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April 1927 

Demonstrate – Presbyopia: Its Cause and Cure – Fundamental Facts, Fine Print, The Universal Swing, – Stories From The Clinic; 86. Presbyopia – Case History – Questions and Answers – The Use of the Sun Glass



APRIL, 1927


1. That palming improves the sight.
When both eyes are closed and covered with one or both hands in such a way as to exclude all light, one does not see red, blue, green or any other color. In short, when the palming is successful one does not see anything but black, and when the eyes are opened, the vision is always improved.

(Modern teachers say the colors will disappear as relaxation occurs. Don’t concentrate on the colors.
Relaxation of mind, eyes, body is the goal when palming. Seeing black is not mandatory. Just relax and let the mind drift from one pleasant thought to another, remember, imagine a happy scene, objects in motion, action, color and clear like a movie in the mind.)

2. That an imperfect memory prevents perfect palming and the vision is lowered.
Remember a letter “O” imperfectly, a letter “O” which has no white center and is covered by a gray cloud. It takes time; the effort is considerable and in spite of all that is done, the memory of the imperfect “O” is lost or forgotten for a time. The whole field is a shade of gray or of some other color, and when the hands are removed from the eyes, the vision is lowered.

3. That when a perfect letter “O” is remembered, palming is practiced properly, continuously and easily and the sight is always benefited.

4. That to fail to improve the sight by palming, or to palm imperfectly is difficult.
To fail, requires a stare or a strain and is not easy. When an effort is made, the eyes and mind are staring, straining, trying to see. When no effort is made, the palming becomes successful and the vision is benefited. Successful palming is not accomplished by doing things. Palming becomes successful by the things that are not done.

5. That the longer you palm, the greater the benefit to your vision.
Palm first for two minutes, then four minutes, six, etc., until you have palmed for fifteen. Notice the improvement gained in 15 minutes has been greater than that in four minutes.

Let the mind drift from one pleasant thought, image to another. Shift on objects in the imagination. Remember, imagine objects, scenery clear, in color, motion: bird flying, butterfly flying from flower to flower, tree branches, apple on a tree, see its details; antennas, colorful wings, legs.., then it fly’s through a field, lands on a high blade of grass, fly’s off again to a distant tree, then back up close, then off again zig-zagging in the air, flying along the river.., imagine the wind blowing the trees, grass in a field, sun sparkling on the water. Hear the wind blow, feel the warmth of sun. Imagine walking into the scene, become part of it.

Presbyopia: its Cause and Cure

By W. H. Bates, M.D.

Most people, when they reach the age of forty years or older, become unable to read or see things clearly at the near point, while their sight for distance is usually good. This is called presbyopia or middle-aged sight. It is sometimes, although infrequently, found in children.

Old Gentleman Cures Unclear Close Vision by Reading, Writing Fine Print

 While it is sometimes very difficult to cure presbyopia, it is, fortunately, very easy to prevent it. Oliver Wendell Holmes told us how to do it in “The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table,” and it is astonishing , not only, that no attention was paid to his advice, but that we should be warned against the very course which was found so beneficial in the case he records:
“There is now living in New York State,” he says, “an old gentleman who, perceiving his sight to fail, immediately took to exercising it on the finest print, and in this way fairly bullied Nature out of her foolish habit of taking liberties at the age of forty-five or thereabouts. And now this old gentleman performs the most extraordinary feats with his pen, showing that his eyes must be a pair of microscopes. I should be afraid to say how much he writes on the compass of a half dime, whether the Psalms or the gospels, or the Psalms and the gospels, I won’t be positive.”

Presbyopia Cure

Persons, whose sight is beginning to fail at the near-point, or who are approaching the presbyopic age should imitate the example of this remarkable old gentleman. Get a specimen of diamond type, and read it every day in an artificial light, (sunlight is best) bringing it closer and closer to the eye till it can be read at six inches or less. Or get a specimen of type reduced by photography until it is much smaller than diamond type, and do the same. You will thus escape, not only the necessity of wearing glasses for reading and near work, but all of those eye troubles which now so often darken the later years of life.
Reading fine print prevents cataract and other eye problems. The smaller the print, the more vision improves.
Shifting point to point on tiny details of small objects; stone, jewelry… at close distances from the eyes also improves close vision. Practice relaxed, no effort, no force.

I remember an old darkey who said he was a hundred and six years old, who was quite blind for distant objects, and was unable to read an ordinary newspaper at one foot or further. With the aid of eye education, his vision for distance soon became normal, and his vision for near point also improved so that he could read diamond type at six inches without glasses.

The cause of presbyopia has been ascribed by most authorities to a hardening of the lens of the eye, so that the focus of the lens cannot be readily altered. This theory is incorrect. When the lens has been removed for cataract or some other reason, most cases have become able, by education, to read fine print at six inches or less without glasses.
Authorities on ophthalmology have always claimed that the focus of the eye was benefited by a change in the curvature of the lens. The evidence that the lens is not a factor in accommodation has only been recently proved. The eye changes its focus by a change in its length, brought about by the action of the muscles on the outside of the eyeball. In near-sightedness, the eyeball is squeezed by the external muscles and the optic axis is lengthened, i.e., the eyeball becomes elongated.
The human eye acts in the same way as a photographic camera acts. If a picture is taken at the near point, the bellows of the camera is lengthened in order to focus the near object, while to focus objects at the distance the bellows of the camera is shortened. When the eye is at rest, it has the form of a perfect sphere.
See more info on the lens, outer, inner eye muscles, accommodation in the July, 1926 ‘The Great Delusion’ issue of Better Eyesight Magazine.

Fundamental Facts

Memory and Imagination

In studying the cause of presbyopia it is well to remember or to demonstrate some fundamental facts. In the first place, the printed page has more white exposed than it has black. One can look at the white spaces between the lines and hold the book very close to the eyes four or five inches or more without any discomfort, but if one looks at a letter or part of a letter and tries to keep his mind fixed on that one part continuously, sooner or later the eyes become tired, the mind wanders, and the vision becomes imperfect. Looking at the white spaces and imagining them to be perfectly white, is a rest and can be accomplished more readily than improving the black letters by an effort.
Shift when looking at the spaces and when looking at the letters.
When the white center of a letter “O” is seen gray, blurred and indistinct, one is seeing something that is not there. In other words, imperfect sight is never seen; it is only imagined. With perfect sight one may see the white center of the letter much whiter than it really is, or whiter than the rest of the card. By covering over the black part of the letter “O” with a screen and exposing only a part of the white center, one can demonstrate that the whiteness in the center of a letter “O” when seen perfectly, is not really seen, but imagined. Imagination of perfect sight is easier than imagination of imperfect sight. When one remembers a letter “O” perfectly, it is accomplished without effort, and it may be remembered more or less continuously, but if a letter “O” is imagined imperfectly without a white center, blurred, or cloudy, it prevents the letter from being seen, remembered or imagined clearly as an “O.” To improve the memory or the imagination of an imperfect “O” requires time, a second or longer. To make an attempt to remember an imperfect “O” continuously is difficult, requires much trouble, causes pain in the eyes and head, and discomfort of various kinds in all the nerves of the body. The memory of imperfect sight is difficult, because it requires so much effort to maintain it. In spite of all the efforts that are made to remember imperfect sight, one soon demonstrates that the imperfect letter “O” will not be remembered continuously. It is the things that we stop doing that promote the memory of perfect sight. We do not need to practice something new nor learn by mental training how to do something that we have never done before. When a patient is convinced of these facts it is difficult to realize why he keeps on doing wrong, when using his eyes correctly is so much easier and brings renewed vision.

Fine Print

When people are able to read fine print with perfect sight at six inches or further, the white spaces between the lines are seen or imagined whiter than the rest of the card. The ability to imagine the white spaces between the lines to be very white is accomplished by the memory of white snow, white starch or anything perfectly white, with the eyes closed for part of a minute. Some patients count thirty while remembering some white object or scene with the eyes closed. Then, when the eyes are opened for a second, the white spaces between the lines of black letters are imagined or seen much whiter than before. By alternately remembering something perfectly white with the eyes closed and opening them for a few seconds and flashing the spaces, the vision or the imagination of the white spaces improves. One needs to be careful not to make an effort or to regard the black letters. When the white spaces between the lines are imagined sufficiently white, or as white as they can be remembered with the eyes closed and with the eyes open; then, look at the black letters, see them clear, the black letters are read without effort or strain, or without the consciousness of regarding the black letters.
The Thin White Line
Many people discover that they can imagine a thin white line where the bottom of the letters comes in contact with the white spaces. This thin line is very white, and the thinner it is imagined to be, the whiter it becomes. When it is imagined perfectly, the letters are read without the consciousness of looking at them and the vision or imagination of the white is very much improved. This thin white line can be imagined much whiter than any other part of the page, and is more easily imagined or seen than any other part. Of course, the eyes have to shift from the thin, white line to the letters in order to see them, but the shifting is done so readily, so continuously, so perfectly that the reader does not notice that he is constantly shifting. When the vision of the thin, white line is imperfect, the shifting is slow and imperfect and the vision for the letters is impaired. The memory or the imagination of the thin, white line is usually so easy, so perfect and so continuous that everything regarded is seen with maximum vision. Patients with cataract who become able to imagine this thin, white line perfectly, very soon become able to read the finest print without effort or strain, and the cataract always improves, or becomes less. Patients with hypermetropia, astigmatism, squint, diseases of the retina and optic nerve are benefited in every way by the memory or the imagination of the thin, white line. Reading fine print with perfect sight benefits or improves all organic diseases of the eye.
Another reason Dr. Bates has the person remember, imagine and look at the white spaces, white line is that: white functions as/with ‘light’, and activates the eyes retina. For this reason there are eyecharts with white letters printed on a black, blue… background. They are easier to see and relaxing especially for patients with low vision.

The Universal Swing

There are a number of varieties of the optical swing which prevent, improve or cure presbyopia. Of these, perhaps the best one of all is called the universal swing. When one can practice the universal swing, and at the same time test the imagination of the thin, white line or the white spaces between the lines, the presbyopia is usually very much benefited. The universal swing differs from all other swings in that the eyes, as well as the body, are all moving in the same direction as other objects seen or imagined.

If you hold your finger about six inches from your eyes, by moving your head from side to side it is possible to imagine the finger to be moving in the opposite direction. This is the variable swing. While the eyes are moving in the opposite direction to the movement of the finger, all other objects can be imagined in the same way. (to be moving opposite the movement of the finger. Also, close objects will show most appearance of moving opposite to the movement of the eyes, head). Usually distant objects do not swing as much as the finger and may appear to be almost stationary (or appear to move in the same direction the eyes/head move to and also appearing to move opposite the movement of the finger.)
With the eyes closed, one can remember the finger moving from side to side and imagine that all objects to which the finger is connected, directly or indirectly, appear to move in the same direction, and the same distance as the finger moves, the only difference being that the eyes move with the finger and with everything else, while with the eyes open in the variable swing, the eyes (and head) always move in the opposite direction to the movement of the finger. One can improve the universal swing by remembering the movement of the finger with the eyes closed. This swing can be demonstrated more readily with the eyes closed than with the eyes open.
This paragraph does not state whether the eyes/head are physically moved side to side when the eyes are closed.
There are different impressions seen by the minds eyes when the eyes/head are not moved and when they are moved:
+I notice that when I do not move the eyes/head side to side, left and right when the eyes are closed, while imagining seeing the finger move opposite, right and left, the closed eyes will follow the movement of the imaginary finger.
+If the eyes/head are moved left and right when the eyes are closed and imagining the finger moving opposite, the closed eyes will move opposite the imaginary moving finger the same as when the eyes are open.
It is relaxing to move the eyes/head side to side when imagining the finger moving opposite with eyes open and closed.

Oppositional Movement with Finger and Thumb

By holding the diamond type about six inches from your eyes and holding the thumb about an inch nearer the eyes, and about one-quarter of an inch to the left of one letter of the diamond type, one can demonstrate that when the head and eyes move from side to side, the thumb appears to move opposite, while the fine print appears to move with the movement of the head and eyes. At once, the fine print improves sufficiently to be read and the thin white line also becomes more perfectly seen or imagined.
Some patients are able to move the thumbnail more or less rapidly close to the bottom of the letters and read the fine print, perfectly continuously and rapidly. The thumbnail moving from side to side improves the imagination of the thin, white line, and when the thin, white line is imagined sufficiently white the letters are flashed sufficiently black to be distinguished.
Moving the head from side to side prevents the stare and in this way the vision is improved, but when the eyes and head move in a horizontal direction to the right, the movement stops before the head and eyes can move to the left. When the movement stops, time is given for the stare, or an effort to be made and the vision is lowered. When the head and eyes move in a circular direction, the movement becomes continuous and the vision is also more continuous. The circular swing may be practiced with the head and eyes moving in the orbit of a large circle. When the movement of the head and eyes in a circular direction is shortened, the vision is further improved. However, one has to realize that in a short, circular swing, the movement stops readily, thereby lowering the vision. Patients should demonstrate that a short, circular swing, while being a greater benefit, may be unconsciously stopped, while the large circular swing is more apt to be continuous. When the vision becomes lowered, while reading with the help of the circular swing, it is evidence that the circular swing has been unconsciously stopped.
Practice drawing large, medium, small Circular, Elliptical and Figure Eight Swings in the sunlight. Draw counter-clockwise, clockwise, counter-clockwise… Draw in the air with the eyes, hands and nosefeather, draw on paper.
Draw the Figure Eight, Infinity Swing – 
Another cure of presbyopia is accomplished with the aid of the memory. When one can remember a color, letter or an object perfectly, presbyopia disappears and the vision becomes normal. Perfect memory is always accompanied by perfect relaxation with perfect sight.

Stories From The Clinic


By Emily C. Lierman

I have recently had a few cases of presbyopia which were cured in a short time. One was a woman sixty-three years of age who did fine sewing for her livelihood. She had worn glasses for more than thirty years and during the past two years her eye specialist found it difficult to fit her with glasses correctly. She had purchased her last pair the day before she came to me, and told me they made her so nervous and irritable that she could not possibly wear them more than half a day.
Her vision for the distance was normal, 15/15 with each eye separately. I gave her a small test card to hold, which has the Fundamentals by Dr. W. H. Bates on the opposite side and asked her to read what she could on it. She held it at arm’s length and said that she knew there was some kind of print on the card but could not tell what it was. In despair she looked at me and said, “I fear you will have a hard time getting me to read this.” I gave her the small booklet containing the microscopic type and also a small card with diamond type. I placed the booklet at the lower part of the Fundamentals card and the diamond type card in the center. She was told to hold these about twelve inches from her eyes and not to worry about reading the print. The patient looked at me in a blank sort of way wondering how it was possible to cure presbyopia in this manner. As she was optimistic, it was easy for me to treat her. She was willing to believe that I could do for her what had been done for others whom she knew had been cured by Dr. Bates. I told her to look at the small white spaces between the lines of print in the booklet, close both eyes and remember the white spaces. She could remember them white with her eyes closed. I told her to open her eyes and again look at the white spaces. She said they appeared whiter than they had the first time. Again I told her to close her eyes and remember the white spaces and to open them in less than a second, look at the white spaces of the diamond type card, close her eyes and remember the white spaces; then for just a second to open her eyes and look at the white spaces of the Fundamentals card. I told her to keep this up while I was out of the room and left her to herself for almost a half hour. Before leaving I warned her about trying to read the print, telling her that she was to flash only the white spaces. When I returned she looked at me very much frightened and said “What am I to do, I cannot help but tell you the truth, I can read this Fundamentals’ card.” I noticed that she held the Fundamental card eight inches from her eyes instead of twelve. She read one sentence after another for me.
I told her to be careful about staring at the type, and be sure to look at the white spaces directly below the sentence she was reading instead of at the letters. (Modern teachers state to look at the white spaces, remember/imagine the white spaces clear, pure, bright glowing white, then, when the eyes are relaxed; look directly at the black letters and read the words. Trying to read by looking at the white spaces while seeing the words in the peripheral field is diffusion, the opposite of central fixation and causes strain and unclear vision. Always look directly at the object you want to see clear and shift, move the eyes upon it. After reading a sentence of the Fundamentals card she would shift to the white spaces of the blue booklet and then to the spaces of the small card and back again to the Fundamentals card. The treatment lasted about one hour. I told her to telephone me the next day and let me know if she had forgotten what I had directed her to do. She called, and said that she was able to read some of the Bible type as well as all of the print on the Fundamentals card. Having read my book before she came for treatment, she knew that staring produced much discomfort and realized that she should blink frequently. Her knowledge of the benefits of blinking helped her to be cured more quickly than the usual case of this kind. The last time that she telephoned she reported that her sewing was much easier to do. She has entirely discarded her glasses and promises never to wear them again.

The second patient was a man fifty-eight years of age, a bank teller. He had heard of a bank president who had been cured by Dr. Bates. Then he obtained my book and Dr. Bates’ book, “Perfect Sight Without Glasses,” from the public library. He understood the directions described in each book, but there were times when he was unsuccessful in getting good results, so he came to me for help.
His sight was tested for the distance and he read 15/30 with each eye separately, although he saw some of the letters double. He complained of headache and pain in the back of his eyes, especially while working. He was then directed to palm and to imagine that he was adding accounts. He said it caused more strain and discomfort in his head and eyes. He said that it would be impossible to palm during business hours. I told him that it would not be necessary, that there were other things that he could do to prevent his headaches and eyestrain. I taught him to blink and shift all day long like the normal eye does in order to keep the eyes relaxed and in good condition. He was told to remember something perfectly, easily and without effort. He said he could remember the ocean with the tide coming in and that every seventh wave was the largest. Knowing the game of football helped him to imagine the size, color and shape of the ball. All these little details which improved his memory helped to relax his mind while his eyes were closed.
After ten minutes, he was instructed to stand with his feet about one foot apart and sway his body to the right and then to the left. As the window was close by, I directed him to look off in the distance and notice objects moving with his body, eyes and head, while things up close seemed to move opposite. He said he was hoping I would let him do that for quite a while because the bad headache he had just before coming to me, was disappearing.
Then I told him to keep up the swing, looking out of the window and then toward the test card. As soon as he saw a letter I told him to look away, keeping up the swing all the while. This time he read 15/10 with each eye separately. When I gave him the Fundamental card to read, he could see only sentence No. 2. All the rest of the card was very much blurred to him. Again I directed him to stand and swing and notice distant objects moving with his eyes and body, while things close appeared to move opposite.
I then had him sit in a chair with his back to the sun and told him to remember the sway of the body with his eyes closed. In a short time he began to practice again with the Fundamental card, and this time he read up to No. 8 by imagining the white spaces whiter than they really were. I watched him as he tried to read further and when he began to read the small type, he stopped the blinking unconsciously and stared at the print. I noticed that his forehead became wrinkled and that he squeezed his eyes almost shut to read. (Squinting) I stopped this and asked him to close his eyes quickly and tell me how he felt. He had produced a strain that caused his head and eyes to ache. I reminded him that by squeezing his eyes and staring and making an effort, a strain had been produced. While his eyes were covered with the palm of one hand, he remarked, “Now I realize what I must do all day long to see without straining.” I told him that when patients found out for themselves that staring brings on tension and pain, they are cured much more quickly than others who do not realize this fact. He was cured in three visits.

My third case of presbyopia, which took the longest time to cure, was a music teacher forty-nine years of age. It was very hard to convince her that I could benefit her.
Her vision for the test card with each eye was normal, 15/15. When I gave her the Fundamental card to read, she was quite positive that she would never read any of it without her glasses. I gave her a “Better Eyesight” Magazine and told her to look at the title. She said that she could see it, but that the type was blurred as she held it at arm’s length from her eyes.
She was told to close her eyes and palm with one hand and remember one of the letters of the test card that she had read at fifteen feet. Then, in less than a moment’s time, I told her to remove her hand from her eyes and look at the white spaces of the Fundamental card. She did this a few times and then began to smile. She said the print was beginning to clear up, but that it soon faded away and she became unable to read it again. When I told her to avoid looking at the type, she laughed. Immediately I became convinced that this was the way she read her sheet music. She looked directly at the notes and lowered her vision by staring. By closing her eyes and remembering white spaces, then opening them and looking at the white spaces, words began to clear up and she became a very different person. When she was successful in doing as I directed, she read up to No. 3 of the Fundamental card. I saw her once a week for more than a month before she was able to read the entire Fundamental card, eight inches from her eyes. She was told to place the small black test card on the piano near the sheet music and to frequently flash a letter of the card; then read her music. In this way she was cured. All patients cannot be treated in the same way, no matter what trouble they may have with their eyes. Eyestrain has a great deal to do with the mind and the Bates Method has surely proved it.
It is ok to look directly at the print as long as the eyes shift on it. Shifting, central fixation, blink. Avoid staring, squinting, effort to see clear.
Flash – two meanings:
1 = To look at, shift on a object quickly for a ‘fraction of a second’ and then close the eyes to avoid giving the eyes, mind a chance to use strain, effort to see. For that fraction of a second the letter is often clear and with practice the letter remains clear longer.
2 = A flash of clear vision lasting a fraction of a second or longer to minutes, hours, weeks, permanent .)

Case History

January 14, 1927
Mr. Robert C. Fager,
38 South 17th St.
Harrisburg, Pa.

Dear Sir:
In reply to your letter of the 11th concerning Dr. Bates’ book “Perfect Sight Without Glasses,” I would like to say that after reading this book about five years ago and practicing the methods outlined in the book, I was able to lay aside my glasses which I had been wearing more or less for twenty-one years. I have not used my glasses since that time and have noted no bad effects, in fact, I have continued to feel better and gain in weight until I am now, at forty-two years of age, better than I ever was.
I still have some slight astigmatism in my right eye, but feel that if I would really take the time and trouble to practice Dr. Bates’ methods more thoroughly, I would easily overcome this difficulty.
When I used to wear glasses, I would get headaches in a few minutes time if I tried to read without them. Since learning Dr. Bates’ eye exercises, I have had no trouble reading as long as I wanted to without any headaches.
If you have had no operation on your eyes, I feel sure that you can obtain normal vision if you will conscientiously practice the methods described in Dr. Bates’ book.

Sincerely yours,
Professor of Experimental Engineering,
North Carolina State College of
Agriculture and Engineering.

Questions and Answers

Q - In case of illness where one is unable to practice with the Snellen test card or stand up, what method is used?
A - Blink frequently and shift your eyes constantly from one point to another. Turn your head slightly from side to side on the pillow or close your eyes and think of something pleasant, something that you can remember perfectly and let your mind drift from one pleasant thought to another.

Q -The sun shining on the snow darkens and almost blinds my vision. What is this caused by, and how can I obtain relief?
A -This is caused by a strain and can be relieved by practicing blinking, shifting and central fixation all day long. Notice that stationary objects appear to move in the direction opposite to the movement of your head and eyes. Notice that the trees or other near objects move opposite while the horizon or distant objects move with you.
Poor nutrition, drugs, some herbs, can impair the eyes adjustment from light to dark, dark to light.

Q - Does wearing rubbers for any length of time hurt the eyes?
A - Yes, it does not give the blood an opportunity to circulate properly.

Q - It is very hard for me to think in terms of black and white. Is there some other method which is just as beneficial?
A - Yes, letting your mind drift from one pleasant memory to another will accomplish the same results.

Q - Is it necessary to practice with the Snellen test card if you follow the method otherwise?
A - Yes, it is advisable to keep up your daily practice with the test card for at least a few moments. This will improve your memory and the memory must be improved in order to have the vision improve.