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

Improve your Eye-Q
~ Read the FAQs!

holy smileyDo 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 your 'Eye-Q'.
If your questions are not answered here, e-mail me; I usually reply within a few days.

Common Questions on Eyesight Improvement and the Bates Method:
1.  Can eyesight improve naturally?
2.  What's the principle behind natural vision improvement?
3.  Are there any side effects to the Bates Method?
4.  Where is the proof that vision can improve?
5.  How about scientific proof?
6a.  How long will it take - to return to clear vision?
6b.  How long will it take - to learn the Bates Method?
7.  Do I have to completely eliminate glasses/contacts to improve my vision?
8.  How much time must I practice the Bates method each day?
9.  If I'm able to get to 20/20 vision will it stay that way or is this a temporary fix?
10a.  But I have ....(fill in the blank), can this method help my vision too?
10b. Have you ever had anyone with ...(my exact condition)... who improved to clarity?
11.  I had lasik surgery and now suffer from various side effects, can you help me with that?
12.a.  Does age matter?
12.b.  What ages do you work with?
13.  Why did my eyesight get worse after I started wearing glasses?
14.  Is old age responsible for deterioration of eyesight (presbyopia)?
15.  Is blurry eyesight (myopia) hereditary?
16.  Does reading too much or reading fine print, doing computer work, watching TV, etc, in dim light ruin eyesight?

17.  Are artificial corneal refractive surgeries, like LASIK and radial keratotomy safe?
18.  Why haven't I heard of the Bates method before?
19.  Why hasn't my eye doctor told me about this?
20.  How do I respond to my eye doctor's skepticism about the Bates Method?
21.  What about the claims on Wikipedia about the Bates Method?
22.  Where do I find an eye doctor who will give me reduced prescription glasses?
23.  Are you an eye doctor?
24.  Where can I learn the Bates method? / Is there a teacher near me?
25.  What is the best way of learning the Bates Method?
26.  How can I help my child see better?
27.  Is this like the 'See Clearly Method'?
28.  What about the 'Restore My Vision Today' method?
29.  Do 'eye exercises' work, or, can they keep vision from getting worse?
30.  How about pinhole glasses, are they helpful?
31.  What about sunglasses?
32.  What type of indoor lighting do you suggest?
33.  I want to come to a class; when is the next available one?
34.  How much does a class cost?
35.  How do I make an appointment for a private lesson?
36.  How do I make a payment to you?
37.  I'd like to become a Bates Method teacher; where do I go for training? 

Change How You See ~ Not How You Look

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! Read this book for advice: Optimal Eyesight

- 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 Eyesight magazines.

- 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..."

- The entire collection of 30 medical articles published by Dr. Bates is available here.

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6a. 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 to everyone, except perhaps this response from Dr. Bates himself: "Patients often ask how long it takes to be cured. The answer is that it takes only as long as it takes to relax." .
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:
"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 different.  While 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 lose?  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 choice.

6b. How long does it take to learn the Bates Method?
In general, it takes me 4 to 5 hours to teach you what you need to know to improve your own vision. Some people need a few hours more, some are ready with less, but most need 4 to 5 hours to understand what is required to let go of their eyestrain and how to let clarity return to their vision.

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/lenses 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 prescription glasses.

8. How much time must I practice the Bates method each day?
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.

However, 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 lose 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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10a. 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 Sigh.)  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.

10b. Have you ever had anyone with ...(my exact condition)... who improved to clarity?

Maybe I have, maybe I have not. I'm not inclined to dig through 20+ years of archives to find the one case that comes closest to your exact problem. Besides which, you are unique, you have unique issues that apply just to you. What worked for someone else with a similar visual condition does not necessarily work for you. Whether the Bates Method works for you is something you only find out for sure once you give it a fair chance to work for you. If you keep looking for external proof first, you are wasting valuable time that could have been spent quickly gaining personal proof, which is far more valuable.

The Bates Method consists of a large variety of relaxation techniques; one of which may be just what you needed, yet it may not do anything for your neighbor with 'the exact same condition' who instead benefits more from another part of the method. Stop comparing your eyes to others and start to learn what needs to be done to improve your vision. I do not give out personal information of students who gained clear vision. Look at the testimonial page for those that gave me permission to share their story.

And here is Dr. Bates' own reply to this question: "In my work I take particular pains to make the patient understand that I do not expect or guarantee a cure in any case. The most I say to them is 'Yes, I have cured people much worse than you, but that is no guarantee that I can give you the slightest benefit.' This seems to eliminate a certain amount of subconscious antagonism on the part of the patient, who may consciously say that he desires to be cured, but deep down in his heart feels unconsciously, 'I don't believe you can do it with my help, and I am quite sure you can't do it if I oppose you.' "

I had lasik surgery and now suffer from various side effects, can you help me with that?
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.a. 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.

12.b. What ages do you work with?
Many of my students are adults, with the over-40s being the most common age-group that I work with. About 20-25% of my students are under 18, and about half of those are between 6 and 12 years young.

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 problems. 

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.

In this 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. Get this book: Read Without Glasses at Any Age. (It starts with large print!)

- 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 Inuit people in Alaska 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 improvement classes.

- 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 compromised eye-health.

- 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. 

- Bates Method teachers are significantly outnumbered by eye doctors. The odds of seeing a Bates Method teacher listed in your local phone book, next to the dozens of eye doctors that you might find in there, are less than 1000 to 1.

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, get a few books, 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 here.

-  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 low. 

-  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 office expenses, and they simply don't have the luxury of taking extra time to explain things to you that may seem very basic to them.  

-  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.

In this two minute video Esther explains another reason why doctors often don't know much, if anything, about the Bates Method.

20. How do I respond to my eye doctor's skepticism about the Bates Method?
If your eye doctor is skeptical and dismisses the Bates Method as 'quackery', you might ask your doctor: "What percentage of your patients return to clarity while using the lenses you prescribe?"
Research shows that eyesight typically worsens by 0.2 to 1 Diopter per year when lenses are used all day. In contrast, I estimate that at least 90% of my students have measurable improvement in their visual acuity in the first session of working with me and they generally continue to improve their vision from then on; no longer needing the prescription they came in with. By switching to the Bates Method, you have little to lose and a lot to gain!

21. What about the claims on Wikipedia about the Bates Method?
You seriously still trust that site??? Sorry, I absolutely don't. They publish lies, slander and deliberate misinformation. If a true expert tries to correct Wikipedia's blatant errors, the corrections get deleted within minutes. I've tried, and gave up on them many years ago; it's a complete waste of my time. Some people can't even correct mistakes on the Wikipedia page about themselves! If you trust Wikipedia's propoganda, good luck. That's my honest opinion. Regarding the Bates Method on their misinformation page, their very first line calls the Bates Method "ineffective and potentially dangerous" neither of which is true. It's very effective and has no negative side-effects at all, which regular ophthalmologists and optometrists can't claim. Notice all the fear-mongering in the first paragraph. They plainly want to scare you out of ever exploring this natural option for your eyes. Why? Because if everyone did and checked it out and noticed how easy it is to see better without glasses/contacts/surgery, it would literally open their eyes to all the medical corruption that's currently happening! Can't have that; would be bad for business...
My advice - make up your own mind. Learn to release eyestrain and see for yourself what happens to your sight. Then you'll know who to trust and what to believe.

22.  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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23. Are you an eye doctor?
No, I simply teach you how you can reduce your eyestrain.  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.

24. 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 Video consultation, or sign up for the video course
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 to help.

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25. 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 needs. 
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 schedule an online video consulation.  Lastly, if you like to read, then Visions of Joy's books and 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. 

26. 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 page.

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27. 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 question 29.

28. What about the "Restore My Vision Today" method?

In August 2014 various people sent me links to this 'new' method which claims to guarantee a return to 20/20 vision in two weeks... Hmmm. From a colleague I heard that these wonderful people who make this unusual promise are using my colleague's free videos on the Bates method and they are selling them as part of this package, without my colleague's permission... That says enough about their integrity. You can make up your own mind, but to me this spells SCAM and it will likely suffer the same fate as the See Clearly Method did in 2006.

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29. Do 'eye exercises' work, or, can they keep vision from getting worse?

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 couple of weeks 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.  
Read more about the Bates Method versus Eye Exercises.

"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 Huxley

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30. 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.  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 vision naturally!

This short video explains the pinhole effect:

31. 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 or read chapter 15 in Optimal Eyesight.

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32. What type of indoor lighting do you suggest?
Indoors during the day, full spectrum lighting is an excellent choice for your eyes. Incandescents or halogen are good for evening lighting.

33. 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 sign up for the video course or to arrange a private lesson, please contact me.  If you would like to be informed of upcoming classes, join 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.)

34. How much does a class cost?

All charges for regular classes are listed on this website, see the appropriate pages for private lessons, online consultations, group classes, and video 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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35. How do I make an appointment for a private lesson?
The best way is to first email me so I can send you the questionnaire. When you return your completed questionnaire I will contact you to find a suitable time for your first appointment.

36. How do I make a payment to you?
Payment for private or group classes can be made in person by cash or US-based check. For other payment options please go to the donation page, where you will find instructions for various electronic payment methods.

37. I'd like to become a Bates Method teacher; where do I go for training?

Please check these teacher training opportunities.

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