by William H. Bates, M. D. Better Eyesight is a monthly magazine published in the period July 1919 to June 1930.
A MONTHLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED TO THE PREVENTION AND CURE OF IMPERFECT SIGHT WITHOUT GLASSES
I. That the smaller the object regarded, the easier it is to remember. One can, with time and trouble, become able to remember all the words of one page of a book. It is easier to remember one word than all the words of a page. It is still easier to remember one letter of a word better than all the letters. Regard a capital letter. Demonstrate that it is easier to see or remember the top of the letter best, and the bottom of it less clearly than to remember the top and bottom perfectly and simultaneously. Now took directly at the upper right hand corner and imagine one-fourth of the letter best. Then cover the remaining three-quarters of the letter with a piece of paper. It is possible to look directly at the exposed part of the letter and imagine half of it best. Cover the part that is not seen distinctly, and demonstrate that half of the exposed part of the letter can be seen or imagined best, while the rest of it is not seen so clearly. With the aid of the screen, an area as small as an ordinary period, may finally be imagined. Demonstrate that the imagination of a perfectly black small period, forming part of a small letter at fifteen feet, enables one to distinguish that letter.
II. That, with the eyes closed, a small black period can be imagined blacker than one three inches in diameter. If this fact cannot be readily demonstrated with the eyes closed:
1. Stand close to a wall of a room, three feet or less, and regard a small black spot on the wall six feet from the floor. Note that you cannot see a small black spot near the bottom of the wall at the some time.
2. Place your hand on the wall six feet from the floor, and note that you cannot see your hand clearly when you look at the bottom of the wall.
By W. H. Bates, M.D.
MYOPIA has been called near-sightedness, because the vision is usually very good for objects which are seen at a near point, while very dim or blurred for objects at ten feet or farther. In myopia, the eyeball is elongated. The normal eye, when reading fine print, becomes elongated, or myopic, during the time that the eye is focused for reading.
Acute myopia: When myopia is acquired, it is called acute myopia in the early stages. When treated at this time, it is readily curable without glasses. The practice of prescribing glasses in these cases, leads to a permanent use of them.
Progressive. myopia: In these cases, the myopia increases quite rapidly, and may be accompanied by much discomfort, pain, fatigue, and loss of vision. In advanced cases, many become unable to see as well with very strong glasses as they can without them.
Complicated myopia: Many authorities have stated that the myopic eye is usually a diseased eye. It may be complicated with cataract or other eye diseases, or it may not. The exceptions are so numerous, that it can usually be demonstrated that diseases of the eye have nothing whatever to do with the cause of uncomplicated myopia.
Myopia usually occurs at about twelve years of age. It is rarely congenital. Some become myopic at the age of four, fifteen, seventy, or any age, earlier or later. Some children with normal vision may go through life without becoming myopic. Risley, after a careful study of the eyes of school children, believed that myopia was only acquired by children with astigmatism or with hypermetropia (far-sightedness). At one time, statistics were quoted that children living in large cities had myopia to a greater extent than those who lived in the country. I believe statistics are uncertain, because one can generally obtain statistics which prove the contrary.
It is a popular belief that habitual use of the eyes for reading, sewing, or for any other use at a near point, promotes the increase of myopia. Simultaneous retinoscopy always demonstrates that near use of the eyes—even under a strain in a poor light—instead of producing myopia, always lessens it or corrects it altogether.
Another theory, that individuals who use their eyes repeatedly for distant vision suffer less from myopia, has also been disproved by simultaneous retinoscopy. A strain to see at the distance always produces myopia. During the late war, it was unusual to find sailors or aviators with normal vision, or normal eyes without eye-strain. In order to obtain recruits for these branches of the service, because of the general prevalence of myopia, the standard of the requirements for admission had to be repeatedly lowered.
Myopia is always accompanied by a strained look of the eyes, when regarding objects. Partly closing the eyelids, a form of squinting, is often observed in myopia. When the sight is imperfect, this practice may improve distant vision for a few seconds; but at a near point
when the sight is good, about five inches from the face, squinting always lowers the vision, especially when one eye is covered.
Staring can always be demonstrated to be the principal cause, if not the only cause of myopia. There are no exceptions. We may say: "It is a truth that the cause of myopia is the stare." Contributing causes are numerous. Any child with normal eyes and normal sight, will at once become temporarily myopic if you scold him severely. Teachers with normal sight and normal eyes are usually relaxed, and do not stare or strain. On the other hand, teachers who west glasses for myopia, are under a strain. This strain is contagious, and children under their care are more apt to acquire myopia than those who are under the cue of teachers with normal eyes and normal sight.
The cause suggests the cure. Since the stare or strain produces myopia, the cure would naturally be rest or relaxation. This is obtained by palming, swaying, and improving the memory and imagination.
1. Palming & Close yaw eyes and rest them for at least half an hour. Some receive more relaxation by covering the closed eyelids with the palm of one or both hands. thus excluding all light. By thinking of pleasant things, rest your mind as well as your eyes. Some mild cases have been cured, at fast temporarily, and later more continuously by faithfully following this practice.
2. Swaying & Stand with the feet about one foot apart, facing the Snellen test card at a distance of fifteen feet. Sway from side to side, while moving the head and eyes in the same direction. It is a benefit to the sight to alternately open and close the eyes while swaying slowly, easily, and continuously a short distance from side to side. It is a help to imagine the Snellen test card, or one or more letters on the card, to be moving opposite to the movement of the body, head, and eyes. If the card, or a letter of the card, does not appear to move, the vision soon becomes imperfect.
While swaying from side to side, and observing that one or more letters appear to move in the opposite direction, it is possible for one with normal vision to imagine that the letters are seen with central fixation. By this is meant, seeing best the point regarded, and other points not so clearly. With normal sight, the point regarded shifts constantly. The vision is always imperfect if the letters are not seen, one part best. When regarding the letter "C," notice that when you look at the top of it, you see that part best, and the rest not so clearly. Then, notice that when you look at the bottom of the letter, you see that part best, and the top not so clearly. This can be done with any object. When regarding a chair, notice that when you look at the back of it, you see the back more clearly than the rest of the chair. Then, when you look at the legs, they are seen more clearly than the back is seen.
When practiced properly, without effort, the sway enables one to imagine each of the smaller letters to be as black as the largest letter on the card. The white part of all letters is also imagined to be whiter than other parts of the test card, where there are no letters.
3. Memory and Imagination: Improving the memory and imagination, is one of the quickest methods of curing myopia. This can be done by practicing with two Snellen test cards. Place one on the wall of the room, and hold the other close enough to the eyes to enable you to read the smallest letters with good or perfect sight. Now, step back one inch from the card on the wall, and read one of the smallest letters on the card in your hand. Then quickly close your eyes for one second, and remember the letter as-well as you have seen it. Open your eyes and flash the same letter on the wall-card. Quickly close your eyes, whether there is an improvement in the vision or not, in order to avoid the stare or strain. Alternate, until the imagination of a letter on the wall-card at seven inches, becomes equal to the vision of the same letter on the hand-card at six inches. When this is accomplished, increase the distance to eight inches from;the wall-card. When the known letter can be imagined on the wall-card at eight inches for a second or fees, in flashes, as well as it can be seen at six inches for a longer period of time, increase the distance to nine or ten inches. Continue to increase the distance by gradually stepping back, as long as you can flesh the known letter on the wall-card, as well as, you can see it at six inches on the hand-card. When your ability to imagine or flash a known letter fails at five feet or farther, it is usually best to move closer,—close enough to flash successfully without effort.
One patient with myopia of 7.00 D. S., vision 4/200, obtained more benefit from "flashing" than from any other method. In half an hour, she became able to flesh the letters at fifteen feet, as well as she could see them at six inches. When this was accomplished; her myopia disappeared, and she read a strange card 'with normal vision at fifteen feet, almost as well as she could see it at six inches.
In order to prevent, as well as to cure myopia, it is necessary that you use your eyes correctly all day long.
1. Blink frequently, just as the normal eye does. Staring is a strain, and always lowers the vision.
2. Shift constantly from one point to another, seeing best the part you are looking at, and other parts not so clearly.
3. All day long, your head and eyes are moving. It is important that you notice stationary objects to be moving in the opposite direction to the movenknt of your head and eyes. When you walk around the room or on the street, notice that the floor or pavement appears to come toward you, while objects on either side of you, appear to move in the opposite direction to the movement of your body.
4. Practice daily with the Snellen test card for five minutes or longer.
Shifting, blinking, and imagining stationary objects to be moving, can be practiced at all times and in all places, . no matter what you may be doing.
Stories from the Clinic
No. 77: MYOPIA
By Emily C. Lierman
MANY times I have been called upon to answer the question: "How do you treat or cure myopic cases7" This has been asked not only by laymen, but also by physicians. It is not an easy question to answer, because myopic cases vary in their response to treatment, and each requires an individual application of the method. Some patients with a high degree of myopia improve or recover in a reasonable length of time, while others with only a slight degree become despondent, because it takes so long to be cured. These patients fail, because they are unable to retrain from making an effort to see. Myopic eases are cured quickly when they do exactly as they we told, instead of strain-ing their eyes by trying to see.
Progressive myopia is generally believed to be incurable, and to my knowledge there is no method of benefiting or curing it other than the Sates method.
A man, seventy years of age, called on me recently to learn what he could about the method. He said that he had been myopic since birth. Several eye-specialists had told him that he could never be cured. Opticians had also told him the same thing. His eyeglasses were changed every two or three years, and each time he was given stronger ones. When he was examined with the ophthalmoscope, it was found that he had incipient cataract in both eyes, in addition to myopia. When I told him about the cataracts, he said that other doctors had also informed him of them. He asked if I could help him, when so many others had attempted to do so by fitting him with glasses, and had failed. I told tdm glasses were not necessary, and suggested that he try the Sates method. With much hesitation, he finally consented. He said that he would believe in the treatment if I could improve the vision of either eye, for the distance, in one visit. At ten feet from the test card, he could see only the two hundred line, or the letter "C," but he said even that looked very much blurred.
I taught him to palm, and while he was resting his eyes in this way, asked him if he could remember a favorite chair in his home, or the title of a book he had read. I reminded him of a sunset, and a white cloud in a blue sky. He visualised the mental pictures described, and nodded his head as I mentioned one thing and then another. I continued this method for half an hour, and then asked him to remove his hands from his eyes, but not to open them. I told him to stand with eyes closed, and sway his body a short distance from side to side, just as an elephant does. This made him smile, but he did as I told him. He was than directed to open his eyes, and to blink frequently as he swayed. While moving his body from left to right, he was able, to Bob the letters of the test card, and without stopping, he read 10/50 with both eyes.
His face expressed his pleasure, and his eyes twinkled as he remarked: "I'm coming back for more treatment and will prove to those, who gave me no hope, that I am cured!"
Another patient, a woman, thirty-five years of age, was cured of myopia in two months' time. Her vision of the test card was 5/40 in each eye. During her first treatment, she made very little progress, because she strained so hard to see beyond two feet from her eyes. Palming seemed to tire, instead of helping her. She frequently removed her hands from her eyes, although she still kept them closed. I decided to have her try swaying her body from side to aide, first while sitting in a chair, and later while standing. To help her to away rhythmically, I practiced with her, and reminded her to blink all the time. When she became able to imagine things about the room to be moving in a direction opposite to the movement of her body, I told her to Bash one letter of the test card at a time. When she saw things moving in an opposite direction about the room, her eyes remained open in a natural way. just as soon as she glanced at the letters of the test card, she squeezed her eyes, practically closing them, and the muscles of her face became tense. When she was again seated in her chair and had closed her eyes, I placed three large test cards, all similar, at different distances from where she was seated. I placed the nearest about one foot away, the second three feet, and the third, five feet from her eyes. We again started the standing away and, while blinking, she was directed to look at a letter on the card nearest bar, then to flash the same letter on the next card, and to repeat this with the distant card. This method wait successful, and she was overcome with joy as she flashed each letter in turn on the cards.
Eight weeks later, she read 10/10 on different test cards. The retinoscope showed no more eyestrain, and the patient has not had a relapse since.
The Great Delusion
"Wearing Glasses to Strengthen the Eyes"