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January 1929

                                  Time for Practice – Astigmatism – Stories From The Clinic; 107. Chronic Iritis Relieved by Treatment by Emily A. Bates – The Use of the Sunglass


BETTER EYESIGHT

A MONTHLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED TO THE PREVENTION AND CURE OF IMPERFECT SIGHT WITHOUT GLASSES

JANUARY, 1929

Time For Practice

So many people with imperfect sight say that they have not the time to practice relaxation methods, as their time is taken up at business or in the performance of other duties. I always tell such people, however, that they have just as much time to use their eyes correctly as incorrectly.

+ They can imagine stationary objects to be moving opposite whenever they move their head and eyes. When the head and eyes move to the left, stationary objects should appear to move to the right, and vice versa.

+ They can remember to blink their eyes in the same way that the normal eye blinks unconsciously, which is frequently, rapidly, continuously, without any effort or strain, until by conscious practice, it will eventually become an unconscious habit, and one that will be of benefit to the patient.

+ They can remember to shift or look from one point to another continuously.

+ When practicing shifting, it is well to move the head in the same direction as the eyes move. If the head moves to the right, the eyes should move to the right. If the head moves to the left, the eyes should move to the left. By practicing in this way, relaxation is often obtained very quickly, but: if the eyes are moved to the right and at the same time the head is moved to the left, a strain on the nerves of the eyes and the nerves of the body in general is produced (and central fixation, normal eye movement is prevented).


Astigmatism

(and Conical Cornea)

By W. H. Bates, M.D.

Astigmatism occurs in nearly all cases of imperfect sight for which glasses are employed to improve the vision. It is so often observed in many eyes soon after birth that many writers have stated that it is congenital and not acquired. The majority of statistics, however, show that astigmatism is usually acquired. As a general rule we may say that it always is a complication of myopia and less often of hypermetropia. In nine tenths of the cases, the astigmatism is due to a malformation of the cornea. Some writers have published accounts of cases of astigmatism produced by organic changes in the eyeball without necessarily producing corneal astigmatism.
Astigmatism frequently is recognized to be always changing. Without interference or treatment the astigmatism may increase to a considerable degree or it may become less and even disappear altogether.
The vision in most cases of astigmatism can be improved by the use of proper glasses. However, there are some forms of astigmatism in which no glasses can be found to correct the error. In regular astigmatism, two meridians of the cornea are at right angles to each other. Astigmatism often follows inflammation of the cornea. After the inflammations and ulcerations of the cornea have healed, they may leave behind scar tissue, which by its irregular contraction produces irregular astigmatism. In such cases, glasses seldom or never improve the vision, but it has been helped by relaxation methods.
When astigmatism is present, eyestrain is usually manifest. It should be more widely published that regular astigmatism, although not benefited by proper glasses, has been improved or cured by the practice of central fixation. A perfect memory for letters and other objects is a cure for astigmatism.

Conical cornea is usually acquired. In the beginning, the astigmatism which is produced or acquired is slight. After some years, however, the conical cornea will increase to a considerable degree. The astigmatism is so irregular that no operations on the cornea to correct this malformation have succeeded. The pain caused by conical cornea may become so severe that some physicians have recommended that the eye be removed. The treatment of conical cornea with the aid of central fixation has relieved pain in many of these cases. It is not right to ignore central fixation as a cure for conical cornea. Many eye doctors have condemned the treatment without a proper investigation.
Patients who suffered from conical cornea have consulted numerous physicians to obtain relief. These physicians too often informed the patients that there was no relief known to medical science to lessen pain in severe cases and improve the vision in conical cornea. Some of these unfortunates, after obtaining the opinion of prominent physicians, have been cured by central fixation and then returned to the specialists who had previously given them a bad prognosis. In some cases I have heard that these physicians were so annoyed by the report of the cured patient that the interview was not always a pleasant experience.
The results obtained in the treatment of astigmatism of all kinds, without glasses, and by the methods I have recommended, have been very gratifying.
Some cases of irregular astigmatism suffer an unusual amount of pain in ordinary daylight. After the eyes become accustomed to the sunlight or other forms of light, the astigmatism becomes less when measured with the help of the ophthalmoscope, retinoscope, or the ophthalmometer. No matter how sensitive the eyes may be to different forms of light, gradual exposure of the eyes to the same degrees of light has benefited the patient.
In the beginning of treatment, the strength of the light used should be less than will be used later on after the eyes have become more accustomed to the strong light. It is an interesting fact that eyes which have normal vision without astigmatism seem able to stand a strong light reflected into the eyes much better than can patients whose eyes are imperfect or who have a considerable amount of astigmatism.
Sunning
When practicing looking at the sun one should not at first look directly at it unless the eyes are normal. When becoming accustomed to strong sunlight a patient should move the head from side to side while the eyes are closed. Many people have observed that when looking at distant electric lights, the lights observed were imagined to be moving. When the lights did not appear to be moving, movement of the head and eyes from side to side would produce an apparent movement of the distant light. Patients who were able to look directly at the sun without any discomfort whatever volunteered the information that looking at the sun was not disagreeable, providing one imagined that it was moving from side to side. Shift the eyes left and right, side to side of the sun and move the head/face with the eyes. Shift top and bottom, circle the edge of the sun counter-clockwise and clockwise.
The treatment of astigmatism is a matter of importance because for many years no methods of treatment were at all successful. One of the most successful methods of treating astigmatism is to encourage the patient to remember, imagine, or see letters of the test card perfectly. The patients are encouraged to commit the card to memory. When letters or other objects are memorized perfectly, the astigmatism always becomes less until it disappears altogether. This is a truth to which there are no exceptions and suggests a method of treatment which should always prevent or cure imperfect sight produced by astigmatism.
With the consent of the principal of a large school in New York City, I placed a Snellen test card in all the rooms of the school. The principal asked me how I could prevent the pupils from memorizing the card. She was told that it was planned to encourage the pupils to memorize the card, because letters on the Snellen test card could be remembered, imagined, or seen best after they were memorized. She was also told that the teachers could help materially in the prevention or cure of astigmatism.
Looking at familiar, clear objects relaxes the mind, eyes, keeps the vision clear at all distances.
The principal shrugged her shoulders and said that she would not be a party to any such foolish plan and that she would not allow any of her pupils to use the Snellen test card for any purpose whatever. She told some of her friends, however, that she was going to put the card up and encourage the children to memorize it and then prove that she knew more than the Doctor, namely that the Snellen test card memorized was of no benefit whatever in curing astigmatism. She also admitted that she did not know the first thing about astigmatism and did not want to know anything about it.
At the end of three months I called on the principal again. A friendly teacher told me that my enemy was gloating over the prospect of finding out how little most doctors knew about the eye. She seemed very glad to see me and shook hands and smiled and said that they were all ready to test the sight with the Snellen test card and find out how much good had been done by its use.
First she examined the sight of all the children and compared it with a record that she had made previously. She was not satisfied with the result and asked another teacher to test the sight of the children and report. Quite a number of teachers were present at this second examination as well as at the first and the number of visitors increased until there were more teachers than there were pupils. Everyone was anxious to know the result of the trial.
It was a shock to all the teachers who tested the sight of the children to find that the vision of every pupil had improved and many children wearing quite strong glasses for the improvement of astigmatism had read the card perfectly without glasses. My enemy was not satisfied; she thought there must have been something queer in my cards so she obtained some strange cards from other teachers and it did not add anything to her peace of mind to find that the vision of the children tested with the strange card was much better than when my card was used.
Some patients with astigmatism complain that when they first awaken in the morning their eyes are under a much greater strain than in the afternoon. When such cases are examined with the aid of the retinoscope during sleep, they are found to be suffering from a great strain. The strain is not always apparent; the patient does not always know when it is present. Children are sometimes great sufferers from eyestrain during sleep. Many others have been advised to watch their children during sleep and if they believe the child is straining his eyes, the child should be awakened and taken out of bed. (The mother can tell that the child is suffering from eyestrain if the eyelids twitch and if different parts of the body twitch). The mother should then have the child practice the long swing for a few minutes or longer.

One man came to me suffering great pain almost constantly, which was not relieved by the use of glasses for the improvement of his astigmatism. He was told about how eyestrain during sleep can produce astigmatism, and of the symptoms of astigmatism which were pain, fatigue, and dizziness, and also how much benefit is obtained by practicing relaxation methods more or less frequently during the night. He had no one to call him during the night, so he gave orders to a clerk in a nearby hotel that he should be called by telephone every two hours during the night. When he was awakened he would practice relaxation methods. The relief was considerable and there were mornings when he testified that he was rested and had no symptoms of eyestrain at all. It was a great comfort to him to get rid of his headaches and the agony of pain which he described as being in his eyes and had been there many years.

One patient, a boy about twelve years of age, memorized the Snellen test card so that he could read the whole card of fifty-three letters in less than ten seconds. It was discovered that with the improvement in his memory, his vision for a strange card was also improved and his astigmatism became less and finally disappeared entirely.
Staring
Many people are unable to stare for any length of time because staring is painful, disagreeable, and produces fatigue. However, a boy ten years of age had practiced this staring and had acquired much skill; he was able to outstare any boy or girl in his classroom. He then went to other classes and challenged each boy and girl in those classes to a contest to find out which one could outstare the other. In order to excite their antagonism he called them names, so they stood around him and attempted to outstare him, but he, being in good practice, came out the winner.
The boy’s teacher noticed that after some of these staring contests, his eyes became quite inflamed, and his vision was unusually poor. His parents took him to a competent eye doctor who discovered that when he stared he produced a considerable amount of astigmatism. The doctor wanted to put glasses on him but the boy objected; he did not want glasses on because that wouldn’t be fair to the others. The doctor said that if he did not get well he would have to wear glasses, so the boy made up his mind to stop staring.
Anyone who can stare and strain to an unusual degree is able to relax the strain. It is interesting to demonstrate with the aid of the retinoscope that staring may produce a very high degree of astigmatism, but always after the staring is stopped the vision improves very much and the astigmatism becomes less. In short, it is more difficult to produce astigmatism than it is to cure it.

A man, aged sixty, suffering from astigmatism, had great difficulty in practicing central fixation, shifting, swinging, and the long swing. After four visits to my office he said that he had obtained no relief from his depression, his headaches, or other symptoms of astigmatism. He was advised to sit in the waiting room and try to do nothing whatever. At the end of this time his vision was tested and found to be normal. He was unable to practice relaxation methods because he made too great an effort, but when he did nothing and made no effort, his vision improved.


Chronic Iritis Relieved By Treatment

By Emily A. Bates

In Santa Monica, California, there lives a grateful patient who was cured of iritis and near-sightedness by the Bates Method during my stay in the West. He held a responsible position in one of the large banks there and he needed his sight most of all at his work. Two years previous to the time I saw him, he suffered an attack of iritis which caused much pain and discomfort most of the time. The usual drugs were used to relieve the pain but at times even these gave little relief. At the advice of some eye specialists he put on dark glasses and these enabled him to go out in the bright sunlight, something which he could not otherwise have done. Most patients who suffer from iritis cannot open their eyes at all while they are in a bright light. Dark glasses relieved the pain somewhat but they did not cure his trouble. He obtained Dr. Bates’ book, “Perfect Sight Without Glasses” and tried to apply the method by himself and then later came to me.
I wanted to be sure about the diagnosis which had to be made before I started treating him, so I sent him to an eye specialist who was taking care of my diagnostic cases. After my patient had called on this specialist for an examination of his eyes, he returned to me with the statement from the physician. It was purely a case of chronic iritis and the doctor was interested to see how the patient would get along under my care.
In March, 1927, the patient paid his first visit for treatment and he came alone. His vision for the test card with the right eye was 15/40 and with the left 15/50. The letters were blurred and indistinct and he lowered his head considerably while trying to read. When he was directed by me to hold his head straight while reading the card his eyes closed tightly and he did not have the ability to keep them open long enough to read even one letter at a time.
I handed him the Fundamental card and he said that at no distance, as he held the card farthest away from him and as near to his eyes as he could get it, could he read any of the type. After closing his eyes again for a short period of time he read Number 3 as he moved his body from side to side while sitting comfortably in a chair. By shifting from the white spaces on the card of the microscopic type that I gave him to the white spaces of the diamond type and then to the white spaces of the Fundamental card he read as far as Number 5 of the Fundamental card. (Looks directly at the print when reading it – central fixation.)
I had a case similar to his about four years ago, a case in which it ordinarily takes from four to six weeks to cure the pain alone. This patient was entirety relieved of pain, and her sight, which formerly was not normal, became so at the same time the iritis was cured, which was inside of two weeks. She had an acute attack of iritis before I saw her, which lasted for several months. A physician friend of Dr. Bates and myself saw this case while she was under treatment and while she was still suffering intense pain. When he examined her, at my suggestion, his opinion was that she could not possibly be cured within six or eight weeks at least. After she was cured, the case was reported to this doctor, who was amazed at what had been done for her. This case came to my mind instantly when the patient mentioned above visited me.
I noticed that he did not sit quietly while he was palming and thought that he was not getting any benefit in that way, but when I suggested it to him, he said that he liked to keep his eyes closed, but that covering his eyes with the palms of his hands seemed to bother him. He was encouraged then to keep his eyes closed for a period of half an hour while I was planning a regular routine of treatment for him.
Before he opened his eyes to read the card again, I asked him to describe parts of his daily work at the bank. It was interesting to hear him describe the difference between the notes that passed through his hands. He explained to me how a counterfeit bill is discovered by examining it carefully. Because of the pain he had been suffering for a long time I refrained from joking in any way, which I sometimes do if the patient is agreeable. There usually comes to my mind some funny incident which occurred while treating someone and I like, if possible, to change the subject from pain to something else, especially while the patient is palming.
This patient, however, did not make me feel that way in the beginning because of his reserved manner and also because of his pain. It was quite unexpected then to have him answer me in a funny way and tell me of something which he could remember most of all and which was constantly before him while he was at work. He said it was a nice, shiny thing with a black hole at one end and he made me laugh when he said it was a revolver, which was only introduced on rare occasions when there were suspicious people a little too close to him. This was something new to me and I had not expected it. His hearty laugh was most relaxing not only to him but to me also.
I told him that my sight was apparently normal but I feared that if I came in close contact with his revolver as I came near his window, I was sure that I would become myopic or acquire a cataract or something else. As quick as a flash I asked if he had any pain and as quickly he answered me saying “No, I haven’t any discomfort whatever just now.”
Immediately he was told to open his eyes and to read the card, which he did without squeezing his eyelids together as he did before. (Squinting) His vision improved to 15/10 and he said that the letters were clear. I am anxious for those who read this not to misunderstand me. He was not cured by any means nor was his vision permanently relieved right at this time. His vision improved and his discomfort and pain were relieved because his mind was relaxed. I thought this was a good beginning for the first treatment and told him so. He agreed with me and promised to practice as I directed him to do until I could see him again.
Financial difficulties prevented him from coming to me every day, which he should have done and which would have made the cure of his eyes permanent in a much shorter time. I surprised him the next day by telephoning him and offering to help him over the telephone. I happened to call him at a busy time, so the discussion was short and took less than ten minutes of his time and mine. He wrote me a letter in a week’s time telling me how much good I did him in those few moments.
As he talked to me at that time he stood before his telephone which was fastened to the wall. Just before I called him he had had an attack of pain and explained that all the window shades in the room where he was had to be drawn because the light caused so much pain. My advice was to place himself before a bright electric light as close as he could stand the heat and, with his eyes closed, move his head slowly from side to side in order that all parts of the eyes would receive the benefit from the light and heat.
I held the receiver while he did this and he soon came back to the telephone to tell me that the pain had gone and that he had raised the shades and was able to look out into the bright sunlight from one of the windows without feeling any pain. I advised him to write down immediately the things that helped him most and to practice these things, no matter how short a time he had each day. I told him to sway his body from side to side as he held the receiver and was talking to me and to blink his eyes with the movement of his body. This gave him some relief also. From time to time I advised him by letter and also by telephone.
In May of the same year my patient came again and this time he brought his wife, asking for permission to have her watch the treatment so that she could help him at home. I was glad that he brought her because I knew when I saw her that she would be a great help to us both. The instructions I gave her at this second visit were carried out by her and by the patient during the summer months while they were vacationing in the mountains. Toward the end of the summer, they both came to visit me and the condition of my patient’s eyes as well as the expression on his face indicated no more trouble. I tested his sight for fine print and he read the Fundamental card, by W. H. Bates, M. D., through to the end, holding the card slightly farther than six inches from his eyes. His vision for the distance was also normal, 15/15 with each eye separately.
His wife had told me that at times he suffered agonies of pain during the night after he had slept for a few hours. As long as she could remember, she said, he had never slept quietly all through the night. He was troubled with nightmares and he also had insomnia for many years, and at such times he would sit up for hours and smoke his pipe in order to while away the time until daybreak. For quite a few years, Dr. Bates has been benefiting patients by having them do the long swing 100 times early in the morning and 100 times just before retiring. I remembered this and advised my patient to try it and let me know in a week’s time whether he had any success with the swing or not.
Three days later I received a message over the telephone saying that since his last visit to me he had faithfully practiced the long swing 100 times in the morning and 100 times at night as I have advised. The results were good. He slept all through the night without waking up and without tossing about as he had been doing for so long a time. His wife remained awake purposely to watch the results and at other times, being a light sleeper, she would wake up to find her husband in the same position as he had placed himself before going to sleep.
My patient purchased a sun-glass from me and I directed his wife how to use it on his closed eyelids as he sat in the warm sunshine on his patio. In the beginning, when I first used the glass upon his closed eyelids he resented the treatment very much and the strain he was under while the sun glass was being used caused a considerable amount of tearing of the eyes. The patient feared the outcome of such treatment, but while the condition was made worse temporarily for a short period of time, it proved to be the best treatment in permanently curing his trouble.
Every day he became more accustomed to the sun-glass treatment and all during the summer while he was on his vacation, the sun treatment was given more frequently each day. A tent was used so that his body as well as his eyes could receive the sunshine. This proved to be a benefit to his general health as well. When he returned at the end of the summer, I was much surprised to see a change in the expression of his face. The sclera or the white part of each eye was as clear as mine and his eyes were wide open in a natural way.
He told me of the different things he tried each day for relaxation of the eyes and mind. His wife would read to him while his eyes were closed and he would construct mental pictures of what she was reading. At other times he would run and race with his pet dog, who could run much faster than he could and the dog would get quite a distance away from him. However, the wagging tail that he could see above the tall grass would always help him to find his pet and to run again with him. He said the wagging tail of the dog helped him to see things move opposite to the sway of his head and eyes. He said he had not realized how much of a strain he had caused his wife, who was at one time a carefree girl with a jolly disposition, but through his suffering had become a very serious person.
The gratitude of both my patient and his loyal wife was most profound and they have since then proved loyal friends to “Better Eyesight.” Many patients have come through them for treatment.