Better Eyesight

by William H. Bates, M. D. Better Eyesight is a monthly magazine published in the period July 1919 to June 1930.

Better Eyesight


September, 1923

Aids to Swinging

IT IS possible for most people to do a very simple thing—to move the finger nail of the thumb from side to side against the finger nail of one finger. This may be done when the patient is in bed or when up and walking around, in the house, in the street or in the presence of other people, and all without attracting attention. With the aid of the movement of the thumb nail which can be felt and its speed regulated one can at the same time regulate the speed of the short swing. The length of the swing can also be regulated because it can be demonstrated that when the body moves a quarter of an inch from side to side that one can move the thumb from side to side. If the long swing is too rapid it can be slowed down with the aid of the thumb nail; when it is too long it can be shortened. At times the short swing may become irregular and then it can be controlled by the movement of the thumb nail. It is very interesting to demonstrate how the short swing is always similar to the movements of the fingernail. One great ad-vantage connected with the short swing is that after a period of time of longer or shorter duration, the swing may stop or it may lengthen. It has been found that the movement of the thumb maintains the short swing of the body, the short swing of the letters or the short swing of any objects which may be seen, remembered or imagined. A letter O with a white center can only be remembered continuously with the eyes closed when it has a slow, short, continuous, regular swing and all without any effort or strain. The imagination may fail at times but the movement of the thumb can be maintained for an indefinite period after a little practice. One can more readily control the movement of the thumb instead of the eye.

Dodge It

By W. H. Bates, M.D.

WHENEVER your sight improves shift quickly to something else. Dodge your improved vision. Whenever you see things imperfectly shift your eyes quickly to something else. Dodge your imperfect sight To stare always lowers the vision. Do not stare. Dodge it: It is interesting to demonstrate the great fact that perfect sight comes so quickly that you cannot avoid seeing things perfectly. The long swing is a great benefit as long as you dodge the improvement in your sight. The short swing requires more relaxation, and to dodge the improvement in your vision is more difficult. Practice the swing which gives you the best vision, or the vision that you are able to dodge. The eye should always be sufficiently relaxed so that you will be able to dodge. One patient was wearing very strong glasses concave 15 D. S. with which he obtained vision of only 20/70. Without his glasses he was able to remember a letter or a period perfectly as long as he did not try to see anything. With the retinoscope it was demonstrated that when his memory was perfect his eyes were normal, he had no nearsightedness. As soon as he tested his sight he lost his memory, the myopia or nearsightedness returned, and his vision became very imperfect. By practicing most of the time out of doors, or in the house on ordinary objects he became able to dodge any improvement in his sight, but not enough in the beginning, or not quickly enough to avoid the fact that his vision in a moment became worse. He was unable to do much with the Snellen Test Card at first, and the temptation to stare and not dodge prevented him from shifting from one object to another, quickly enough to retain his perfect memory. He finally became able to dodge any improvement in his sight before his memory failed. At the end of a week he reported one day when he came in to see me that he was cured. I tested his ability to dodge any improvement in his sight and found it as good as that of the normal eye. He could not only dodge the improvement in his sight for ordinary objects, but had at last become able to do it when be looked at the Snellen Test Card.

I asked him, "Can you look at the bottom line at twenty feet for so short a time that you do not lose your perfect memory?"

"Yes," he answered.

"Can you read any letters on the bottom line?" "I cannot help but read them."

Another patient whose vision had been equally as poor and who had nearsightedness as well was very much benefited by the memory of a short swing of her body, about one-quarter of an inch. She could maintain this swing continuously with her eyes closed, and almost as continuously when she would look at a blank wall where there was nothing to see. When she regarded the bottom edge of the card with a perfect memory of a short body swing, the letters became perfectly black but she could not at first shift her eyes, or dodge the improvement in her sight quick enough to maintain the memory of the body swing. By practicing at all times and in all places, in the house or on the street, her ability to dodge became better. It was such a shock to her to read the bottom line at six feet without glasses, that she became panicky, and lost her mental control, failed to dodge, and lost her improved vision. Perfect dodging of improved vision can only be done perfectly by the normal eye. The normal eye does not have normal sight continuously unless it shifts or dodges what it sees at frequent intervals.

When dodging or shifting the shorter the shift the better provided one sees best where he is 1ooking and sees worse all parts not regarded. One may shift to the right of the letter when the letter is to the left of the point regarded and then shift to the left of the letter when the letter is to the right of the point regarded. Every time the eyes move to the right the letter moves to the left, every time the eyes move to the left the letter moves to the right and by doing this a few times most people become able to imagine that when the eyes move the letter appears to move in the opposite direction. This is called the Swing and when one is able to imagine a letter moving or swinging from side to side the letter is not regarded directly, the stare is prevented by the shifting or dodging and the vision is improved. When one regards a small letter of the Snellen Test Card at a distance where it can be seen perfectly and continuously, most people can demonstrate that they do not see the right hand side best all the time or the left hand best all the time, but that they are shifting from one part of the letter to another, and this may all be done unconsciously. If one, however, stares at one part of the letter continuously the vision soon becomes blurred. It is necessary to keep dodging from one part of the letter to another. Every time the eyes move one can imagine the letter moves in the opposite direction. Staring at some point of the letter continuously always blurs the sight.


When the eye sees best where it is looking it is called Central Fixation. Of course when one sees one point best it must see all other parts worse. It is a great help in accomplishing Central Fixation to ignore or dodge all other objects or letters. To see worse may require in a way greater rest of the mind because in Central Fixation a great many more things are seen worse and only one thing is seen best. It must be borne in mind that dodging may be done right or it may be done wrong like many other methods of improving the sight. Dodging is done properly when things are ignored. We do not think so much of the objects seen worse as we do of the one object which is seen best. It is impossible to have perfect sight without Central Fixation. Central Fixation is demonstrated to be a passive condition of the mind and is always accomplished without effort. It is necessary then to dodge the objects not regarded.


It is a rest to the eyes to close them and keep them closed for a few minutes or a half hour or longer. When the eyes are open the vision is usually improved for a moment or longer. The normal eye can look at a small letter of the Snellen Test Card and see it continuously but when it does so the letter is always moving and the eyes are not kept open all the time. Closing the eyes effectually dodges perfect or imperfect sight. Usually unconsciously the normal eye closes and opens quite frequently and at irregular intervals and for very short spaces of time. Most people can demonstrate that when they regard a letter that they are able to see quite clearly it is possible for them to consciously close their eyes and open them quick enough and see the letter continuously. This is called Blinking and it is only another name for dodging. Dodging what? Dodging the tendency to look steadily at things all the time. All the methods which have been recommended for the improvement of the vision, central fixation, palming, swinging, blinking can all be grouped under the one word—dodging.

One of the characters in "Oliver Twist," by Charles Dickens, was called the "Artful Dodger." Persons with good sight may not be artful but they certainly are good dodgers.

Stories from the Clinic

By Emily C. Lierman


A COLORED mammy came to our clinic complaining of great pain in the back of her eyes. She had visited a doctor before she heard of Dr. Bates, and was told that her eye trouble came from indigestion and eating wrong food. After trying a diet for six months which was prescribed for her, with the result that the pain in her eyes still continued, she came to us with very little hope of being cured. After I had taken her record, name, and age which she said was 32, address and where she was born, I asked her if she had ever worn glasses.

"No mam," said she,"And you can never make me wear them. I hate them, I do."

She went off on a blue streak relating her family history.

"You know, mam, my mother had only one bad habit until she died, and thank the Lord it wasn't wearing glasses. She lived a good simple life, but my, how she did love her corn-cob pipe. But she never committed the sin of wearing glasses."

Well, this was a new one on me. I have been treating many colored patients for eye strain since my work began with Dr. Bates, but this was the first one who thought that wearing glasses was committing a sin. Most of her kind think it adds to their appearance to wear glasses and many times Doctor was asked to prescribe plain window glass so that they could wear glasses.

I tested mammy's sight with the test card which was 10/30 with each eye. I moved the card only one foot further away and this caused such a strain that she could only see the 40 line. Then I told her to palm and asked her to describe one of the letters she saw on the card. As she did not answer me right off I thought she had not heard me so I repeated it. She answered, "Do you know mam, for a minute I couldn't remember a single letter." I explained to her that such was often the case, imperfect sight, imperfect memory. I pointed to the letter E and asked her to close her eyes and describe it. This she did by saying it had a straight line at the top, also to the left and bottom and that the right side was open. Before mammy opened her eyes I moved the card still further away, which was now fifteen feet to be exact. Mammy had been palming about five minutes, still remembering the letter E of the forty line of letters. I stood beside the card with my finger pointing to the first letter next to the bottom line, called the fifteen line. Then I said, "Before you open your eyes please remember that you must not try too hard to see the letter I am pointing at. If you do not see the letter immediately, do not worry about your failure to do so but close your eyes again and remember your E for a few minutes." Mammy opened her eyes and said the letter I was pointing at was an R, which was correct. We were both very happy at the result but I made her close her eyes again and remember the R better than she saw it. In less than five minutes she stopped palming and read all of the fifteen line correctly. I produced another card which she had not seen, and she was able to read the same line of letters as well. This meant that she had normal vision. Mammy thought she was all cured but I had my doubts as to her being able to read fine print. When I held one of Doctor's diamond type cards six inches from her eyes, one would have thought that I had intended to strike her, for she drew back her head suddenly as the little card came in view. She shook her head sadly and said, "I shall never be able to read that fine print for you. That is too much to ask."

I answered, smiling at her, "No, you don't need to read it for me, read it for yourself."

She said she was willing if I would show her how to do it. I told her to move the little card slowly from side to side flashing the white spaces between the lines of letters without trying to read. She kept this up for ten minutes or a little longer and then she screamed as the letters began to clear up and before Mammy left the Clinic she read the seven truths of normal sight.

Cataract Cure

By Herbert Parrish

Rector of Christ Church, New Brunswick, N. J.

AN aged member of my congregation, nearly eighty, who had been accustomed to read the Bible every day of her life, and who could also read the newspaper and thread needles and sew, suddenly lost her sight early in February. She became increasingly blind and by the end of March was unable to do any reading whatever or to sew. Since there was little else that she could do, life seemed to have gone out for her, into darkness, and she was greatly distressed.

In April her daughter took her to one of the best eye specialists in this vicinity who made an examination of her eyes, said that nothing could be done at that time, charged her five dollars for the examination, and handed the daughter a slip of paper as she left the office. The daughter supposed that the paper was a receipt for the five dollars, but on reaching home and opening the paper she found that it contained a single word, "Cataract." The Doctor evidently hesitated to distress the old lady by telling her directly what was the matter. She had gone blind from cataracts.

Shortly after I visited the old lady at her home in order to administer the Sacrament. After the service I told her about the methods Dr. Bates used to cure cataract and I suggested that she should try palming her eyes three times a day and swinging. This she did very faithfully and before the end of the month she became able to read the larger print of the newspapers. Gradually she regained her sight and in the course of a month or two was able to resume her practice of reading the Bible daily and the ordinary print of the newspaper. She also was able again to thread needles and to sew.

She continues the palming and swinging. Her eyes have cleared up and are bright.

What is the Monetary Value of Your Eyes

By Minnie E, Marvin

DID you ever stop to think of just what cash value vou would place upon your eyes? Would you take a thousand or a hundred thousand dollars for your sight? To the average person this is a great deal of money. One feels that with a hundred thousand dollars one could satisfy most any ambition, be absolutely independent; but would you, without your sight?

To the artist, this money would mean a finished education among the old masters of Europe; to the physician it would mean the power enabling him to experiment along the particular lines of his endeavor for the benefit of mankind, and to the mother it would mean luxuries for her babies. But, after all, without sight these things are negligible. The greatest joy comes to the artist in beholding his finished product, and noting the glances of admiration cast upon it by an appreciative throng. The physician is rewarded by the idolatrous and grateful smiles of his patient, whom he has grasped from death's door; and is there anything more wonderful to a mother than to notice the new little charms manifested each day by her young offspring?

No, truly, there is no greater gift than sight; still some thoughtless people hold it lightly. They abuse their eyes in every conceivable way, and then, to cap the climax, cover them with a pair of glasses, and expect them to get well. A great many people spend more time hunting bargains in eyeglasses, and in getting the kind of rims adapted to their particular style of beauty, than it would take to cure their eyes by following the method outlined along the lines of common sense.

In Dr. Bates' book, Perfect Sight Without Glasses [link], is the material explained in a simple, natural way whereby every person having any form of defective vision can positively cure himself. All that is needed is a little backbone. Leave off the glasses. Allow your eyes to function naturally and see how they enjoy it. A baseball pitcher wouldn't think of binding up his pitching arm with splints weeks before a game is scheduled, would he? No, indeed; the results would certainly be disastrous to him. Neither would a marathon runner neglect his daily sprints that keep him in trim. The same principle applies to the eyes. When glasses are resorted to, the natural functioning powers of the eyes are curtailed, and as a matter of course become gradually weakened.

There has been a great deal of talk recently about some sort of organization which calls itself the Eyesight Conservation League. This League has been distributing pamphlets and circulars anonymously throughout the schools, byways and highways of the United States. The object of this League is to prescribe glasses. The reports of their representatives, submitted to headquarters at regular intervals, are merely records of the number of glasses prescribed. No mention is made of the number of children benefited.

According to their ideas, their object has been accomplished when the glasses are placed on the children, when as a matter of fact we all know that the sight will never become normal just so long as the glasses are worn. How often do you hear a person say, "Oh, my eyes are perfectly normal. Now, you see, I wore glasses for such and such a time, and the defect has been entirely cured." Have you ever heard it? I never have, and I doubt if anyone else has. Glasses never have cured defective vision.

We hope all our Better Eyesight League members and friends who know of Dr. Bates' method of curing defective sight will do all they can to put a stop to this sort of propaganda for "sight conservation." It conserves it, true enough; preserves it, might be the better word—preserves it in such a way that the normal vision is never manifested, so long as the glasses are worn.

A Talk to the League

By Antoinette A. Saunders

The following is an extract taken from a talk given by Miss Saunders before the members of the Better Eyesight League at the July Meeting, and deserves special mention.

PLAIN common sense and statistics tell us that glasses have not, cannot, and never will cure errors of refraction; if they could people would wear them for a short while only, and discard them when cured. Have you ever seen a person doing so? We all know that generally the strength of the artificial lenses must be steadily increased, and in many cases it leads to cataract and blindness—and there are still people who believe that they are saving their eyesight by wearing glasses. When, oh when, will they wake up?

I dare say that errors of refraction is an imaginary disease. Dr. Bates can tell you how many patients fitted with plain glasses and even with wrong lenses, are coming to his office daily. How can they see through these ill-fitted lenses?—autosuggestion. Most of these people claim that glasses are a great comfort and they say they cannot see without them—but sometimes we catch them forgetting themselves, their eyes and glasses, and find they can read with perfect vision, an interesting article in the paper or a lettre d'amour just received, until they remember their glasses, and presto the perfect vision is gone. Where has it gone to? You see this is the result of autosuggestion when used in a negative way.

I have suffered long enough to know what I am talking about. From birth up I was troubled with catarrh. My eyes were frequently bloodshot, the lids swollen, inflamed and sore from a discharge. There also was a film over my eyes so that I saw everything as through a cloud. I had worn glasses for twenty-eight years. Some I lost, others I gave away to very poor people believing, at that time, that I saved somebody's eyesight. All of them were fitted by the best eye specialists here and abroad. They told me that it must be entirely my fault if I could not see with them as they were fitted most accurately and I should try to get used to them. Well, I tried hard for 28 years, but day by day in every way I got worse and worse. I was afraid to cross a street because I ran right into moving vehicles: I fell not only up and downstairs, but also over imaginary objects and was the joke of the day for my friends and acquaintances. One day I crossed Fifth Avenue at 24th Street and ran into a rope which hit me on the nose and broke the left lens. When I looked around to find out the cause of the trouble I saw the rope with my naked eye, but could not see it with my right eye, which was still covered with the lens. Then I woke up. I refused to wear glasses on the street, although the doctor warned me, prophesying that I surely would meet with a terrible accident. But after all the experience I had had with my collection of glasses I took the responsibility on my own shoulders and stopped wearing them on the street. At work I had to use them until I met Dr. Bates, who not only improved my vision rapidly, but also cured in a couple of minutes a very severe headache of many years standing.

Today I can read fine print and some of the photographic reproduction print by good daylight. I consider myself cured—at least from the habit of wearing glasses.

I also wish to mention that my health in general has improved immensely at the same time. I have no nervous breakdowns any more. I forget what fatigue is although I am working strenuously from early morning till midnight and longer The rheumatism which accompanied me for 35 years has vanished completely. I must admit this has one drawback, namely—I lost the ability of forecasting the weather.

In conclusion I will try to answer two questions which I know are on your mind. First:—How did I improve my sight?—simply by following Dr. Bates' personal instructions and also practicing the various exercises outlined in his book. The long swing was most helpful to me.

Second:—How did I overcome the difficulties of working without glasses before my vision was improved?—I watched myself carefully, found out the particular way I used to strain and avoided that particular way of staring and straining. I tried to relax as well as I could and to stay relaxed during work. I gave full attention to my work and forgot my eyes. I do not ask you to kid yourselves by repeating a certain number of times, "I can see, I can see," and actually fail to see; but it is a fact whenever I thought I could see and was sure about it, I always did so without a single exception and whenever I was uncertain and thought "maybe I can see and maybe I cannot see," sure enough I could not see a single letter of any size and at any distance. So I advise you to think, expect, remember and imagine perfect vision and you shall have it at that very moment you need it. We all know that our physical body is not made of one big piece of something. It consists of many trillions of tiny little cells, each tiny little cell has its own tiny little brain, it knows its work and is only too willing to perform its duty if we do not interfere with it. To illustrate this statement I will tell you about an experiment which was made in one of our many laboratories.

A scientist took one single eye-cell of a chick's embryo and transplanted it to the back of the neck. The chick was hatched out with three perfect eyes. Two in its normal place and the third on the back of its neck. Now, if a chick's eye-cell knows enough and has the power to multiply so rapidly to make up for lost time and to build up a perfect eye, although out of its normal place, then I should think we need not worry about our eyes and how they can see without glasses. The human eye must be at least just as intelligent as a chick's eye, and if so then give your eyes a chance. Have faith and confidence in yourself and in your eyes.



ALTHOUGH the Clinic at the Harlem Hospital has been discontinued, the records of all the interesting and peculiar cases have been kept.

Doctor Bates and Mrs. Lierman visited the Clinic three days a week, the patients averaging fifty or more a day. Mrs. Lierman was always able to reach the human side of these patients, some of them in agony with various diseases of the eye, some blind with Cataract, and others terribly uncomfortable with minor defects. A brief synopsis of all these cases was kept, and we have pleasure in announcing that each issue of the Magazine will contain one of Mrs. Lierman's Stories for some time to come, selected from an unlimited amount of material.


READ the Minutes of the July Meeting of the League, and be sorry if you did not attend! So many different questions arise, are discussed and settled, and so many points in doubt, cleared up, that it is certainly to the members' advantage to attend. It's worth while!

The Second Tuesday falls on the 11th, and we would like to see everybody at the September Meeting.

There will be a Grand Reunion of all the vacationists
at 383 Madison Avenue
8 o'Clock


WE are taking orders for the Bound Copies of the Magazine, which is now at press. The volume contains every number from July, 1922, to June, 1923. It is attractively bound in limp leather, similar to that of the book, and is excellent for reference when used in conjunction with PERFECT SIGHT WITHOUT GLASSES.

Send for yours—Price $4.25.

Minutes of the Better Eyesight League

THE speaker scheduled for the evening was Mrs. Gordon, a patient of Doctor Ruiz Arnau. Being troubled with Presbyopia, and severe headaches. Dr. Arnau came to Dr. Bates for relief. Upon being cured, he took the course of treatment under Dr. Bates and is practicing this method with great success. The following reports of some of his patients were received with interest:

Mrs. Gordon could do nothing without her glasses, which she wore for three years. However, as they failed to improve either her vision or her sick headaches, she visited Dr. Arnau, whom, she heard, was using Dr. Bates' method. At the end of three weeks she was amazed to discover that she could not only leave off her glasses without the least discomfort, but her headaches had disappeared. She can now sew, read, thread needles and continue her work of teaching with ease. Mrs. Gordon explained that if she was cured in three weeks, children ought to make rapid progress and be cured permanently in less time.

The other patients who cited their experience with Dr. Bates' method, under Dr. Arnau, were two little girls, and a boy. The first child to speak said she had a very trying time with the doctor at school. He prescribed glasses for her, but when her parents saw she was no better they took her to Doctor Arnau. He immediately removed her glasses, and had her palm for a short time in his office. When he re-examined her eyes, he saw immediate improvement. The parents were greatly gratified, and sent her back to school without her glasses. However, the teacher was greatly perturbed at this breach of ancient custom, and requested the child to either resume the glasses or remain away from school entirely. The little one went home, and continued the treatment under Dr. Arnau for one week. At the end of that time she was pronounced cured by him, and returned to school without her glasses. She was again sent to the school doctor and examined. When he saw that she could read to the bottom line without discomfort, he told her to go back to her class, and the subject was dropped.

The next little girl was troubled with Myopia. While she could read with an effort, she could not see the little words, such as it, as an, etc. Dr. Arnau taught her how to think, see and remember black, by flashing the white spaces, and remembering the little period, she was able to imagine the little words, until they cleared up, and she could actually see them. In a few weeks' time she could read without an effort, and if she did revert to the unconscious strain, she received immediate relief and relaxation by remembering the black period.

The young man of twelve was next to tell of his experience. He explained that the swing helped him, and he demonstrated the various swings, shifts, including the movement of the eyes from left to right to make the objects swing in a slow, easy motion.

Another member gave a brief history of her case, and concluded by saying she receives the greatest benefit from reading the test card every night, before retiring. She has it always in her room, and takes it with her on her vacation.

It is a curious feature of the preceding reports that each speaker claimed a different exercise helped him. The memory of black helps some most, others like the palming, and still others become nervous when palming, and like the different swings. By trying each one, and noting the results obtained, the most beneficial can be adapted to each individual case.

The Question Mark

    Newark, N. J,
Question—Please state in detail why fine print is a benefit.    L. G.

Answer—Send for detailed explanation. It requires more of an effort to accommodate the eye to large type than to small.

    Wilmington, Del.
Question—Is it really possible to cure oneself by reading the book, PERFECT SIGHT WITHOUT GLASSES [link]?    ANNA S.T.

Answer—Yes. Follow the instructions as outlined.

    New York City.
Question—Have had good results with Dr. Bates' book, but as yet cannot leave off my glasses with comfort. May I resume them when I do close work?    MRS. CLARKE.

Answer—No medicine is easy. Put up with the discomfort. Learn how to diminish and abolish this day by day. Leave off your glasses.

    East Orange, N. J.
Question—My husband has a fully developed Cataract. Can this be removed by Dr. Bates' method without operation?    MARY S.


    Albany, N. Y.
Question—If fine type is beneficial, why do they print Children's school books in large type?    JOHN H.—Teacher.

Answer—For the same reason that people wear glasses —Ignorance of the proper way.

    Stamford, Conn.
Question—Trying to make things move gives me a headache. Palming gives me more relief. Why?    EAS.

Answer—Making an effort to do a thing won't help you. When you are walking the street, the street should go in the opposite direction without effort on your part. Some people get more relief from palming, while swinging helps others best.

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