Use Your Own Eyes
by William B. MacCracken, M. D. Use Your Own Eyes was first published in 1937.
IN THIS chapter I shall report some cases in my own practice which illustrate the value of the Bates method in abnormal conditions of the eye which are rare, as compared with the conditions of the eye that have been discussed in previous chapters. The causes of these conditions are often obscure. In the text books certain causative predisposing diseases are mentioned, but often none of those mentioned abnormal conditions of the body are present. The purpose of reporting the following cases is to show that the abnormal conditions of the eye discussed were relieved and normal sight recovered. In these several cases, the treatment was undertaken either after treatment by a specialist had proved to be of no value, or after a specialist of recognized standing had assured the patient that no cure could be promised.
Iritis is an affliction in which the iris is inflamed. This almost always causes severe pain; and generally the vision is badly impaired or entirely lost. Often it is a so-called recurrent condition, disappearing entirely and reappearing sooner or later. In other cases the condition is constant.
A colored man, mentioned in a previous chapter, who gave a record of having been treated during seventeen years of recurrent iritis, by several eye specialists that he named, came to my office one Saturday with a statement that he had been home three weeks with a new attack, was suffering great pain and could not see all his fingers even with his hand held very near that eye. A friend drove him from Oakland. During that first hour in the office he was enabled to see with that eye, at a distance of three feet. the top two lines on the Snellen Test Card. Later, I was told by the patient who persuaded him to come and talk with me, that he had made an appointment the day before, to have that eye removed on Monday. It was only because of the novel treatment, and the result which astonished him, that he decided to go on with further treatment. He returned to work in ten days. It was over a year from that time that I heard from him last, and he then wrote me that his eye was in a satisfactory condition.
That patient had been through every examination used to detect a focus of toxemia in the body, and had his tonsils removed and teeth inspected. He knew every sort of customary treatment as used by the several specialists who had cared for him. However, his eye had never been treated with an ultraviolet ray until I used that ray on it. It was plain that the ultraviolet ray helped his eye very much. I have seen its value in treating other abnormal conditions of the eye. I have used the Kromayer ultraviolet ray lamp on my own eyes many times to note its effects. I have never seen any ill effects although I have used the Kromayer light several inches from the eyes, for a period up to three minutes. But the principal factor in his cure was the grand help he received from his visual center, in response to the demand in his mind, and the confidence developed from that first morning, when the pain stopped, and the sight began to come back to his blind eye.
Another case of iritis, constant for one year, has also been mentioned before. When that patient came to me, she could not see at all. For a year, a well known specialist treated her eyes. He promised he would help one eye, but said the other was "out of luck". The patient discontinued his treatments because her eyes were steadily growing worse. She then tried for three months to get some help from Christian Science teachings, but without any relief. By exposure to ultraviolet rays, and prolonged exposures to sunlight, and other practices, her eyes became normal. A significant feature of this case was that her eyes faltered again some months after, because of continued nerve tension, and failure to observe the rules she had been given. She secured relief when she followed the same treatment that had cured the condition before. During the two years following, her sight was normal. I have never heard that it did not continue to remain so. The cause for that iritis was not found by the eye specialist, during a year of treatment. The patient was under a constant mental strain, caused by economic conditions, and the dark outlook for a family of growing children. The same outlook continued at the time of the second attack. No medicine was used. She was cured twice with treatment by the practices of the method of Dr. Bates. The ultraviolet ray is an intensive sunlight treatment, approved by Dr. Bates when I wrote him that I was using it.
A case of detached retinas, consequent upon forty years of nearsightedness, has been mentioned before. That man was enabled to discard his two pairs of glasses by treatment according to the method directed by Dr. Sates, with the addition of the ultraviolet ray. The ultraviolet treatment helped him most, according to his own close observation.
The case of the young woman with hemianopsia, also reported in a previous chapter, was remarkable. Such cases are described in the textbooks. Sometimes a small spot on the retina is blind—no perception is registered in the visual center from the rays received on that spot. Such spots are called scotomata. This young woman had a large blind area on her left eye. In looking at the Snellen Test Card she could see only the last letter on each line with that eye. Among the conditions mentioned in text books as possible causes for failures of this nature on the part of the mechanism of vision, one finds neurasthenia (a nerve fatigue condition) and hysteria. Hysteria is not a condition called hysterics, which is often seen. Hysteria demonstrates many various forms of abnormal functions, of different parts of the body, and always involves some abnormal condition of the control center of the brain. Since some of that type of cases are classed in the text books as being caused by different kinds of nerve dysfunctions, why is it not reasonable to expect a suitable treatment of the nervous system to correct the dysfunction? In every other branch of medicine similar conditions are being cured in that way. The hemianopsia of that young woman was cured in that way in one hour. In previous chapters, I have mentioned two cases of amblyopia (vision poor up to the point of blindness), and my own case of amaurosis (blindness when no physical or chemical change is apparent) . The cases of amblyopia in adults each involved practical blindness in one eye from birth. One patient was twenty-two, and the other thirty-five years of age. Both eyes, practically blind, were able in a few days to see distinctly such objects as fingers, large letters, et cetera. The older patient had been offered no hope or treatment by the eye specialists consulted. The younger one was told to keep the good eye closed whenever possible, and make the nearly blind eye gradually learn to function. He was told that it would be two or three years before he would find any improvement, but he secured a fine improvement in a few days. My own experience, occurring when I was twenty, developed in an instant, began to lessen in half an hour, and had entirely disappeared in one hour. I was in normal health, had no other sensations, and was not conscious of any reason for its occurrence.
In standard text books, where the discussion treats of disturbances of vision when no changes in tissues are found, many real or supposed causes are specified. The type mentioned last on the list may be psychic blindness. But when one searches the large text books, with reams of pages recording the most minute findings about every other aspect of this tremendous subject of vision, one will find almost nothing about this psychic element of a function which in the same book is spoken of as ultimately a psychic function. Suppositions are offered to account for psychic blindness. But no explanation is found for that failure in vision when the supposed causes certainly are not present. For instance, it is stated that if a psychic blindness is caused by some destruction of an area in the visual center, objects are seen but are not recognized. But in cases where the psychic blindness suddenly changes into normal sight after it has been present for many years, that specific supposition is invalid. When no other explanation is offered for psychic blindness, one is left to wonder what causes it when it comes suddenly and disappears as quickly. To say simply that it is a phenomenon of hysteria is not a fair explanation, when many facts are in full view that are offered no consideration—or at least no comment.
It is not the intention of this chapter to wander into the field of psychology. What is written here is not an effort at some kind of erudite criticism. But the mechanism is under consideration in this book, and some plain facts are offered, in the form of a question. The underlying principle or factor in the type of faltering vision called psychic blindness, is the foundation of the method of Dr. Bates. When the answer is written to the question: "What then is psychic blindness?", it will be realized that the same answer will explain the cause which underlies those simpler failures in visual function that are troubling such a large part of the population which spends its daily life in a mental atmosphere full of unnatural, and unnecessary, and disturbing tensions.
The answer given by Dr. Bates was that the eye which is perfectly relaxed sees perfectly; and in order to relax the eye it is necessary to relax the mind. It is all very simple. Omar Khayyam found it, in the midst of his mathematics and astronomy and the intrigues of an Eastern Court. Abraham Lincoln had it. President Roosevelt has it—ever: though sometimes he does put on glasses. The simple, practical importance of it, to those who are having trouble with their vision, or whose children are ordered to put on spectacles for life, is that the necessary mental relaxation—simply normal, deliberate, effective functioning of the visual center, is within the easy and certain reach of all who are interested. It is a false answer to say that artificial lenses cure the abnormal mechanism of vision, when those artificial lenses must be changed again and again for stronger ones, because, as the wearers are told, their eyes are getting weaker and weaker.
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