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.
improve their vision faster
Because 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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...
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
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
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
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
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.
Hotson, OD, Better Eyesight magazine, December
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
reading on this topic:
Education in Our Schools and read the School
ebook: The Bates
Method View of Strabismus / Squint and On-Sight
Solutions ~ Strabismus
ebook: Fairy Tales for Better Eyesight (this is available
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
Emily Lierman's book: Stories
from the clinic
children's improved eyesight.
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.
February 2014/February 2023)