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Improve Your Sight - Amblyopia
- Stories From The Clinic; 116. Amblyopia by Emily A. Bates - Notice – Questions and Answers
A MONTHLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED TO THE PREVENTION AND CURE OF
IMPERFECT SIGHT WITHOUT GLASSES
When convenient, practice the long
swing. Stand with the feet about one foot apart, turn the body to the right, at the same time lifting the heel of the left
foot. The head and eyes move with the body. Now place
the left heel on the floor, turn the body to the left, raising the heel
of the right foot. Alternate.
+ Rest your eyes continually by blinking. The normal eye blinks irregularly but continuously.
When convenient, practice blinking in the following way: Count irregularly and blink for each count. By consciously
correctly, it will in time become an unconscious habit.
+ When the mind is awake it is thinking of many things. One can
remember things perfectly or imagine things perfectly, which is a rest to the eyes, mind, and the body generally.
of imperfect sight should be avoided because it is a strain and lowers the vision.
Read the Snellen test card at
20 feet with each eye, separately, twice daily or oftener when convenient. Imagine the white spaces in letters to be whiter
than the rest of the card. Do this alternately with the eyes
closed and opened. Plan to imagine the white spaces in letters
just as white, in looking at the Snellen test card, as can be accomplished with the eyes closed.
close your eyes for a few minutes and rest them. Palming.
Sunning. Go outside and expose the eyes, skin to Full Spectrum
Dim, low, no vision in one or both eyes.
Usually occurs with squint or advanced eye problems but can occur alone.
By W. H. BATES, M.D.
the sight is poor and cannot be improved promptly by glasses, the cause is usually due to amblyopia. The word amblyopia means
blindness. In amblyopia the vision is less in the region of the center of sight. One cannot have imperfect sight without having
at the same time a measure of poor vision in which all parts of the field are involved. It seems curious that it is possible
for the most sensitive part of the retina to become blind while other parts of the retina have considerable vision, better,
in fact, than the vision obtained by the activity of the center of sight.
Some cases of amblyopia cannot count fingers.
Many others have no perception of light and yet, strange to say, the advanced cases can oftentimes be cured just as quickly
as other cases in which the vision is only slightly lowered. Some cases of amblyopia may have poor vision at a distance of
fifteen or twenty feet, a similar reduced vision at six inches or less, but at ten feet the vision may be nearly normal.
In most cases of amblyopia the field of vision
is usually very small. Sometimes the letters regarded at fifteen feet appear to be blood red while other letters regarded
at three feet may seem to be brown or to have a tint of green or some other color. The perception of colors varies greatly
at different distances. Red may look like green when the card is regarded at fifteen feet or farther—yellow may give
one the appearance of blue.
For many years color blindness has usually been considered incurable, but since amblyopia
and color blindness are usually found together, the treatment which helps or improves the sight without glasses also benefits
the color blindness. The reverse is also true; when color blindness is benefited the amblyopia becomes less.
is a truth that staring, concentration, causes imperfect sight, any treatment which relieves strain should always improve
the sight or improve the vision in amblyopia and color blindness. A great many lives have been lost as a result of acquired
color blindness. A patient with imperfect sight was brought to my office by his family physician with a history of having
run into another automobile while driving his own car. When I tested his vision with the Snellen test card, I found it to
The patient was very much upset and said in his defense to me: "Doctor, I never saw that automobile."
A good deal of time was spent in demonstrating that the patient had acquired amblyopia which was so complete that he really
did not see the other car, but the blindness had lasted for such a short time that it was not an easy matter to prove that
he had an attack of temporary blindness or an attack of amblyopia.
This phenomena has occurred very often to locomotive
engineers who would state after an accident that they had suddenly gone blind for a short time and when they were blind they
did not see the danger signals.
One patient, a sea captain,
told me that he believed that for his own safety and that of his passengers he ought to give up his occupation because he
was having more and more frequent attacks of imperfect sight from amblyopia. At one time his vision was very good and he had
no trouble whatsoever in seeing a lighthouse on the shore many miles away, but recently he had attacks of blindness which
prevented him from recognizing the officers and sailors on his ship.
popularity of the airplane has increased in recent years. Every once in a while a report is published of some flying machine
failing to the earth and causing many deaths, because of attacks of sudden blindness suffered by the pilots. An aviator once
visited me for relief. He said that some years previous he had been very much concerned about the action of his machine. The
machine would start to fall, but would stop before reaching the ground. He lost control of it in the beginning, although he
was positive that he acquired control again. After he had rested for a month or more, he still had the attacks of temporary
blindness which cause him to lose control of the plane, although they were not so continuous.
He was told that the cause
of these sudden attacks of blindness was eyestrain. The eyestrain was treated by the usual methods and treated so successfully
that he drove a car for long periods of time without further attacks of sudden blindness. At one time he reported to me that
if he took the trouble to practice relaxation methods he had no attacks of blindness. He was convinced that the relaxation
methods prevented amblyopia and loss of mental control.
are other occasions when these attacks of amblyopia with color blindness have interfered with the work of some artists. A
portrait painter gave a history of attacks of temporary blindness while at his work. Sometimes after devoting considerable
time to his work he found that he had to do it all over again because of the attacks of amblyopia and color blindness.
In another case a well known surgeon suffered from attacks of blindness at irregular periods. The blindness was complete
so that he had no perception of light. The attacks of blindness worried him very much because he was afraid, while performing
an important or dangerous surgical operation, that in the midst of it would come an attack of sudden blindness which would
tend to interfere seriously with his work.
The neurologists whom the surgeon consulted all told him that he was threatened
with insanity and that unless he took a long rest he might unexpectedly find himself blind and insane. Every ophthalmologist
whom he consulted gave him a different pair of glasses to wear, none of which gave him any relief. He not only suffered from
attacks of blindness but he was also bothered by illusions of sight.
He said nothing about the amblyopia at his first
visit, but told me that he called to have something done for his eyes. He had many symptoms of discomfort and he would be
very much obliged to me if I would cure him. While examining his eyes with the ophthalmoscope and seeking to find some treatment
which would improve his vision, I discovered that he was suffering from amblyopia. Then he was told that the reason that his
sight failed and that he had attacks of double vision was because of this amblyopia. Then began a great battle. The doctor
knew a great deal about physiological optics and would not encourage me to treat him until he was convinced that I was right
and he was wrong.
Double vision, multiple images
When he was in his office he said
that where he knew there was only one light, he saw two, three, or four lights. The images in some cases were arranged one
above the other and the distances between them varied within very wide limits. He said, however, that the principal illusion
that he suffered from was that it seemed to him that his hands and feet were double, sometimes more than double, The size
of the double images varied; sometimes one image was four or five times as large as the other. In some cases the double images
were arranged one above the other, while in other cases they were arranged in an oblique direction. When he looked at a Snellen
test card hanging up in my office, the bottom lines were double and the color of each line of letters appeared different.
With the aid of central fixation this illusion disappeared and did not return.
Double vision caused
by squint, crossed/wandering eyes is different from double, multiple images which can occur in one or both eyes and are usually
caused by imperfect relaxation of the mind and eyes, eye muscles, imperfect eye muscle coordination, abnormal eye, cornea,
lens shape, left and right brain hemispheres not activated, integrated, resulting in astigmatism, abnormal images.
little double image effect can occur temporarily when the vision is improving from blurry to clear. The double, multiple images
appear but are basically clear and will merge into one perfect clear image as the mind, eyes, eye muscles continue to relax,
Tension, pressure on the nerves, muscles in the neck can resonate into the eyes/eye muscles and cause
double, multiple images, blur.
Relaxation and movement of the neck along with all Bates Method activities corrects these
To satisfy the surgeon I made repeated
examinations of his eyes with the aid of the ophthalmoscope and each time I reported that his eyes were all right and that
there was nothing in either of his eyes which could explain the illusions from which he suffered. They did not come from any
malformation of the interior of the eyeball but were imagined. He was very much impressed when I told him how to produce illusions
of sight consciously whenever he so desired. He discovered that it was necessary to strain in order to do this and knowing
the cause of his trouble made it easier for him to relieve it by doing away with the strain.
This doctor went though
the World War and when he returned he came to my office and thanked me for what I had done for him. He said that he had not
had a single attack of temporary blindness from the stare or strain of amblyopia, because knowing the cause of his trouble
he was able to prevent it.
The great mistake that has been made for the last one hundred years or more was in ignoring
amblyopia. It was astonishing to find the number of doctors who did not believe that amblyopia was of great importance. Time
after time patients with amblyopia were treated in my office with success by relaxation methods. Some doctors stated very
strongly that amblyopia was congenital and emphasized the matter so strongly, so continuously that most other doctors hesitated
to treat amblyopia at all, but were very glad to turn such cases over to someone else.
By EMILY A. BATES
DR. BATES' article in this issue is on amblyopia, I thought that it would be a good opportunity for me to tell about some
interesting cases which I have taken care of.
In 1912 when I first began assisting Dr. Bates in his experimental work
in the Physiological Laboratory of the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York I had no idea that there was so much
to be learned about the cure of imperfect sight without glasses. As I became more acquainted with the Doctor's work, the desire
to learn more grew stronger. Each day I helped him. Watching the Doctor in his experiments with animals (these experiments
were always performed immediately after the death of the animals) was most interesting and often students in the Physiological
Laboratory who were doing their experimental work would stop long enough to watch Dr. Bates doing his work and making new
I felt very proud then to stand by his side after our work at the office was finished, taking an hour before
clinic time and an hour after the clinic session was over. There were times when our work together seemed almost too strenuous
for me and many times I felt as though I could not go on another day. Before I offered my assistance there were doctors who
tried to keep on in assisting the Doctor until his experimental work was accomplished, but in due time, one by one, they had
to give up, because they could not spare enough time away from their offices and for other reasons.
Dr. Bates has always
been a great reader and has studied every book written by prominent eye specialists. He always found time enough to try other
ideas and experiments even while he was doing his own work. While other doctors were away for the summer months, enjoying
a rest away from their work, Dr. Bates, who did not at that time believe in vacations, would sometimes be the only physician
doing any experimental work at the laboratory. Occasionally Professor Lee, who in his heart believed in Dr. Bates' work and
respected his ability to do what other doctors failed to accomplish, would come into the room to watch the experimental work
Amblyopia not only occurs in human beings but also in animals. Anyone who doubts this might ask the keeper
of the zoo how an animal in captivity acts when he is under a strain. In the early spring, when animals that have been housed
for the winter months, because they cannot stand the extreme cold, are first given the fresh air and more space outdoors,
they wander around and about in a blind sort of fashion. Some of them toss their bodies against the tall railings which prevent
them from escaping and for a while they do not know what it is all about. After a while, when they become accustomed to their
new surroundings and different light, their temporary blindness wears away, and if anyone who understands the use of the retinoscope
is near he will find that there is nothing wrong with the interiors of the animals' eyes.
Having had the opportunity
of being with Doctor Bates during his experimental days, I was able to understand how something could be wrong with the eyesight
of school children when apparently there was no organic change in the retina. I made a special study all by myself of the
cure of the eyes of school children and this is what I found:
Usually children of the poor have very little or no idea
of school work before they enter the school room. When it comes time for the mother to take her child to the public school,
usually the mother does not know what is in the heart or the mind of that child. He has been accustomed to a little play each
day in the streets and at other times was happy and familiar in the surroundings of the little place called home. Usually
children are shy when visitors call; some become irritable for no reason whatever and are sometimes punished for that. The
mother does not realize that strain of the mind is produced because the child either likes or dislikes the visitor. House
pets such as dogs or cats which are accustomed to the members of the household usually run away and hide when a visitor calls.
It doesn't require much to cause mind strain and when there is strain of the mind there is always eyestrain.
When a child
is bought into a large school he feels as though he is in another world. The child meets children who seem different from
those with whom he has been acquainted. He meets a teacher who tries her best to become acquainted with him and doesn't always
succeed. He sees his mother leaving him to the care of those whom he has never met before. All these things have to be overcome,
and this is not readily done in every case.
After a while the tests begin. Children soon have to read the writing on
the blackboard. When this cannot be accomplished by the pupil it is understood that the child has imperfect sight and needs
glasses. Eye tests are made with the aid of the Snellen test card and it is found that the vision is not normal. (Even the
sound of the voice of the person who tests the vision has a mental effect on the child.) Then the mother receives a note saying
that the child needs to be fitted for glasses.
In some schools this is still going on, but in others it is not. I found
many schools using the Bates Method without calling it so. Schools in New Jersey have used the Bates Method successfully for
many years, and while it has been stopped by the authorities as a daily routine, there have been a large number of children
benefited by the use of the Snellen test card. In the larger cities of the United States as well as in Germany, South Africa,
Great Britain, Switzerland, and Spain, the Bates Method is being carried on.
A great deal of eyestrain could be prevented
if children were told what to do before they begin their studies. Amblyopia could be prevented by explaining to the child
how necessary it is not to stare in order to see better. Blinking irregularly but often is something that is done universally
by people who have no trouble with their eyes. Animals in the same way blink their eyes often, although they themselves are
not conscious of it, as far as we know. When blinking is done right the eyes move and it is seldom that amblyopia is observed
in people who practice this.
In the October issue of the magazine, "Good House-keeping," there is an article
entitled "A New Job for the Public Schools," by Elizabeth Frazer. Her illustration of the children studying at their
desks shows mental strain as well as eye strain. In the article the following appears: "What is the matter with these
children? What causes them to fail in schools? What can be done to help them? Progressive educators are beginning to ask these
questions and want to help to prevent failures."
I can tell them how, for I have been with school children a good
many years and have helped them along just by improving their eyesight to normal. All those who are unruly should have their
sight tested every day with the Snellen test card. I can prove, if I am given a chance with a group of such children, that
every one has eyestrain. I can prove that when eyestrain is entirely relieved by resting the eyes, the mentality of such children
is improved. Not only does the child benefit by the Bates Method of relieving eyestrain, but the mother is relieved of a great
problem and the teacher is able to teach with less mental strain for her. I am ready for an interview at any time and I shall
greet with pleasure anyone who is interested enough to let me help in improving the defective eyesight of school children.
During the nine
years of clinic work which was done by Dr. Bates and myself at the Harlem Hospital here in New York City, many such cases
as Elizabeth Frazer describes came to us to be fitted for glasses. In my book, "Stories from The Clinic," I wrote
about a case of squint or cross eyes. This particular case was a little mulatto boy who first came at the age of four years,
accompanied by his grandmother. He wasn't wanted in kindergarten because he was not only unruly but destructive. He was not
wanted in his home where a new baby had come and where he was not safe to have around because of his cruelty. His grandmother
was the only one who cared to bother with him. When he had fits of extreme nervousness, he would act exactly like a blind
person and yet he was not blind. This is amblyopia.
I had to be very patient with this boy in order to do anything with
him at all. His right eye turned in toward the nose so far that one could hardly see the iris. One could easily imagine the
mental strain that this caused the child. Glasses had been prescribed for him, but with such a nature as he had, how was it
possible to prevent the glasses from being broken? This little chap refused to wear them from the start. The family physician
did not know what to do for him because physically he seemed all right and he did not know what to do for him mentally. Through
some mother who had brought her child to us for treatment and whose child also had squint, this grandmother heard about Dr.
Bates and his relaxation treatment for the relief of tension and eyestrain.
When I gradually won the boy over, we had
to play a game at pretending. We went into the land of make believe while his eyes were closed. I also had to close my eyes
frequently while treating him, because he produced a strain in my eyes as well as in his own. It was the only way I knew to
treat him and obtain results. His grandmother watched him closely each time I gave him a treatment and she followed me as
well as she could when she treated him at home. When the sight of his right eye improved for the test card, the right eye
became straighter and he displayed less nervousness. He attended clinic regularly three days a week for some months and each
time he received a treatment he became more and more patient and did as he was told by me.
Each time I tested his sight
for the test card I made note of the improvement he made and so did his grandmother. He did not always do as he was told but
a decided change for the better was noticed in due time and then he and his grandmother stopped coming to the clinic for a
while. I did not hear from them for a year, but when he did return I did not know who he was when he spoke to me. Both eyes
were straight and his vision was normal for the test card. His grandmother had brought him to me to let me see the improvement
in her little boy and I was surprised to note the difference in his attitude toward her and toward me. She had helped him
for an hour every day and had used the test cards as I directed her. He had in the meantime returned home to his mother and
was again going to school.
A boy, aged fifteen, was brought
to my attention through a patient who was treated and cured by Dr. Bates. This former patient was Mrs. H. D. Messick of Cleveland,
Ohio, who has done a great deal of charity work in relieving eye strain in school children among the poorer classes. She heard
of this boy whose left eye was almost blind and whose vision for the right eye was 10/30. The best eye specialist in the middle
west pronounced the left eye incurable and advised him never to be without glasses for fear of going absolutely blind in the
other eye. The eye which was almost blind was examined with the ophthalmoscope and nothing could be found wrong with the retina
or optic nerve or any other part of the eye, yet he could not see out of that eye.
This is amblyopia or blindness without
any apparent cause. The patient does not know what is wrong; neither does the doctor, yet the patient cannot see. This boy
had for many years tried to improve his ability as an artist by drawing pictures of ships, but he always drew them imperfectly
because he could not see them perfectly. When this boy, who was well acquainted with the Doctor's cured patient, found out
what had been done for her he promised to do anything he was advised to do if he could receive help as she did. If only he
would not go blind in the one eye, he said, he wouldn't mind it much having one blind eye, and the great specialist who had
pronounced his apparent blindness incurable had no hope whatever for that eye.
With such thoughts in his mind I first
began to treat him. When he noticed how quickly the vision improved in the blind eye, he went to work with the Bates Method
as no other boy under my supervision has done since. He improved steadily, sending me reports regularly until the vision of
the poor eye was normal. This was due to the help and encouragement he received from Mrs. Messick. The teachers in school
knew that he had worn glasses and when he returned to school without them, they attempted to persuade him to wear them, but
he wouldn't and he said that they were thrilled to notice the improvement not only in his eyesight, but in all the class work
that he did under their supervision. He sent me a picture of a ship which he had drawn, after his vision became normal. "It
is as perfect as any drawing could be," Dr. Bates exclaimed after he had examined it.
What was done for one boy
can be done for other boys who need help as Elizabeth Frazer has explained so well in her article.
Dr. Bates, as well as the Central Fixation Publishing Company, has been receiving a number of letters
recently from people who have been unsuccessfully treated by practitioners who have not taken Dr. Bates' course of instruction
and do not understand the Bates Method thoroughly.
Dr. Bates gives a course of instruction to doctors, teachers, nurses,
and others who wish to practice his method professionally. At the end of the course the student receives a certificate authorizing
him to help others by the Bates Method. This certificate, however, does not authorize the student to instruct others so that
they may in turn teach the method. Those wishing further particulars may obtain them by writing direct to Dr. Bates at 18
East 48th Street, New York City.
Q - My trouble is cataract. Shall
I cover up the good eye while practicing?
A - Practice with both eyes together until your vision is normal. Then, cover
the good eye and improve the vision of the poor eye.
Q- Often, when I am trying to see a thing, it will come to me,
but my eyes will commence to smart and then I blink and lose it. What shall I do to overcome that??
A - Blinking can be
done correctly, and it can be done incorrectly. You strain while you blink. The normal eye blinks easily and frequently. Strain
is always accompanied by the stare. By standing and swaying from side to side so that your whole body, head, and eyes move
together, the stare is lessened..
Q- What causes redness and smarting sensation of the eye even when plenty of sun treatment
has been given? Should one continue with sun treatment under the circumstances??
A - Take the sun treatment frequently
for five or ten minutes at a time daily, increasing the length of time until the eyes become accustomed to the sun. The eyes
should always be benefited after the sun treatment, and one should always feel relaxed. When done properly, the redness and
smarting should soon disappear. If the eyes are not benefited, it is an indication that you strain while taking the treatment.
Alternate the sun treatment with palming or closing the eyes to rest them..
Move the head side to
side when sunning..
Q - Is resting the eyes by palming a more effective cure for smarting of the eyes than the
A - This depends upon the individual. Some are benefited more by palming, while others receive more benefit
from the sun treatment..
Q- Should motor goggles be worn as protection against wind??
A - No protection is needed
against the wind if the eyes are used correctly. Blinking, shifting, central fixation, and the imagination of stationary objects
to be moving, should be practiced while motoring, and, in fact, all the time. Motor goggles weaken the eyes and make them
sensitive to the sunlight..
Q- Is age a factor in the cure of imperfect sight without glasses??
A - Age is not a
Q- In palming should one close the eyes tightly??
A - No, easily and naturally at all times..
you suggest new methods do you mean to discontinue with the old??
A - Not necessarily; all the methods I recommend have
relaxation for their object. It is for the patient to determine which treatment is most beneficial and to continue its practice
faithfully. Some patients tire easily when one thing is done continuously. For this reason several are suggested in order
to vary the practice..