no negative side
effects. The worst I experienced was a little soreness
around my left eye for a few days as those muscles let go of
16 years of strain. Such mild soreness around the eyes
is a fairly common occurrence yet it passes quickly. A
few people experience some twitching of the eye-lids, this too
is temporary and does not last long. There are no permanent
negative side effects at all, unless you regret no longer supporting
the optical industry...
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4. Where is the proof that vision can improve?
- The best proof is in the pudding, as they say. Learn
it yourself and discover new clarity like so many others have
done before you. Other than my
own vision improvement and testimonials
from students, there are countless case histories described
in Dr Bates' Better
- The famous writer Aldous Huxley (author of Brave New World),
wrote a natural eyesight improvement book called The Art
of Seeing after improving his eyesight with the Bates method.
He took lessons from NEI teacher Margaret Corbett, who trained
with Dr Bates.
- Dr MacCracken, MD, trained under Dr Bates and taught natural
vision improvement in Berkeley, California for many years. Many
case histories of improved eyesight can be found in his excellent
1937 book Use Your Own Eyes.
5. How about scientific proof?
The first modern research on natural eyesight improvement was
published in Scientific American back in 1918. In addition
to the empirical experiences of natural eyesight students, there
have been many studies since then confirming Dr. Bates' basic
premise: Poor eyesight is the result of strain, and relaxing
the chronic strain improves vision. See the articles
page for recent publications.
- Optometrist Dr Robert-Michael Kaplan co-investigated a study
demonstrating improvements of visual acuity as a result of relaxation,
stating "...myopic persons could be trained to produce
relaxation, which results in sharper visual acuities..."
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6. How long will it take to return to clear vision?
That depends. It is different for everyone and varies
with the strength of the prescription and the number of years
glasses were worn. It also depends on how well you understand
the principles of natural eyesight improvement, on how much
you apply them, on how good your overall health is, how stressed
you are and how you deal with that stress. Furthermore,
it depends on the experience and ability of your teacher.
There really is no one answer to this question that applies
My own experience proves that clear (20/20 or better) vision
can return within a few weeks, under relaxed circumstances and
with conscious awareness of vision habits. There have
been cases in Dr Bates' clinic who regained perfect eyesight
(20/10) almost immediately. This may happen for you too,
but it is not similarly quick for everyone. I've seen
a presbyopic man who hadn't yet worn glasses return to clarity
in one hour; while a nearsighted friend who couldn't see any
letters on the eye-chart without his glasses read the 20/50
line without glasses after one month. Some people make
fast progress, others go slow. How long did it take you
to get to this point of deteriorated vision?? Often many
years of bad habits need to be unlearned, and it may take a
little determination and persistence to get back to healthy
vision. Ultimately, it is your
choice. The good news is, it does NOT matter how old
you are or how bad your vision is, everyone can benefit from
natural eyesight improvement, and it usually doesn't take as
long to return to clarity as it took to get to your current
level of blurry vision. In my classes, I find that most
people experience at least a brief (temporary) improvement in
their vision within the first hour, and that many people get
lasting improvement of some degree within just a few weeks.
If you really want a rough time-line before you'll even give
the Bates Method a chance, I suggest you use the following equation:
Count on needing at
least one month for every diopter of prescription. Add
a week for every year glasses were worn. Multiply by your
levels of health and motivation (1 is best/highest, 5 is worst/lowest).
Subtract a month for every year of experience your teacher has.
If the answer is more than 12 months, you may want to increase
your motivation or change teachers... :-) Okay, so I'm
just kidding. I hope this illustrates why it is impossible
to predict the time you may need.
In Better Eyesight magazine of January 1920 Dr. Bates addressed
this question and wrote:
LONG WILL IT TAKE?"
"This question is asked so constantly by persons
who wish to be cured of imperfect sight that it seems worth
while to devote a little space to its consideration.
It is impossible, of course, to answer the question definitely.
Cure is a question of the mind, and people's minds are
patients who have worn glasses are usually harder to cure than
those who have not, elderly persons who have worn them for the
better part of a lifetime are sometimes cured as quickly as
children under twelve who have never worn them.
These cases are very rare, but they do occur."
"These peculiarities of the mind cannot be known in advance,
and therefore it is seldom possible, in any given case, to make
predictions as to the length of time that will be required for
a cure. This
much can be stated, however: that marked improvement is always
obtained in a few weeks, and that all patients obtain some benefit
at the first visit.
If there are any exceptions to this rule, they are so
rare that I do not remember them.
As more facts are accumulated, and better ways of presenting
things learned, it becomes possible to cure people more quickly.
I can cure people more quickly today than I did a year
ago, and I expect to cure them next year more quickly than I
do today. In the
last three months, seven or eight patients have been cured in
one visit, with a little additional help over the telephone.
When patients can give considerable time to the treatment they
naturally get on faster than those who cannot or will not do
this. When they
follow instructions and do not waste time in discussion, or
in carrying out theories of their own, they also get on faster.
One of the advantages that children have over adults
is that their heads are not so full of erroneous ideas, and
that they are accustomed to doing as they are told.
The chief cause of delay seems to be that people will not believe
the truth after it is demonstrated to them.
You can demonstrate to anyone in a few minutes that rest
improves the vision, but the idea that everything worth while
must be gained by effort is so deeply ingrained in the average
mind that you may not in a year be able to get it out, and so
long as the patient believes that his sight can be improved
by effort, he will make little progress."
Think about it, what do you have to loose? You can either
ignore the natural way, keep wearing glasses and fork out money
for new or stronger glasses on a regular basis, or you can give
the Bates Method a chance and learn the message that the blur
has been trying to tell you. Again, it is your
7. Do I have to completely eliminate glasses/contacts
to improve my vision?
If your prescription is more than 2 diopters you may feel that
going without glasses completely is impossible for you because
you would not be able to drive or function effectively in your
life. You may wonder if you can still improve your sight with
the Bates Method and get all the way back to clarity even if
you have to use glasses or contacts a lot. My answer is yes,
that is certainly possible. The key is to use glasses of a slightly
lower prescription. That means lenses that are between quarter
and one diopter lower than what you use for clear vision. You
will see the world with a certain amount of blur with lower
prescription lenses, yet you will not have so much blur that
you can't function. For example, someone with -4.00 glasses
might choose to use -3.50 glasses while they begin to learn
the Bates Method and release old eyestrain. That bit of blur
gives the eyes the necessary room for improvement. It is something
they will adjust to if you avoid straining against the blur
and learn to relax instead. As soon as your eyes relax enough
you will see clearly with these lower Rx lenses. That's when
you throw those out and go to the next step lower in your prescription.
That way, step by step, you can return to clarity. Completely
eliminating glasses is the faster route to clarity, yet it is
not the only way to get there. See also the question about reduced
8. How much time must I practice the Bates method each
There are many techniques that are part of the Bates method
that you may want to consciously practice each day until they
become your natural way of seeing again. Your eyes will be grateful
for any and all time you put into that.
the Bates method is not an exercise method, it does not work
well with just practicing 'half an hour per day' or whatever
time you have to spare, and then go back to strained ways of
seeing for the rest of the day.
It is a way of seeing that is meant to be used all day long,
under all circumstances, no matter what you are doing, including
watching TV or using a computer. The latter two may prove the
most challenging for keeping up the relaxed vision habits, so
you may want to limit those for a while until your vision is
good again; that may speed up your progress. In the end, the
goal is to keep your relaxed way of seeing all day long, and
thereby avoid straining your eyes for any reason.
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9. If I'm able to get to 20/20 vision will it stay
that way or is this a temporary fix?
First of all, I recommend you keep going with the Bates Method
until you reach 20/15 or better vision.
20/20 Vision is slightly blurry in my opinion. When my
own vision returned to 20/20 (after 16 years of blur and after
only 2 weeks of using the Bates Method, see
my story) I realized that this so called "100%"
acuity was not as clear as the vision I used to have in my teenage
years. It was not until I could see 20/15 (the ability
to read the 15 line from 20 feet) that I knew I had totally
regained my previous clarity. To my own surprise, my eyesight
improved even further after that, to 20/10, which Dr. Bates
said was a common level for his patients to get to.
A vision of 20/10 would mean that the ten line, which the
normal eye is not ordinarily expected to read at a greater distance
than ten feet, is seen at double that distance. This is
a standard commonly attained by persons who have practiced my
methods. (Dr. Bates, Perfect Sight
Without Glasses, page 243)
It is now ten years since I first learned the Bates method and
my vision fluctuates between 20/15 and 20/10. Most people
who improve their vision completely with the Bates Method are
able to keep their clarity. People who stop using the
method before or when they reach 20/20 vision may fall back
to some extent, because they are still dealing with blur and
therefore are still tempted to strain their eyes in order to
see better. Even so, they usually do not loose all the
progress they made, and if they return to using their eyes correctly,
their vision will continue to improve.
Personally, I do occasionally experience slightly blurry vision
but those times are rare and brief, and are just a reflection
of general stress in my life. Knowing the Bates Method
means I don't worry about the blur, and I can easily bring back
my regular clarity. You will be able to do the same when
you learn and apply the natural ways of using your eyes.
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10. But I have ....(fill in the blank), can this method help
my vision too?
The Bates Method has a track record that shows positive effect
on just about any and every vision problem, so take heart, there's
a good chance that you may benefit from it too. The functional
vision problems (such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, presbyopia,
strabismus, astigmatism) respond the fastest to relaxation,
but relief has been found even for diseases of the eye, including
cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, keratoconus, and
many others. (Please see On-Site
Solutions on Sight.) In all diseases of the eye, you
may want to ask your eye doctor to monitor your progress as
you follow your vision improvement program.
11. I had lasik surgery
and now suffer from various side effects, can you help me with
This question is becoming more common, unfortunately. People
come to me with the negative side-effects of laser surgery,
such as severe dry eyes, blurry vision, seeing halos, and extreme
discomfort. For my answer to this question, please visit the
laser surgery page.
12. Does age matter?
No, age does not matter when it comes to vision improvement.
You cannot be 'too old' for this, all you need is the
curiosity to learn and a wish to improve your sight. Any
one can benefit from relearning relaxed vision habits. Children
tend to find it easier and see results quicker, because their
eyestrain hasn't had many years of becoming habitual and their
prescription is usually not yet very strong. In fact,
if children are given the opportunity to learn good vision habits
at the first sign of blurry vision, they will likely avoid the
need for glasses entirely.
13. Why did my eyesight get worse after I started wearing glasses?
Many people have watched their eyesight become significantly
worse once they started wearing glasses. It is quite common
to increase the prescription by quarter or half a diopter every
year or two, and for some this progression goes as fast as a
full diopter per year. Why is that, if glasses supposedly are
meant to help your vision?
Most of us have good eyesight as children. Just as we naturally
learn to walk, we also learn to see and develop correct eyesight
habits. Research shows that many eyesight problems start
when vision is strained. Similar to taste, touch, or hearing
being effortless, seeing is meant to be effortless. Trying
to see inevitably makes vision worse, and that strain to see
can become a chronic and habitual strain that we are no longer
aware of. It may then manifest in blurry vision, poor
posture, chronic headaches, short attention spans, and memory
Typically after an initial strain you visit an eye doctor and
are likely to be told you need glasses. If you start using glasses
to clear the blur for you, those glasses will keep your eyes
in this state of strain. To see clearly through the glasses
you have to maintain the strain that you had when your vision
was measured in the eye doctor's office.
The lenses in your glasses each
have an 'optical center' through which you see best. However,
your eyes are not static like this optical center and often
move away from it. With each movement away from the optical
center you experience slightly blurrier vision. Your will either
strain to clear up that blur, or strain to keep your eyes still
to look through the optical center. Etiher way creates more
tension on your eye muscles and therefore worse vision and the
result is a need for stronger glasses.
Yes, glasses really can and do
make your vision worse over time.
two minute video Esther explains why glasses add to eyestrain.
By becoming aware of this
chronic strain and then releasing it, through better vision
haibts and less use (or smarter use) of glasses, your eyes and
mind can begin to relax so that clarity has a chance to return.
Contact lenses have the advantage that they move with the eyes,
therefore bypassing the optical center problem. Most contact
lens wearers endure an uncomfortable period (especially with
hard contacts) when they first begin to wear them. This so-called
"adaptation period" is the eye's attempt to reject
the foreign object. In the process of dulling that natural
response to remove the foreing object, contact lens wearers
begin to blink less and can therefore experience dry eyes and
an increase in eye infections. For many students, contact lenses
become intolerable when relearning natural vision habits.
An additional strain, whether using glasses or contacts is their
use at the wrong distance. An optometrist for over 50 years,
Dr Joseph Kennebeck, in his book Why Eyeglasses Are Harmful
For Children And Young People, stated that if a person who is
nearsighted uses compensating lenses to see up close, they put
a tremendous strain on their eyes. Similarly, the farsighted
person should never look into the distance with their reading
glasses. Unfortunately, people who wear glasses/lenses use them
at the wrong distance often.
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14. Is old age responsible for deterioration of eyesight (presbyopia)?
- There is an interesting correlation between the type of blur
a person has and their age. In industrialized countries,
the majority of people who get blur early in life become nearsighted;
the majority of people who get blur during middle age usually
become farsighted. Regardless, blurry eyesight is caused
by incorrect, strained vision habits - which can be unlearned.
Age is not the issue as long as a person maintains relaxed,
proper habits of vision. A person is not farsighted when
he/she has correct vision habits.
- If you start to use reading glasses your near vision will
likely get worse rapidly, see the question above for an explanation.
Instead of glasses, you can practice relaxed vision habits up
close and reverse the trend, regardless of your age.
- Note that there are people who have excellent eyesight - far
and near - well into their 60's, 70's, 80's and even beyond.
Dr Bates basically stated that the only time a person can have
blurred vision, near or far, is when they interfere with relaxed,
natural vision habits.
- Dr Bates eliminated his own reading glasses for his "stone
hard" presbyopia; many other eyesight improvement students
have done the same.
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15. Is blurry eyesight (myopia) hereditary?
- Disease, including eye disease, can be hereditary. However,
myopia is not due to disease and studies of Eskimos have proven
that is not hereditary; it is a functional problem. According
to Bates teacher Janet Goodrich, PhD, author of Natural
Vision Improvement, identical twin studies have proven myopia
is not genetic. If the parents have blurry eyesight, it
is likely that their children will pick up their poor vision
habits. When parents who are wearing glasses want to enroll
their children in a vision class, it is suggested that the parents
also enroll. Dr Bates found that if the parents and the
teachers wore glasses, the child would be more likely to acquire
blurred sight. Dr Bates felt that teachers who wore glasses
should not be allowed to teach school children. Children
improve their eyesight along with their parents in eyesight
- The progressive Optometric Extension Program Foundation states
in its brochure titled Rx for nearsightedness, Stress
Relieving Lenses: "Essentially, myopia appears to be
the response of the total person to some form of stress."
Most would agree that excessive stress is a major problem in
our society - including school children. Dr Bates proved
that the key to good eyesight is relaxed, natural vision habits.
- Dr Bates lowered the rate of nearsightedness from 6% to less
than 1% during an eight year Natural Eyesight Improvement program
for school children in North Dakota.
16. Does reading too much or reading fine print, doing computer
work, watching TV, etc, in dim light ruin eyesight?
No. There are people who do all of these activities and
have excellent eyesight. However, it is easy to fall into
incorrect vision habits during these activities; if a person
does, vision will blur. The key is to maintain relaxed,
correct vision habits during all activities.
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17. Are artificial corneal refractive surgeries, like LASIK
and radial keratotomy safe?
- Dr Walter Stark of Johns Hopkins stated that ads touting radial
keratotomy as "safe and effective" are less than frank.
About 1 to 3 percent of people have significant side effects.
"Every complication listed in an informed consent form"
- including the remote risk of going blind - "is something
that has actually happened." Also, "Progressive
hyperopia (farsighted vision, after the surgery) will be the
thing that condemns radial keratotomy." One magazine
reported that approximately 40% of people who had corneal refractive
eye surgery to correct nearsightedness a decade prior, had become
prematurely farsighted. Some problems people have experienced
with corneal refractive surgeries are not required to be told
to potential corneal refractive surgery patients. Anyone
considering corneal refractive surgery should read the information
provided and the links listed here.
- Infections from the incisions may be the greatest threat;
an infection can permanently scar the cornea or, worse, penetrate
and destroy the eyeball. 10% of R-K patients have fluctuating
vision - eyesight that gets worse as the day wears on.
R-K can leave patients with diminished contrast sensitivity.
Long-term consequences for the current variations of this surgery
are unknown; long-term consequences for one type of original
corneal refractive surgery were devastating. Some medical
consultants conclude you should resist the ads, especially the
mass marketing ads.
- Literature published by a prominent R-K surgeon states his
surgery is "not experimental"; it is "investigational",
since the word "experimental" is only allowed to be
used regarding animals! In addition, some advertisements
for corneal refractive surgeries falsely show a round eyeball
for myopia with a cornea that has too much curvature; the fact
is a myopic eyeball is elongated, which is due to chronically
tense oblique eye muscles.
- FBI agents, commercial pilot and Air Force pilot applicants
are not accepted if they have had R-K surgery.
- The original mental and physical strain which creates blurred
vision remains unchanged, in addition to continued serious risks
of being myopic.
- With one form of corneal refractive surgery, patients have
reported a distortion of their visual field at night when the
pupil is larger.
- Since the long-term effects are still unknown, tens of thousands
of people are basically serving as guinea humans.
- To summarize: Whatever the type of laser surgery you
are considering, it does not and can not address the underlying
cause of your visual blur, and therefore may lead to further
problems after the surgery. If you are considering laser
surgery on your eyes, please read
up on it so you can make an informed choice, and give natural
vision improvement a chance first; you may save your eyes, as
well as lots of money!
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18. Why haven't I heard of the Bates method before?
- In the years when Dr Bates did his research, the accepted
theory of accommodation (focusing ability of the eye) was defined
by Dr Helmholtz. Dr Helmholtz stated that a change in
the shape of the lens (caused by action of the ciliary muscle)
was solely responsible for accommodation. When Dr Bates
started to realize that Helmholtz was wrong, he quickly proposed
an opposing theory, which had a few flaws in it also.
Bates claimed that the lens had nothing to do with focusing
and that accommodation was done entirely by the extra-ocular
eye-muscles changing the shape of the eyeball. These days
progressive eye-doctors are venturing that the truth is more
likely to be a combination of both these theories. Unfortunately,
Dr Bates alienated himself from the established crowd with his
dogmatic attitude, and his subsequent valuable new insights
into the workings of the eyes and mind, and his numerous successes
in curing a variety of vision problems, were largely ignored.
- Some Vision Improvement Teachers have limited understanding
of the Bates Method themselves, and some go far off the Bates
track by only teaching eye-exercises. Adding effort or
exercises on top of muscles that are already strained from bad
vision habits is unlikely to bring much benefit. In fact,
vision may continue to get worse while doing eye exercises.
This of course doesn't help the general track record of the
Vision Improvement Education profession.
- A few highly effective Bates Teachers have been taken to court
in the past (Margaret Corbett, Paul Anderson), accused of practicing
medicine without a license. Corbett successfully defended
herself with the help of glowing testimonials from many of her
students, while Anderson was less fortunate and ended up having
to move to a different state to be able to continue teaching.
Some of the current teachers who understand the Bates Method
well and who have an excellent success rate, are still somewhat
wary of advertising their services, preferring to rely on word
of mouth instead.
- Our educational system teaches us to not trust our body's
signals or our common sense when we feel dis-ease, but to rely
purely on what a doctor tells us. "The doctor always knows
best". Many of us trust implicitly what a doctor
tells us, so we come to believe that there is no natural improvement
possible. Our mind then ignores the fluctuation we might
otherwise notice in our vision, dismissing any periods of better
vision as insignificant. Instead of searching out ways
of natural improvement, we expect a 'quick fix' from our doctor
and want glasses to help us see clearly now. Some
of us even ask for laser surgery, because we've been led to
believe it is safe, effective, and a great solution to our problems
of blurry vision. Few are fully aware of the many risks
involved, or of the long-term effects and possible side-effects
of this surgery. Even though soon after surgery a person
may have clear vision, they are still using strained vision
habits and may find their eyesight deteriorating again within
a few years. Then they'll have blurry vision and
- Natural vision improvement generally does not happen overnight.
It takes a fair amount of understanding, persistence, and faith
in the ability to improve for the method to work. Even
then it may take weeks, or months, and sometimes years, to regain
the clarity of vision that we once had. This means there
are relatively few people who even give the Bates Method a fair
chance. Many opt for the quick fix of corrective lenses,
simply because it is easier.
Regardless of how long it took for you to hear about the Bates
method, you have now, so I'm grateful for that. Please
read on, keep an open mind, see if it works for you, then 'pay
it forward'; pass your knowledge on to others who are searching.
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19. Why hasn't my eye doctor told me about this?
- There are ophthalmologists, behavioral optometrists
and vision trainers who do believe that vision can be improved,
and they employ a wide array of tools to help their patients
improve their eyesight. There are also ophthalmologists
and optometrists who actively support the Bates Method.
These doctors are still few and far between, and some are not
familiar enough with the Bates Method to be able to offer it
to their patients themselves. The eye doctors that I know who
do practice natural eyesight improvement techniques are listed
- Vision is primarily a mental process. Eye doctors
are trained to look at the eye, not the brain. In other words,
they miss the correct answer because they do not look in the
right place for it. The skills of eye doctors are at times
very useful and beneficial, so show your appreciation for your
doctor's knowledge. Do start asking your doctor about
natural vision improvement methods; because the more people
ask, the more likely he/she is to become interested in doing
some research of his/her own.
- Orthodox 'Modern' Medicine still teaches the doctors of ophthalmology
and optometry that vision cannot improve, that the misshapen
eyeball has 'grown' that way and that the only solution for
defective vision is corrective lenses or surgery. It can
be amazingly difficult to change the mind of a person who has
a vested interest in the status quo; the eyes cannot be open
to seeing if the mind is closed. Any closed-minded doctor
will simply dismiss any suggestion of the ability of vision
to improve naturally as 'impossible', quackery, or a hoax.
If they happen to measure the visual acuity of a person who
has improved their vision, they may even blame the previous
measurements as having been faulty. Of course eye-doctors
are not entirely to blame for their disbelief. Due to
us Bates Method teachers being far outnumbered by optometrists
and ophthalmologists, the likelihood of your doctor having seen
a patient's vision improve by the Bates Method is disappointingly
- Even if your doctor knew about the Bates Method and
understood that vision can be improved naturally, he or she
simply does not have the time to explain it to you. Eye
doctors need to see a large number of patients per day to meet
their expenses, and they simply don't have the luxury of taking
extra time to explain things to you that may seem very basic
- Most people are not educated enough to know that this
natural option exists, so they go to an eye doctor with the
expectation of getting glasses, contacts, drugs, or surgery,
which is an expectation that your doctor is trained to meet. So,
unless you ask questions, your doctor will treat you like anyone
else, and then simply move on to the next patient.
two minute video Esther explains another reason why doctors
often don't know much, if anything, about the Bates Method.
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20. Are you an eye doctor?
No, I am a teacher. I am not an ophthalmologist, an optometrist,
nor a medical doctor, therefore I do not diagnose nor prescribe,
but I do love to educate. I do not diagnose or treat or
cure any eye or lung diseases, nor do I prescribe corrective
lenses. When I make suggestions as to what I would do
if I had specific eyesight or breathing problems, it is up to
you whether or not you decide to try something similar for the
benefit of your eyes or lungs. In that regard, please
read the disclaimer.
"The Bates Method is not a branch of medicine, either
orthodox or unorthodox. It is a method of education, fundamentally
similar to the methods of education devised and successfully
used by all the teachers of psycho-physical skills for the last
several thousand years." ~ Aldous Huxley
> More about my background.
21. Where can I learn the Bates method?
Check the classes page for my current
teaching locations & fees, and also check if I'll be traveling
in your area any time soon.
If it appears there are no classes near you, feel free to contact
me to discuss the possibility of me traveling to you, or to
have a phone
consultation, or to sign up for the e-mail
If you easily learn from books, check out the book
page, ebooks page, and
download page for recommended reading.
I provide links to teachers worldwide
and additional teachers are listed on the practitioners
list of the AVE. There aren't yet as many Bates teachers
as there are optometrists, but don't be discouraged if there
is no teacher near you. If you are motivated to improve
your vision, there is a way to achieve it, and I'll be glad
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22. What is the best way of learning the Bates Method?
Most people get the best results by taking private
classes from an experienced Bates Method teacher.
An experienced teacher will observe how you are using your eyes
and can tailor the information that's taught to your personal
Do ask about the teacher's personal vision; does he/she have
very good eyesight or has he/she made significant improvement
in their own vision? Do others recommend this teacher,
and what have been their results?
If you can't take personal or group lessons from an experienced
teacher, you can either schedule a phone
consulation or take a correspondence
course tailored to your needs. Lastly, if you like
to read, then Visions of Joy's e-books
are excellent, or download free books
and articles or buy some of the other suggested vision improvement
books to start you on
your path to clear vision.
23. How can I help my child see better?
Children tend to respond faster to the relaxation techniques
of the Bates method than adults do, and they can often be helped
in a short time. For more on this topic, please read the children
24. Is this like the 'See Clearly Method'?
No. The See Clearly Method was heavily advertised and
many people have heard about it. Their program required
you to do eye exercises for the rest of your life. Not
my idea of fun. Nor does it make sense. People with
good eyesight don't do eye exercises, they just naturally use
their eyes in a relaxed way. That is what you want to
relearn, how to use your eyes in the natural relaxed way so
that the clarity comes back, effortlessly.
(note: On 2 November 2006 the Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller
ordered Vision Improvement Technologies Inc to stop all sales
of their See Clearly Method and to pay customers their money
back. "The company made dramatic claims for its product
that it could not substantiate," said the Attorney General.
I agree. Eye exercises are unlikely to improve any one's
vision, because it's not due to a lack of eye exercises that
your vision became blurry. See the next question.)
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25. Do 'eye exercises' work, or, can they keep vision from getting
The Bates method has been misunderstood by many people and is
often taught as a series of eye exercises, which is not the
way I teach it. Dr. Bates taught a natural way of seeing,
all day long, and he created major shifts in vision through
explaining how the eyes work best and then using simple techniques
that help the eyes get back to that optimum way of seeing.
Taught in this way it is a very effective method.
So the Bates method is not so much about exercises as it is
about learning to see effortlessly at all times. Some
people find that eye exercises help their sight, so I'm not
totally against exercises, I just think that these "eye
push ups" are not as efficient in improving sight.
You'll notice that people who have perfect sight tend to not
do eye exercises, they simply use their eyes without strain
all day long.
I tried eye exercises myself many years ago and found that I
didn't have the discipline to repeat the exercises every day
for however long it might have taken. I got bored with
them after just a week or two and saw no improvement at all.
Eye exercises are inefficient, and at times even counter productive
because they tend to produce more strain rather than less.
"Bates was never tired of insisting on a fact which
is now a commonplace of psychology, namely that vision is at
least fifty per cent a mental process and that improvement in
the mental state of patients suffering from defective vision
was apt to result in improvement in their seeing and ultimately,
through the effect of good functioning upon organic defect,
in their eyes. In this respect Bates Method differed radically
from the methods of orthoptics, which ignore the mental side
of seeing and seek to improve vision by the repetition of fatiguing
exercises. Being based on unsound principles, orthoptics
do little or no good. Being based on essentially sound
principles, Bates Method is often very effective." ~ Aldous
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26. How about pinhole glasses, are they helpful?
To be precise, pinhole glasses aren't glasses, they are usually
black plastic screens with small holes in them to see through.
Pinhole glasses can be helpful in bridging the gap between needing
glasses and reaching unaided clear vision. Combined with
training in natural vision improvement they can be used alongside
or instead of reduced prescription lenses, except while driving.
Pinhole glasses are better than reduced prescription glasses
in that they do not add to eyestrain, and are generally felt
to be relaxing by those who use them. Pinholes can be
used instead of sunglasses too, and are healthier for the eyes
than traditional sunglasses because they do allow some natural
light to get into the eyes. They are also affordable,
usually costing less than $30. (Check out my
low prices for pinhole glasses.) They don't work for
everyone though, and in and of themselves they do not teach
you how to use your eyes in a more relaxed way. So don't
just trade one crutch for another; learn how to improve your
27. What about sunglasses?
Sunglasses are a relatively modern invention, beginning
in the 18th century and becoming popular in the 20th century.
Before then, we all got around fine without them. Our eyes are
designed to work in bright sunshine, with the ability to narrow
down pupil size as needed. Regular use of sunglasses reduces
and eventually dulls the pupil response to bright light, causing
the wearer to become dependent on the dark glasses. Our eyes
need the full spectrum of natural sunlight for optimum health,
and the restriction of that spectrum due to glasses, contacts,
and especially sunglasses creates a deficiency in our eyes that
can lead to eye-infections.
It is best to let the eyes have plenty of sunlight, if possible
on a daily basis, so they can return to optimal health. This
does NOT mean that you stare into the sun! The Bates Method
includes a safe technique for sunning that will help you gradually
regain your tolerance for bright light. Take
some lessons to learn the right way to sun your eyes.
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28. What type of indoor lighting do you suggest?
Indoors, full spectrum
lighting is an excellent choice for your eyes.
29. I want to come to a class; when is the next available one?
Information on upcoming group classes can be found on the
classes page. To sign up for
a class, to register for the e-mail course, or to arrange a
private lesson, please contact me.
If you would like to be informed of upcoming classes, send
me an email indicating what you're interested in and where
you live and I will be happy to add you to my mailing
list. (Your contact information will only be used to send
information about Visions of Joy's classes and events, it will
never be shared with anyone else.)
30. How much does a class cost?
All charges for regular classes are listed on this website,
see the appropriate pages for private
lessons, or the email course.
For private lessons or group classes at your location the charge
depends on my travel costs and time. Please contact
me to discuss the details.
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31. I'd like to become a Bates Method teacher; where do I go
I personally am not yet ready to teach others to be a teacher,
although that will likely change in the not so distant future.
For now, you can check these teacher
32. Where do I find an eye doctor who will give me
reduced prescription glasses?
Behavioral Optometrists/Ophthalmologists are usually the most
supportive of vision improvement.
Here you'll find a list of eye doctors who I personally
know, as well as links to organizations of behavioral optometrists.
You can also order your own reduced prescription glasses online
at any of these websites
for very affordable prices!
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