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June 1929

      Go to the Movies – Cataract – (Sinbad The Sailor, Goats) - Stories From The Clinic; 112. Itching of the Eyelids by Emily A. Bates (Parasites in Boys Eyes) – Questions and Answers



JUNE, 1929

Go To The Movies

(Editor’s Note. - Recently a great many letters have come from patients and others asking if the movies were injurious to the eyes. For the benefit of these inquirers we are reprinting an article which appeared in this magazine in October, 1920.)

Cinematograph pictures are commonly supposed to be very injurious to the eyes, and it is a fact that they often cause much discomfort and lowering of vision. They can, however, be made a means of improving the sight. When they hurt the eyes it is because the subject strains to see them. If this tendency to strain can be overcome, the vision is always improved, and if the practice of viewing the pictures is continued long enough, nearsight, astigmatism and other troubles are cured.
If your sight is imperfect, therefore, you will find it an advantage to go to the movies frequently and learn to look at the pictures without strain. If they hurt your eyes, look away to the dark for a while, then look at a corner of the picture; look away again, and then look a little nearer to the center: and so on. In this way you may soon become able to look directly at the picture without discomfort. If this does not help, try palming for five minutes or longer. Dodge the pain, in short, and prevent the eyestrain by constant shifting, or by palming.

Shift on objects; object to object, part to part, small point to small point. Shift on/see fine details clear. Blink, breathe abdominally and relax. Trace objects and parts of objects with the Imaginary Nosefeather. Bring an eye patch to the movies; Practice shifting, tracing, central fixation on the objects, parts of objects, people on the screen with both eyes, then with one eye at a time, then both eyes together again.
Then just relax, forget about the eyes and enjoy the movie.
Practice this shifting, tracing, central fixation… both eyes, one eye at a time, both eyes together again, on any objects in your environment; close and distant.
If one eye needs more vision improvement, practice a while longer with that eye. Often correcting less clear vision in one eye; clarity of vision, eyes movement for shifting, central fixation, switching close and far - convergence, divergence, accommodation, un-accommodation is all that is needed to bring the vision in both eyes to 20/20 and clearer. This is basic ‘Behavioral Optometry applied with the Bates Method’ and is often not emphasized enough in many vision improvement courses.
When switching close and far on objects is taught, Optometrists would forget to teach the person to also shift on the object the eyes are looking at. Shifting and central fixation on the objects must be done when switching, looking at close and far objects.


By W. H. Bates, M.D.

Sinbad the Sailor Story, How Goats Perform Their Own Cataract Operation

Sinbad the sailor told many stories of his voyages which have pleased some adults and many children. I wish to maintain that some of his experiences were true while many were not. On one of his voyages, when sailing in the tropics, a violent storm struck the ship and he was wrecked on the shores of an island in the Pacific Ocean. As usual, most of the sailors were drowned but Sinbad lived to return home and tell of the wonders he had seen.
It was related by him that the island was frequented by goats who were blind for a variable length of time. After a few days or weeks many of them recovered their sight, being cured in some way by a thorn bush which had large thorns. Sinbad watched them closely and discovered that each goat pushed each blind eye directly onto one of these thorns. After a few efforts the goat became able to see. How was it accomplished?
The cause of the blindness was the presence of an opaque body behind the pupil. This opaque body is a cataract. There are numerous operations for the cure of cataract but all are planned to move it to one side, above or below the optic axis so that the pupil appears perfectly clear and permits good sight. Eye doctors during the period when Sinbad flourished had no other cure for cataract except an operation such as the goat performed on his own eyes. It was done so easily, so quickly, and in most cases so successfully that many quacks or irregular practitioners who did not understand it failed to remove the cataract properly and the sight was not improved.
Sinbad wrote a very clear account of how the goats got rid of their cataracts. He told how a goat would, in his blindness, move his head and eyes about different parts of the thorn bush until he was able to push one of the thorns into his center of sight and push the opaque cataract out of the way.
Sinbad wrote a great deal about the failures. He described how in many of the goats which operated upon itself, foul matter would form and destroy one or both eyes. But when the goat did things right, the eyes healed without any bad symptoms whatever. Sinbad’s operation for the cure of cataract was described so long ago that there are still many doctors who claim that as they had never heard of Sinbad’s operation there never was such a person as Sinbad.
Modern physicians believe that the thorn is not the best instrument to use to remove the cataract in elderly people. Various and numerous operations have been recommended and practiced with good results.
An opacity of the crystalline lens which is sufficiently opaque to interfere with the vision is called a cataract. There are two kinds of cataract - hard and soft. The hard cataract occurs usually in adults. An operation for its removal is usually advised for an improvement in the sight. When the operation is done properly, the vision is usually permanently improved. After the operation is completed without accidents, strong glasses are prescribed, which increase the vision. Two pairs of strong glasses are used by the patient. One pair is to improve distant vision, while a second pair with much stronger glasses may be necessary for reading, sewing, or other close work. The Bates Method can improve vision without glasses after cataract operation and can reverse cataract and prevent the need for surgery.
Soft cataract occurs usually in children or in adults at the age of 45 or younger. One operation is called “needling,” in which a needle or very sharp knife penetrates a small part of the lens. A slight opacity of the lens may be seen for several days or longer, which usually causes no discomfort. It is customary to wait a few days or longer until the opacity made by the operation has disappeared. The operation is then repeated as before. By alternating in this way, the opacity of the lens becomes less after each needling until the cataract has disappeared altogether. The patient uses two pairs of glasses just the same as after the operation for the removal of a hard cataract.
Who were the earliest physicians? Who were the best doctors to cure the blindness of cataract? Barbers at an early date always bled their patients to cure any disease. Their motto was to bleed the patient until he was cured.
If the first bleeding failed it was considered good practice to bleed him some more. George Washington met his death at the hands of the barbers from too much bleeding. In the treatment of cataract in modern times we do things which are not always considered to be proper. At one of the best eye hospitals in this country patients suffering from severe pain and loss of sight have been bled from the temples and elsewhere and lost much blood that I considered unnecessary. While bleeding has apparently in some cases been a general benefit, this method of treatment is seldom indicated in a large number of patients.
Cataract occurs in a small percentage of persons with imperfect sight. One and the same method of treatment for all cases of cataract is not advised. It has been demonstrated and frequently published in this magazine that the cause of the opacity in the lens is a strain, a stare, an effort to see. When the strain is removed by relaxation methods, the cataract disappears and good or perfect sight is obtained without an operation of any kind. This being true, the removal of the cataract by some sort of an operation is the same as it would be to amputate the foot to cure rheumatism of the big toe.
People with cataract in one or both eyes may suffer from rheumatism, diabetes, bladder trouble, or other serious diseases which make it impossible for them to travel on land or water. Headache is sometimes continuous and of great severity. These patients may become bedridden and unable to walk without distress. The heart is often inflamed to such an extent that the slightest exertion brings on severe symptoms.
Some years ago a very intelligent Spaniard called to see me in reference to treatment of his wife who was a very sick woman and had been bedridden for many years. Her vision was very poor. She was unable to count her fingers when held in front of her face at a distance of two feet or more. The husband was told that it would be better for his wife to be cured of cataract while she was at home as the trip to New York would probably cause her so much discomfort that it would be very difficult to cure or improve her cataract by treatment. I told him that it would be possible for him to learn relaxation methods and have his wife practice them under his supervision. The fact that he himself had good sight would enable him to treat her more successfully than someone who had poor sight. He accepted my suggestion and told me that he would faithfully carry out any treatment which I might suggest.
The first thing I had him do was to:
+Read the Snellen test card at fifteen feet with each eye separately.
+Then he was directed to stand with his feet about one foot apart and to sway from side to side, while facing the Snellen test card. He learned how to do this very quickly. His attention was called to the fact that when the Snellen test card appeared to move in the opposite direction to the movement of his head, eyes and body, that the white card appeared whiter than it really was. The black letters also appeared much blacker and more distinct than when he did not practice the sway.
+He was then told to close his eyes and by opening and shutting them alternately, his vision improved.
+With his eyes closed he was able to imagine a small letter just as black as a large one and to imagine it better with his eyes closed than with his eyes open. When he imagined a small letter at the beginning of a line of letters perfectly black or as black as the larger letters, his vision improved to better than the average sight.
I examined his eyes with the retinoscope and found that the memory of imperfect sight caused the area of the pupil to appear blurred. When he strained or made an effort to improve his sight, the area of the pupil became very cloudy, the eyeballs became hard and the vision worse - a condition similar to that which occurs in cataract. This man was told that with his good sight he could at will increase the hardness of his good eyeballs more readily and lower his vision more readily than his wife who had cataract.
It is a truth that persons with normal eyes can produce imperfect sight at will to a greater degree than when the sight is imperfect from cataract. A large number of patients with cataract have been examined with the retinoscope at the same time that a strain is made to improve the sight. In all cases without exception the cataract became worse by an effort to see and the vision was still further lowered. Many persons with normal eyes were also examined at the same time. An effort to see better lowered the vision to a greater extent than occurred with the patients suffering from cataract.
It should be emphasized that a stare or strain is the principal cause of cataract. The retinoscope demonstrates that when an effort is made the cataract becomes worse. When the patient remembered or imagined letters or other objects the cloudiness and imperfect sight disappeared. An important point is the readiness with which an eye with good sight is able to produce imperfect sight while one with imperfect sight has great difficulty in straining sufficiently to increase it.
The husband was very much pleased because it seemed to him that there would be more difficulty in teaching his wife how to increase her cataract than to lessen or cure it. In due time I received a very grateful letter from him; he was much pleased to inform me that his wife had cured her cataract by my methods and after the cataract was cured, she became able to leave her bed. (She had been bedridden because of fear of walking about because of her poor eyesight.) The method was a benefit not only to her eyes but to her general health as well.

Man 106 Years Old - Vision Cured of Cataract by Bates Method

We have received many letters of inquiry from patients who have cataract who ask the questions: Can people eighty years of age be benefited? Which are the best methods of helping cataract? These questions were answered by the results of treatment in a man who was 106 years old. He came to the clinic with cataract so far advanced in each eye that he was unable, even with strong glasses, to read ordinary type. He was treated by rest of his eyes with the aid of shifting, swinging, memory, and imagination. After the first visit, he became able to read large print without glasses. His vision rapidly improved so that after some weeks of treatment, the cataract had disappeared and his vision for distance became normal. It was interesting to watch his cataract disappear while he was forming mental pictures of the white spaces between the lines of black letters.
Many patients with cataract who knew about this old man asked me how it was that he was cured in so short a time while many younger patients were not cured so quickly. The word obedience suggests that the reason this patient obtained so prompt and permanent a cure was because of his ability to obtain perfect relaxation of his eyes and mind as well as all the nerves of his body. For example, when he was told to close his eyes and keep them closed until told to open them, he did this thoroughly and well. Too many of my cataract patients do not practice central fixation as obediently as did my elderly patient.
So many people with cataract, when they close their eyes, feel that they are doing what they were told and cannot understand why they obtain so little benefit. Closing the eyes is not always followed by relaxation and rest. In short, there are many patients with cataract who strain their eyes more when they are closed than they do when they regard letters and objects with their eyes open. These patients are directed to practice the universal swing, the long swing, the variable swing and other methods of obtaining relaxation. One of the best methods of lessening cataract is to encourage the patient to regard a blank wall of one color. When the eyes are examined at the same time, it is usually found that the cataract has become less because the eye is not straining to see any one particular object.
Some cases of cataract acquire the ability to read without glasses very fine print held a few inches from the face. When such patients are recommended to read the fine print many hours daily, the cataract becomes less and the vision improves. The practice of regarding fine print or other small objects is one of the best methods of curing cataract.

Itching Of The Eyelids

& Presbyopia

By Emily A. Bates

Itching of the eyelids is sometimes a difficult thing to relieve. When a patient is troubled that way, Dr. Bates usually prescribes a salve and eyewash or eye drops to relieve the condition. Usually, such applications help, but there are times when a patient is troubled for a long period without much or any relief.
A middle-aged woman came to me in a highly nervous state and told me that she had been to several doctors, but they could only give her temporary relief. The doctors had given her exactly the same prescription that Dr. Bates usually prescribes for such a condition. Before coming to me as a last resort, she tried wearing dark glasses, thinking that she would find relief that way. Wearing the dark glasses indoors only aggravated her trouble, but while she was in the sunshine she felt relief most of the time.
She was a business woman and managed a summer hotel which kept her indoors most of the day. She was called upon at times to do some bookkeeping and after she had worn the dark glasses for a while, she discovered that she could no longer see at the near point. The last doctor whom she had called upon diagnosed her case as presbyopia, but he did not say what had caused it. He told her that at her age she had to expect a change in the condition of her eyes. He advised her to wear the glasses he prescribed for her only when it was absolutely necessary, and if that would not help to come and see me.
I had benefited the wife of this doctor and I am greatly disappointed that I did not have an opportunity to meet him before I left the West where I was taking care of patients. I tested the patient’s vision for the distance and she read 15/15 with much effort and squinting of her eyes. She squinted her eyes most of the time in order to see without discomfort. I gave her the Fundamental card to read. The type on this card starts with larger than ordinary reading type and ends with diamond type, which is much finer than ordinary type. She held this card at arm’s length and then drew back her head as far as she could in order to read the diamond type on the card. She could not understand how I could bring back her sight to the normal by our method of eye training. Before she came to me she believed that proper glasses would eventually relieve her of all her trouble, but that she would have to wear glasses at all times as long as she lived.
After a doctor friend of mine had examined her eyes, and diagnosed her case as presbyopia caused by strain, he asked me to examine her eyes with his retinoscope and verify his statement. The itching and burning of her eyelids had nothing to do with her sight. Sun treatment sometimes instantly relieves itching of the eyelids and also does more sometimes than medicine applied to the eyes. I placed my patient in the sun and while her eyes were closed I focused the strong light of the sun on her closed eyelids with the aid of the sun glass. This was done so quickly that the patient did not realize what I was doing.
Immediately after I used the sun glass I placed my hand before her closed eyelids to shade her eyes from the sun. Then I placed myself between my patient and the direct rays of the sunlight and asked her to open her eyes. She began to blink in a natural way as she looked at me and remarked how differently everything looked about her. She sighed with a sense of relief and asked me to do it again.
The second time I applied the sun glass she could stand the strong rays of the sun for about a minute and then I again placed myself between the sunlight and my patient’s eyes. Again I told her to open her eyes and look at me, but this time I held the Fundamental card before her, about twelve inches from her eyes. She read Number 3 or the third sentence on the card and then her eyelids began to itch again. The sun treatment was repeated for an hour, while she alternately read the Fundamental card and she read two more sentences, without noticing that she was gradually reading smaller type.
The patient was pleased with her first treatment and came daily for a week and each time her vision improved for the near point and the itching and burning of the eyelids became less.
We seldom advise patients about the amount of water that they drink, or the kind of food that they eat, but this patient had brought up the subject herself. My experience for many years with clinic patients has taught me much about the mistakes people make in eating the wrong food and not drinking sufficient water. I feel quite sure that my patient’s assistance and intelligence about eating unseasoned foods and drinking a large quantity of water every day helped to cure the irritation and discomfort of her eyes.
I did not cure this patient in a week’s time but at the end of one week’s treatment, after I had seen her for the last time, the presbyopia was entirely cured and she read microscopic type in bright sunlight as well as she could read ordinary type at six inches from her eyes. When reading microscopic type, she had to have a strong, artificial light, or place herself directly in the sunlight in order to read it. By looking at the white spaces of the diamond type, which is a little larger than microscopic type, she became able to see the white spaces between the lines of microscopic type and in this way, she was able to read it.
Like most people who have trouble with their eyes, she seldom blinked, which she thought was an affliction instead of a natural thing to do. While I did not like the discomfort that staring caused me, I purposely stared or blinked less frequently than I ordinarily do, as she stood before me. It helped her to understand how necessary it was to blink often and to do it continuously, in order to form the unconscious habit of blinking, when she no longer had trouble with her eyes. She noticed that when I blinked my eyes that the eyes moved slightly and when she began to practice this, she said that the burning of her eyes and itching became less. She made a mask from a large linen handkerchief and only exposed her eyes when she placed herself in the sun. She would sit in the sunshine for an hour at a time each day while her eyes troubled her. At the end of seven days, giving her daily treatment, her trouble disappeared entirely.
On the seventh day, I returned the dark glasses which she had placed in my possession, so that she would not be tempted at any time to wear them while under treatment. I asked her to put them on while she was sitting in the sun and tell me how she felt with them on. She said it seemed as though the world had become dark, without any sunlight. While she was talking to me, the discomfort she felt while the glasses were on was such that she threw them off quickly and said she did not want to use them again.

There comes to my mind a clinic case which I would like to report now. A woman who seemed fairly well dressed brought her little boy to the clinic and as he appeared before me, I noticed how shabbily he was dressed. His hair looked as though it had not been combed for many days and from the appearance of his little hands it seemed to me that soap was almost an unknown thing to him. The poor little fellow was about eight years of age or perhaps younger.
While I was giving my attention to some of the children who were having their eyes tested with the test cards, he came close to me and watched every move I made. His mother was holding his hand and as he moved closer to me, she drew him away, none too gently. A thought passed through my mind instantly that surely this was not his mother. He looked so shabby and dirty and she looked just the opposite. Dr. Bates placed him in the little dark room where all the patients had their eyes examined and after he had finished examining the little fellow’s eyes, he called my attention to the condition of his eyelids, which I had not noticed before.
His eyesight was normal. There was nothing wrong with the retina, but the cornea and sclera or the white parts of his eyes were much inflamed. The eyelids of both eyes were much mattered. Dr. Bates asked him what his greatest trouble was and he said his eyes itched all the time and even at night the itching prevented him from sleeping. Dr. Bates questioned the little boy’s mother and asked her how long he had had this trouble. She said she had noticed him rubbing his eyes for a few weeks or longer, but did not pay any attention to it until his school teachers sent him home to be examined by the Doctor.
We placed him in a good light and as the Doctor focused his magnifying glass on the eyelids, he drew back suddenly and asked me not to touch the boy’s eyes. On a slip of paper, the Doctor wrote the word “parasites.” The mother became enraged when the Doctor diagnosed the case as such. My heart went out to the little fellow. I did want to take him away from a mother who cared so little for her child. Dr. Bates advised the mother not to have anyone else use his towel or wash cloth and he directed her further to use an eye wash he prescribed and a salve to be applied afterward and to come regularly every clinic day until he was rid of his trouble.
Apparently the directions for his treatment at home meant time and attention which she did not care to give for the little fellow. Before we realized what had happened, the mother had left the clinic and we did not see her or her little boy again. We reported this case to someone in authority at the clinic who was to send a social worker to the home of the little boy. What became of the case we could never find out, but for the sake of any child who may be afflicted or become afflicted as this little boy was, I decided to tell about this case, so that mothers of public school children who might possibly read this article will know what to do to help their children.

If the mother cannot afford to visit a physician at his office, she can always find a competent one at any eye clinic and receive treatment with permanent benefit. Sometimes through no fault of the mother or child, a thing like this happens and it seems out of nowhere that this contagious thing strikes even the cleanest and well cared for children. The itching in this condition is terrific. If the trouble is noticed and looked after in time, it can be easily cured by treatment. As Dr. Bates explained this condition to me, he said that he did not believe that he nor any doctor can tell where such things originate. We do know, however, that cleanliness helps to eliminate the trouble.

Questions And Answers

Q - After palming for ten minutes or longer, my eyes are rested, but I feel sleepy.
A - The palming is not perfect. Try imagining stationary objects to be moving when you palm.

Q - Are memory and imagination the same? When we remember an object do we have to visualize it?
A – A perfect memory cannot be obtained unless you are able to imagine that you see or visualize what you remember.

Q - Please give me a simple demonstration or example of the swing. I cannot see objects moving when I know they are stationary.
A - When you ride in a railroad train which is traveling fast, and look out that window, you may see the telegraph poles and other objects moving in the opposite direction.

Q - My little son, four years old, becomes fidgety while palming. Do you prescribe something else equally beneficial?
A - Your little son may become able to palm for a few minutes at a time. Swaying from side to side usually helps.

Q - How can one overcome the stare if it is unconscious?
A - Blink consciously, whenever possible, especially when reading. Never look at an object for more than a few seconds at a time. Shift your gaze.

Q - (a) My eyes are swollen and disfigured in the morning. (b) Although I have eight and nine hours' sleep, it does not rest me.
A - (a) The swelling of your eyes or eyelids in the morning is due to eyestrain when you are asleep.
Read chapter in my book on this subject. (b) You may be restless and sleep very poorly and strain your eyes terribly, although apparently you may be asleep for a long time.

Q - When palming and remembering black, is it advisable to keep the image stationary and to keep the same image, or is it just as good to shift from one object to another?
A - When palming and remembering black, one should imagine everything remembered to be moving and not stationary. It is necessary to shift from one image or from one object to another.

Q - What is most helpful when one is very nearsighted and finds it almost impossible to see without glasses?
A - Practice palming as frequently as possible every day. Keeping the eyes closed whenever convenient for five minutes ten times a day is also helpful.