I strongly suggest that you read one of the blogs mentioned in the resources section for this chapter in order to more fully grasp the revolutionary ideas of Dr. Bates. Fortunately he translated his complex theories into practical exercises that are very easy to do and that will work whether or not you know the theories behind them. However, there is just one theory that seems very important to explain before I give you the exercises for vision training. This is the idea that eyesight and vision are entirely different. Eyesight is the measurement that results from the testing procedure described above. No doubt you are familiar with this and most likely know what your eyesight measures in each eye. Now, if we took two people with the same eyesight and put them through a series of tests of their vision, I am willing to bet that their ability to see would differ significantly. This is because seeing or vision is a result of much more than the mechanics of the eye. It includes memory, experience, and emotions. It is also a function of how relaxed you are at any one time and how accepting you are of what you see. Exploring the role of all these factors is the approach Dr. Bates took and is the basis of the techniques of vision training that are widely available today. I want to emphasize how empowering this understanding of the difference between eyesight and vision can be to you. You may have the experience that many of my patients have had. They do their exercises faithfully and discover that they can see much better. When they come back to me for an exam, I tell them that their eyesight is the same. That means that they are still reading the same line in the chart. However, I fully believe it when they tell me that they can see better, because I now understand that there is a lot more to seeing than meets the eye!
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EYESIGHT AND VISION Photo Gallery
Aldous Huxley meets Dr. Bates
You may be surprised to learn that one of the great philosophers of this century, Aldous Huxley, benefited enormously from the method of eye treatment that I will be describing in this chapter. Mr. Huxleys eye problems were due to an acute infection that left him blind for eighteen months and with the most limited vision after that. Even that began to fail in later years. In desperation, he began work with a vision training specialist, a woman who was an associate of Dr. Bates and a founder of the Bates Method. After several months, Mr. Huxley was reading without glasses and had much improved his vision. Problems of twenty-five years duration were improving. In gratitude for his own experience, he wrote The Art of Seeing in 1942 (now out of print, unfortunately) which relates the Bates Method of visual education with modern psychology and critical philosophy. The following quotation from his preface gives an idea of how he saw this work in the context of standard medical practice of his day, over fifty years ago. The following passage is taken from The Art of Seeing.
Why, it may be asked, have ophthalmologists failed to make these applications of universally accepted principles? The answer is clear. Ever since ophthalmology became a science, its practitioners have been obsessively preoccupied with only one aspect of the total, complex process of seeing – the physiological. They have paid attention exclusively to eyes, not at all to the mind which makes use of the eyes to see with. I have been treated by men of the highest eminence in their profession, but never once did they so much as faintly hint that there might be a mental side to vision, or that there might be wrong ways of using the eyes and mind as well as right ways, unnatural and abnormal modes of visual functioning as well as natural and normal ones.
Perhaps your experience has been the same as Huxleys. Up until now, no one has suggested that there might be a better way to use your eyes. Welcome to a new world. I am going to outline a simple vision training program that you can begin doing today, in your own home, without purchasing anything! I know you will find that your ability to see improves.