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May 1929 

                                                                    Shifting – Treatment – Case Reports - Stories From The Clinic; 111. Eye Injuries by Emily A. Bates



MAY, 1929


When the normal eye has normal sight it is at rest and when it is at rest it is always moving or shifting. Shifting may be done consciously with improvement in the vision, or it may be done unconsciously with impaired vision.

Shifting can be practiced correctly and incorrectly.

+A wrong way to shift is to turn the head to the right while the eyes are turned to the left, or to turn the head to the left while the eyes are turned to the right.

+Correct way = Eyes, head/face, body move together, synchronized, at the same time, in the same direction.

To improve imperfect sight by shifting, it is well to move the head and eyes so far away that the first letter or object imagined is too far away to be seen at all clearly. Shifting from small letters to large letters alternately may be a greater benefit than shifting from one small letter to another small letter. Quite frequently the vision is decidedly improved by shifting continuously from one side of a small letter to the other side, while the letter is imagined to be moving in the opposite direction. When the shifting is slow, short, and easy, the best results in the improvement in the vision are obtained.
The eye also moves quick, very fast (Saccadic) and this occurs automatically. Any attempt to stop the shifting always lowers the vision. The letter or other object which appeared to move is usually shifting a short distance – one half or one quarter of an inch. It is not possible to imagine any particular letter or other object stationary for a longer time than one minute.
Strain, blur begins when the eyes have not moved after a fraction of a second to one second.
While the patient is seated, benefit can be obtained from shifting, but even more benefit can be obtained when the shifting is practiced while the patient is standing and moving the head and shoulders, in fact the whole body, a very short distance from side to side. (The Sway, Rock) Shifting the whole body makes it easier to shift a short distance and may explain why this method is best.

It is easy to see letters on a eyechart clear when shifting easily on the letters while doing the sway a short distance left and right.
Blink, sway, relax.


By W. H. Bates, M.D.

Vision is largely associated with the activity of the mind. The memory, imagination, must be nearly perfect for the vision to be nearly perfect. When the memory is imperfect, the imagination and sight are always imperfect. There are no exceptions.

In MYOPIA, or short sight, (unclear distant vision) the eyeball is elongated. Myopia can be produced by a stare, concentration, or an effort to see distant objects. When all objects are regarded with an effort to see more than two parts perfectly at the same time, myopia is always produced. (Shift from part to part, seeing one part at a time perfect, clearest produces clear vision) To do the wrong thing, a strain or effort is made. The greater the strain, the more imperfect becomes the vision. To do the wrong thing requires much trouble, hard work, and a useless effort. The production of myopia is not easy. Rather it is difficult. This truth, when demonstrated by the patient, is important. It demonstrates the cause of myopia and when the cause of myopia is known, treatment can usually be suggested which helps in the cure.
The production of improved or perfect sight is easy. Rest or the absence of strain is helpful in obtaining normal vision.
When the sight is normal, the eye is at rest. Any effort to improve the sight is wrong, always fails, and the vision soon becomes less. Perfect sight is easy and is not benefited by strong efforts to improve the sight. Myopia is cured by the efforts which are not made, rather than by strong efforts to see. Most people with myopia are not conscious of the stare, strain, or effort. Persons with normal sight are often able successfully to demonstrate the existence of strain in myopia and to suggest successful methods of treatment for the prevention of strain.
One method of treatment has been practiced consciously, continuously, and successfully, namely: “Make the sight worse by a strong effort to stare.” The imperfect sight of myopia does not come easily by staring. When it does come the patient feels a manifest strain in his head and all his nerves. By alternately producing the stare consciously and unconsciously he realizes the harm it can produce. He becomes acquainted with the stare. By practice, he becomes able to produce it to any extent and at all times.
Imperfect sight is difficult and normal or improved sight is easy and enables most people with myopia to obtain a cure in a very short time. It should be known that high degrees of myopia are not always easy to produce. It is a truth that quick cures of myopia can only be obtained by persons who have the ability to make the myopia worse.
Some statistics on the production of myopia in school children and others show that 10 percent of the population are myopic, 80 percent have imperfect sight from other causes, and 10 percent have normal sight. Some statistics state that 50 percent of the population of China and about the same percentage in Japan have acquired myopia by improper use of their eyes. What is improper use of the eyes, and what is known of the cause of myopia in these countries? They are a book-reading people to such a slight extent that we need not consider the use of books in the daily life of the Chinese. No one can say that the Chinese have acquired imperfect sight from reading. The characters of the books that they do possess are very large compared to our print and that used in other countries. Many writers have stated that fine print is a strain on the eyesight, and is the cause of myopia; the Chinese use very large print and there is no nation in the world that has so much myopia! Large print instead of being a rest to the eyes is a great strain.
    Some years ago, a prominent ophthalmologist of Cleveland was told to introduce in the public schools books printed in very large type. After a short time, the teachers complained to the authorities that the large print hurt the eyes of the children and increased the production of myopia and made so much trouble that they requested that the new books be discarded and books with finer print be used again. This is offered as evidence that myopia does not result from the reading of fine print. Fine print, instead of being the cause of nearsightedness, is the best preventative that one can use. One should not stare at the letters of fine print, but rather, he should take a break and look at the white spaces between the lines, look to other objects, then, when the eyes are relaxed, look back to the fine print. Blink, relax, shift on/along the words or through the center of the words as the sentences are read. Look at the white spaces or distant objects to rest the eyes, then back to the print. In this way the print is seen without strain.
The Snellen test card can be used in various ways to improve the vision. The best distance of the card from the patient is variable. Some patients with a high degree of myopia will improve more when the card is read at a short distance, five feet or less. Other patients prefer to have the test card at a greater distance from their eyes and they improve their vision more when they practice with the card at a long distance off - twenty-five, thirty, or, forty feet. The optimum distance of the card from the patient is the distance at which the best results are obtained. To imagine the card to be moving, when held in front of the patient, who at the same time sways from side to side, is usually beneficial. After a little practice, when the patient sways from side to side, the card may be imagined to be moving about four to six inches from side to side. If the card seems to sway a very short distance or not at all, it usually means that the patient is staring, straining, or trying to see.
One should avoid looking directly at the Snellen test card, because then the movement of the card becomes uncertain or disappears altogether. A long movement of the card from side to side can be shortened with an improvement in the vision. When the patient stands with the feet about one foot apart and sways from side to side, without looking directly at the card, the letters may be seen to move in the same or in the opposite direction.
The correct result is for the letters to move opposite – ‘oppositional movement’. If a object is in front of the card, closer to you, the card, letters appear to move with, in the same direction as the eyes, head, body. The shorter the sway, the shorter the oppositional movement.
Sometimes practice with the card will be followed by double or multiple vision, due to the fact that the patient stares, strains, and makes an effort to see the letters. For example, one patient saw one line of letters multiplied two or three times. This would not have occurred if the patient had imagined the card moving slightly from side to side, and had not tried to see the letters. Palming, when practiced successfully, has relieved many cases of double vision. Some letters, objects appear double, triple as the blur and any underlying astigmatism is removed and the brain, eye muscles relax, left and right brain hemispheres work together, correct with eyes, eye muscles.
Some patients, when they palm, see flashes of light and all the colors of the spectrum, without at any time seeing black. It is strange to hear patients complain of the numerous objects they remember or imagine when they palm. Thinking of pleasant things has helped some people to palm more successfully. The memory of imperfect sight is a strain and should not be practiced when palming. The length of time that patients can palm with benefit is widely variable. Some patients have gone to sleep while palming and when they awakened in the morning they were still palming, with their hand covering their eyes, with the result that their vision was very much improved. Others obtain more benefit from palming for short periods of time at frequent intervals.

The Thin White Line

If one can imagine a thin white line below letters of the test card or beneath a line of fine print it is very helpful. This thin white line is only imagined, it is not seen, because the line is not really there. It is valuable in the treatment and cure of presbyopia, hypermetropia, astigmatism and many cases of myopia. It is well to imagine it in the right way. The wrong way is to try to imagine the thin white line and the black letters at the same time. This is a strain which always blurs the black letters and prevents the thin white line from being imagined. It is actually seen, it appears and is a beneficial illusion.
Many patients complain that they have difficulty in imagining the thin white line. To overcome this, one should imagine it just below some word or collection of words which are known. The line is then readily imagined and it can be imagined extending from one side of the page to the other, and wherever it becomes manifest the vision is always improved. One can read rapidly, clearly, and without discomfort, when he is conscious of the thin white line, but to fix the black letters and expect to read them is a mistake which very few teachers or students have observed. The fact that one cannot read properly when looking at the black letters should be more widely known. Much time has been lost in the class room by teachers trying to force the children to look directly at the blackness of the black letters. When black letters are regarded and seen best, much pain, discomfort, or imperfect sight is experienced: If staring, squinting, effort, diffusion to see the letters clear is used.
One cannot be sure when imagining the thin white line that the eyes are directed toward it. When one plans to look at the thin white line and while trying to read something feels discomfort or pain, it means that the eyes are not directed on the thin white line as the reader may imagine.

Bates writing about the white spaces, thin white line is a bit confusing. Modern teachers state; to see a letter, object clear; look directly at it. I believe Bates means for the person to be able to see the thin white line by looking directly at it, shifting back and forth from the letters to the white line, to the letters again… To shift to the black letters, look directly at them, move the eyes (visual  attention) on the letters to read, see them clear. No staring at the white line/spaces, no staring at the letters. Let the eyes shift, move, blink, relax.
Modern teachers have removed many of Bates paragraphs concerning the white spaces and thin white line.
They are left in this book so the reader can obtain Dr. Bates original work.
In other issues of Better Eyesight Magazine Dr. Bates gives these modern directions.
      The blue print on this website is by Clark Night to explain Modern versions of the methods.
Just remember; when you want to see the thin white line or white spaces; look directly at them. ‘Central Fixation.’ Shift on them.
If you want to see/read the black letters; look directly at the black letters. ‘Central fixation.’ Shift, move the eyes along the sentence.
The white spaces and line will also appear in the peripheral field when reading the black print in the center of the visual field and when shifting from sentence to sentence, spaces to words, words to spaces.
The white line, white glow also appears around blue, green and other colored letters and on other colored paper/backgrounds.
See the white glow on the blue sky above mountains, trees. Shift back and forth on the mountains, trees and sky and see the glow flash. The glow can also be seen around a person, especially the head. It can be different colors. Scientists, religions state a aura, energy field can appear.

It is well for each patient to test his ability to concentrate, stare at on one point of a large letter or of a small letter. In less than a minute the patient suffers fatigue, pain, imperfect sight. When concentration causes trouble, common sense would suggest that the concentration be avoided. Shift from point to point for clear vision.
Most cases of imperfect sight are cured by relaxation - relaxation of the mind, relaxation of the nerves of the head and of all other parts of the body. The importance of the control of relaxation is very great, because most diseases of the eyes are caused by the stare or strain and cannot be cured until the stare or strain is relieved.

Case Reports

A girl, twelve years of age, was brought to the office by her mother who complained that her daughter was suffering from a high degree of progressive myopia, and that her glasses had to be changed quite frequently because of this fact. She said that she did not want to buy any more glasses because each pair had to be changed after a few months. When I tested her glasses, I found that she was wearing Concave 12 D.S. After she had been under treatment for some time, her mother said that the girl did not see the Snellen test card, but that she committed it to memory. To satisfy the mother and to obtain some facts, I showed the daughter a strange card. Although it was placed more than fifteen feet away, she read every letter correctly, much to the surprise of the mother.
When the daughter was asked how she did it, all she said was ''Starch.'' The mother asked her why she answered so queerly. Then I told the mother that I had trained the girl to improve her sight by the use of a perfect imagination or memory. When she remembered or imagined things perfectly she always had perfect sight. She must have remembered the starch perfectly white in order to become able by the memory of starch to see the letters on the strange card perfectly. The mother then said to me: "I wish you would speak to her about the way she goes downstairs; she runs down three steps at a time and I am very much afraid that she will stumble and hurt herself.'' I spoke to the girl about this and she told me that while she was going downstairs, three steps at a time, she remembered a piece of white starch. The memory of the starch gave her a perfect balance so that she was always certain of the steps that she took. The memory of starch or a white handkerchief freshly laundered has helped other people to improve their vision immediately.
A man, aged 51, had worn glasses for hypermetropia and for reading for 20 years. Without glasses his vision at fifteen feet was 15/200. He was told to imagine a thin white line between the white spaces of the Fundamental card. In about five minutes the patient became able to remember or imagine a thin white line when regarding the white spaces between the lines of black letters. By repetition and some patience he became able to read diamond type at six inches. After this was accomplished, his vision for distance became normal and he read the bottom line without trouble at fifteen feet.

Eye Injuries

By Emily A. Bates

It is not always easy to treat a case where the sight has become impaired through an accident or injury to the eye. I have in mind particularly two patients who came to me recently, and who at one time had had normal vision.
One was a young man, 23 years of age, who had been to several doctors for treatment during a period of ten years, and as he explained his case to me, I realized how despondent he was, fearing that he would go blind completely. He was thirteen years of age when he was taken on a long automobile trip, at which time the accident occurred. Being far away from civilization, it was some time before he was able to receive medical aid, and during that time his vision became very poor in both eyes. Some of the occupants of the car were instantly killed. He was found pinned under the overturned car, some days after the accident and after he had recovered consciousness he found that he could not see well. His head had been cut very badly and the doctors feared that internal injuries on his head and other parts of his body would prove fatal, and for a time it was thought that he would lose his mind as well as his sight. When he came to me, there was a scar on his forehead directly over each eye, but otherwise he showed no outward signs of injury.
He had received a different kind of treatment from every doctor who had treated him with the result that he did not go blind entirely. He got along very well with the aid of glasses for a time and then cataract began to form in each eye. An operation was advised but the boy refused to submit to this. Friends cared for him and helped him with his education but his sight was too poor to aid him in doing any kind of work which would require the use of his eyes. He stopped going to doctors for help because each one who had treated him advised an operation for the removal of cataract, with the exception of the last doctor who had given him medical treatment. This doctor knows Dr. Bates very well and has from time to time cured headaches and other pain by the Bates method, although he is not an eye specialist.
At the advice of this doctor, the boy came to me for treatment while I was in the West. The cataract could easily be seen by the naked eye, but there was a small spot about the size of the head of a pin in the retina which was clear. Not being allowed to use my retinoscope in California, in the absence of a doctor, I asked him to bring me a written statement from a specialist who had given him a thorough examination of his eyes. He replied that he had already been to one and explained that the doctor had said that there was no hope of his ever regaining his sight. He gave me a written report from a few of the doctors who had examined him and each one had given him a different diagnosis, but all of them said there was no hope of his ever seeing again, unless he submitted to an operation, which would probably be useless.
Sometimes I have to spend a considerable amount of time convincing a patient that I can really help him, if he can have enough confidence in what I am able to do, but this young man did not need any explanation, for I seemed to be his last hope. He did not ask me for an opinion, but just came at the advice of his family physician. He felt that I really could help him if there were any chance at all.
I placed a large test card five feet from his eyes. I thought I would use the black card with white letters first, because this card seems easier for the partially blind patient, or those patients who have diseases of the eye, such as glaucoma, atrophy of the optic nerve, and so forth. Before I placed the card in position at five feet I had told him to close his eyes to rest them because all the while he had been in my presence, he stared hard to see me and seldom blinked his eyes. I placed the test card with the blank side of the test card facing him. There was only a plain white surface to look at and I was hoping that he would see it as it really was. When he opened his eyes, at my suggestion, he was waiting for me to tell him what to do while he looked at the blank side of this card. I asked him if he could see any letters on the card and he said, “No, it seems like a blank white paper.”
I was pleased that he saw the card as it really was, without my telling him. I told him to close his eyes immediately and while his eyes were closed, I turned the card right side up. I told him to open his eyes and tell me what he saw. He was able to read three lines of the test card immediately. I encouraged him then and told him that if he were willing to sacrifice his time that I surely would give him my time to help him to improve the little vision he had.
After he palmed and improved his memory by reciting history, which was his favorite subject at school, he read the card again for me, and this time his vision improved to 5/30. I gave him a test card to practice with at home and told him to report to me in a few days’ time.
Seven months later he came again for treatment. His eyes looked much better and his face showed signs of relaxation, which were absent at his first visit. I tested his sight again with the same black card with white letters and his vision had improved to 5/20. He reported that he had practiced two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening every day since his first visit. He remembered what I had said to him about blinking his eyes consciously all the time in order to avoid the stare which made the cataract worse.
I placed him by a window and told him to look across the street where there was a large sign with letters that looked to be about three feet in height. He said he could not read any signs from the window. I gave him a fine print card to hold in his hand and he looked at the white spaces below the lines of black type that were on the small card. I told him to look at the white spaces and then to close his eyes and to imagine the white whiter than he saw it on the card. He did this alternately for about five minutes and when he looked out of the window to where this large sign was, he began to see the letters one by one by quickly looking away, after seeing each letter as I directed him, and taking the sun treatment as he stood by the window, which I thought would help him. Without giving him notice, I told him to turn around with his back to the light and to look at the test card which was five feet away, and he read another line of the test card at 5/15.
I gave him the Fundamental card to read, but all he could see was sentence Number 1 and the words “Fundamentals by W. H. Bates, M.D.” All the rest of the card was a blur to him. He knew there were words on the card, but he could not distinguish them.
Not far away from my office there was a public park where he would sit for hours at a time to take sun treatment. The warmth of the western sun is the most healing thing in the world in cases where the sun is helpful. I can prove it by this particular case, because the next time my patient came, he was able to read the whole of the Fundamental card up to sentence Number 15, which is in diamond type. He did not read it immediately as one with normal sight would have done, but with many hours of patience on my part and with the aid of the sun-glass treatment in between times he finally read it. Sometime later he came for another treatment and this time he read the microscopic type I gave him, which is a reproduction of that contained in the small Bible. He read this type at nine inches from his eyes. I then tested his sight for the large test card and his vision had improved to 7/20, and later 7/15 by palming and the long swing.
He left the West for other parts and I did not see him again but I received a letter sometime later, saying that he was still practicing with the test card and also with the fine type every day. After that, however, I lost track of him. There is not much satisfaction in treating a case like that unless we can cure it, but I hope that wherever he is that he is still keeping up with the Bates treatment and receiving benefit. At any rate, I was very much encouraged to know that the Bates Method helped when all else failed, and that I was able to improve his vision, instead of saying as others had said to him that there was no more hope.

The other case which was interesting to me was a young man, twenty years old, who had started to wear glasses at the age of ten years. He had been playing with some boys near a building that was being torn down and without realizing it the boys were playing near a section of a wall which was about to come down. It finally did tumble down and buried them under a mass of debris. The boy’s glasses were broken and the right eye was severely injured, having been cut by the broken glass.
His father was a physician and he took him to various eye specialists in the hope that the left eye could be saved. For some time the left eye was discharging and he almost lost the sight of it. With medical treatment and care the discharge ceased and apparently there seemed to be nothing wrong with his left eye. He strained terribly in daylight, but at night he had very little trouble in seeing things. Since the accident he had acquired the habit of turning his head to one side and squeezing the lids of his right eye together tightly, in order to see with the left.
Before I tested his sight with the test card he told me that there was a dead nerve in the left eye which was caused by the injury to the right eye—at least he was told by the eye specialists that this was so. After the accident he said that he had had an attack of malaria, and then keratitis settled in both eyes. At the age of fifteen he suffered a great deal of pain in his right eye and was treated for iritis.
After listening to all he had to say, I tested his sight. He could only see the large letter “C” of the test card at six inches from his right eye. Everything else was a blank to him. His vision with the left eye was 15/20, and all the letters were clear and black. In order to read with the left eye, he turned his head to one side. I told him to palm and reminded him that he must not remove his hands from his eyes while I was talking to him. I told him that no matter what the diagnosis was or how bad his sight was that he could at least see something on the test card with his right eye and that I did not believe that there was anything radically wrong with his left eye. If there were, he could not have seen the 20 line letters of the card at fifteen feet.
I gave him some sun treatment after he had palmed a little while and then told him to palm again before I tested his sight the second time. I felt that it was necessary for him to close his eyes and palm after being in the bright sunlight.
This poor fellow had quite a story to tell me and I had a strong desire to become better acquainted with him and help him in other ways besides improving his sight. He was not a nice looking boy and neither was he clean. He did not wear a coat or vest and he had no hat with him when he came. His shoes were soiled and much worn and he looked as though he had not received much affection or care for a long time. He was short in his answers and when he looked at me, he would just look for a moment and then look away. I told him that I believed that he was far away from his home, but that he was not the only one, and that I was three thousand miles away from my home too.
While he was palming, I noticed a tear drop on the front of his shirt and then I encouraged him to tell me all about everything that was on his mind. I told him I wanted to be his friend if he would let me. He told me that he was sad and lonely too and that his family no longer cared about him. He said that it was his own fault, of course, but a strict father whose confidence he never had made it hard for him to live at home. He said that he did not know what was the matter with him, but that he could never hold a job for any length of time. He knew there was something wrong with him but he did not know how to become better and he had no one to guide him.
I asked him if he had a home somewhere and he said “Yes.” He said that a distant relative had befriended him and given him a place to sleep. What I had to say to him that day helped, I know, because the next time he came his shoes were cleaned, his top shirt had been washed and ironed and his face and hands were clean. We became friends after that and up to the last week of my stay in the West, I helped him with his sight and in other ways. As his vision improved, he obtained a position in an office which paid him a fair salary. Every day he arose early in the morning to practice with the test card and before retiring at night he practiced again. During the day he remembered what I had advised him to do with the small pocket test card and microscopic type. He practiced the long swing and palming which always helped to improve his sight, and on the last day I saw him his right eye had improved to the 50 line of the test card, as he held the card at two feet from his eyes. His left eye improved to 12/10 which is more than normal vision.
I have had no further report from this patient, but I am confident that he has not forgotten what to do to avoid the loss of vision in his right eye.
If this patient I have written about reads this article, he will know who I mean. I hope that if at any time he visits New York he will come to see me if he needs more help for his eyes.