Strengthening the Eyes

by Bernarr A. MacFadden, Strengthening the Eyes; A System of Scientific Eye Training.


Eyes speak all languages; wait for no letter of introduction; they ask no leave of age or rank; they respect neither poverty nor riches; neither learning nor power, nor virtue, nor sex, but intrude and come again, and go through and through you in a moment of time.


NEARLY twenty-five years have passed since my interest was aroused in the problem of strengthening the eyes. It was the result of an experience that came near to being tragical.

No one can adequately measure the value of sight; but when we feel it failing we can in some degree realize what that value is. Such was my case on the occasion referred to. At the time I was assuming unusual responsibilities in the editorial and business management of the Physical Culture Magazine, the publication having recently leapt into a prominent position, making the work extremely difficult. I had also undertaken to write an important book, the correspondence I was receiving having led me to see that there would be a large demand for the information that I expected to include therein.

Before having done any work on the book, except to divide the important phases of the subject into chapters, I advertised it, thinking it could well be finished and printed, ready for sale, at the time announced. My other duties, however, were so exacting that I was unable to begin writing when I expected to.

The demand for the work was extraordinary; orders poured into the office at the rate of two or three hundred a day, and further delay was out of the question. No one could assume my particular duties in editing and publishing the Physical Culture Magazine; and moreover, at that time I had no assistant editors, or proofreaders, to relieve me of details. Therefore, in order to get any time for the book I was obliged to labor far into the night. By working night and day, however, I was able to finish it in about thirty days.

But the morning after the last corrected proof had been returned to the printer, I was appalled by the condition of my eyes. Vision was imperfect in many ways, and on picking up a newspaper, the printed page appeared like solid black.

I realized in a few seconds the value of my eyesight, and I did some rapid and serious thinking.

I had no faith in oculists and less in other doctors; the thought of consulting them did not even occur to me. I knew that my eyes must have been affected both locally and constitutionally, for not only had they been subjected to extreme overwork, but this overwork had lowered my general vitality. Whatever my business responsibilities might be, I saw that a vacation was now necessary, and I accordingly took it.

After returning to my duties in about two weeks, my eyes were greatly improved, but their condition was still far from satisfactory. I finally concluded to take a fast of one week in order to cleanse thoroughly my physical organism. This benefited my eyes tremendously. Thereafter I began to experiment with various eye exercises together with the eye bath, massage, etc., and my eyes soon acquired their former vigor.

Oculists with whom I came in contact during this period warned me of the dangers of adhering to my views. Blindness, they said, would surely be my fate.

In recent years I have been informed on numerous occasions that the eyes naturally begin to deteriorate after forty years of age, and that total blindness might result if I did not assist them with glasses. About ten years ago (I am now in my fifty-fifth year), when I was treating hundreds of patients at the Bernarr Macfadden Healthatorium in Chicago, one of my patients, an oculist, was very emphatic in his warnings as to the danger I was running by not wearing glasses, and he finally induced me to promise him that I would try a pair if he sent them to me after he returned home. The glasses arrived in due time, but after wearing them for about ten minutes my eyes pained me so severely that I had to discard them. No doubt they were not adjusted to the condition of my eyes, but I did not try to improve upon them. I have refrained from adopting the "eye crutch" up to the present time, and I hope that for many years to come I shall be able to avoid them. As a result of the natural methods of treatment already explained, my eyes are excellent and I work strenuously with both brain and eyes regularly six days per week, and long, tedious days at that.

When my book, "Strong Eyes," was first published, the principles presented therein were to a certain extent new, but I was thoroughly convinced of their correctness and thousands of readers have attested their value since the first edition of the book was issued. More than fifty thousand copies of the book have been sold, and in no instance have I heard of an injury to the eyes because of the use of the methods outlined therein; but, on the other hand, thousands have borne witness to extraordinary benefit derived from them, while numbers have been able to discard their glasses altogether as a result of their use.

Consequently this book is presented, not as a mere set of complex and untried theories, but as an aggregation of definite and practical facts.

Some years ago I came in contact with the work of a prominent eye specialist who is a scientist of high standing in the field of ophthalmology and a graduate of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York. This physician began his studies in connection with his revolutionary theories in 1886. It was in this year that he cured his first case of myopia (near-sight). Encouraged by this success, he treated many patients at the New York Eye Infirmary with benefit, accomplishing some complete cures. While he was at the New York Post Graduate, his success was such as to bring about the loss of his position, the eye specialist in charge there maintaining that such cures were impossible, and this notwithstanding the fact that the proof was there for investigation.

In 1903 this physician discovered that teachers could not only prevent the occurrence of myopia among their pupils, but could cure it by the use of the "Snellen test card." This was the first successful method for the prevention of myopia and other cases of imperfect sight in school children, and in itself is a discovery that will greatly benefit humanity. (See New York Medical Journal, July 29, 1911 [link].) In 1912 this method was introduced into some of the public schools of the city of New York, the results being published in the New York Medical Journal, August 30, 1913 [link]. The teachers cured one thousand children of imperfect sight without the help of glasses.

During the last ten years, this scientist has made many experiments on rabbits, fish, cats and dogs for the purpose of gaining information about the action of the external muscles of the eye. By this means he has been able to bring to light many facts which are entirely opposite to the theories about the eye published in text books at the present time. These experiments, some details of which may be found in the New York Medical Journal for May 8, 1915 [link], together with his untiring studies of the human eye, have further led this physician to formulate a system of eye training by means of which not only errors of refraction but almost every irregularity of the eye can either be cured or materially benefited without the help of glasses.

Directly opposed to the methods and theories of orthodoxy, this system is not only revolutionary in character, but far-reaching in its practical importance.

I feel sure that in adopting the ideas of this eminent scientist I have been able not only to stamp my own theories with the approval of up-to-date science, but to present to the public a course of eye training which will bear the most searching criticism.

It is scientific and practical, and has been proven conclusively to be of inestimable value. It should enable you to so strengthen your eyes that glasses will not be needed later in life, while in many cases it will enable you to discard the glasses which you may now be wearing; it should also enable many to avoid the loss of a possession priceless in value—the sense of sight.

This book is sent out in the hope that it will be a boon to many who need the invaluable information which it contains. That its methods sometimes require considerable time and patience for their successful practice should not lessen their value. The rewards which await those who follow the instructions given will be beyond price.

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