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H. Bates M.D.Stories From The Clinic by Emily C. A. Lierman, BatesUse Your Own Eyes & Normal Sight Without Glasses by Dr. William B. MacCrackenStrengthening The Eyes - A New Course In Scientific Eye Training By Bernarr MacFadden, W. H. BatesMedical Articles By Ophthalmologist William H. 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See Things Moving - The
Mission of "Better Eyesight" - Stories From The Clinic - 5. The Jewish Woman – What Glasses Do to Us
A MONTHLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED TO THE
PREVENTION AND CURE OF IMPERFECT SIGHT WITHOUT GLASSES
SEE THINGS MOVING
When the Sight Is Normal all Objects Regarded Have An Apparent Motion
When the sight is perfect the subject is able to observe that all objects
regarded appear to be moving. A letter seen at the near point or at the distance appears to move slightly in various directions.
The pavement comes toward one in walking, and the houses appear to move in a direction opposite to one's own. In reading the
page appears to move in a direction opposite to that of the eye. If one tries to imagine things stationary, the vision is
at once lowered and discomfort and pain may be produced, not only in the eyes and head, but in other parts of the body.
This movement is usually so slight that it is seldom noticed till the attention is called to it, but it may be so conspicuous
as to be plainly observable even to persons with markedly imperfect sight.
If such persons for instance, hold the hand
within six inches of the face and turn the head and eyes rapidly from side to side, the hand will be seen to move in a direction
opposite to that of the eyes. If it does not move, it will be found that the patient is straining to see it in the eccentric
field. By observing this movement it becomes possible to see or imagine a less conspicuous movement, and thus the patient
may gradually become able to observe a slight movement in every object regarded. Some persons with imperfect sight have been
cured simply by imagining that they see things moving all day long.
The world moves. Let it move. All objects move if
you let them. Do not interfere with this movement, or try to stop it. This cannot be done without an effort which impairs
the efficiency of the eye and mind.
MISSION OF "BETTER EYESIGHT"
number Better Eyesight enters upon its second year. It was started in July, 1919, for the purpose of diffusing a knowledge
of the truth about central fixation, and it has accomplished all that was hoped for it. It has carried the message that errors
of refraction are curable to thousands of people, and many of these people have been able to cure these conditions in themselves
and others solely by means of the information which it has contained.
The magazine is modest in its appearance. One can
get many times the amount of reading matter which it contains at any newsstand for the same money, but the value of truth
cannot be estimated by the number of words required to state it, and it is the object of the editor to give the public the
truth about central fixation as briefly and simple as possible. The truth can usually be stated briefly and simply. It is
error which is hard to understand and which requires a multitude of words for its presentation.
The editor believes that
no one who values his or her eyesight can afford to be without this magazine. It has a message not only for those whose sight
is imperfect, but for those whose sight is normal. No one, however good his sight may ordinarily be, has perfect sight all
No one has as good sight as he might have. Therefore everyone can be benefited by practicing the principles
presented in this magazine. While persons with imperfect sight may thus gain normal vision, persons with so-called normal
sight can always improve it, and may even double the accepted standard of normality, or gain a measure of telescopic or microscopic
vision. It is not a good thing to be satisfied with just normal sight. Not only is keen sight a great convenience, but it
reflects a condition of mind which reacts favorably upon all the other senses, upon the general health and upon the mental
Even the blind can get some help from Better Eyesight. Not all blind persons are curable, but the editor believes
that an increasing number of blind persons may expect help from central fixation, for already it has been found possible to
relieve or cure such conditions as cataract, glaucoma, conical cornea, retinitis pigmentosa, cyclitis, opacities of the cornea,
and atrophy of the optic nerve.
magazine will continue to publish during the coming year, as it has in the past, the latest discoveries of the editor, the
experiences of cured patients—which have proven to be very valuable—and practical instructions for the improvement
of the eyesight. On page 2 of each issue we will continue to give specific directions for self-treatment in language as simple
as possible, so that persons who are not physicians can understand it. We have had much testimony to the value of this page,
and the editor strongly urges every subscriber, no matter what the condition of his or her eyesight, to demonstrate these
truths as they appear.
Better Eyesight stands for a revolution in the treatment of eye troubles, and has had to meet
the difficulties that always beset the path of the revolutionist. For seventy-five years we have believed that errors of refraction—by
which is meant the inability of the eye to focus light rays accurately upon the retina—were due to organic and irremediable
causes. The editor of Better Eyesight has proved that these troubles are functional and curable, that the elongated eyeball
of myopia (shortsight) the flattened eyeball of hypermetropia (farsight), and the lopsided eyeball of astigmatism, can he
made to resume their normal shape, temporarily in a few minutes, and more continuously by further treatment. The world has
been slow to receive this message. The editor is practically alone in advocating central fixation. A small number of physicians,
including a few eye specialists, who have been cured or seen members of their families cured of eye troubles, without glasses,
operations, or medication, have been convinced that the old theories about the eye and the treatment of defects of vision
are wrong; but very few have had courage to endorse the new treatment publicly.
This is not to be wondered at, and is
not a cause for discouragement. The editor now wonders at his own slowness in seeing the truth. The facts conquered his conservatism
at last only because they were irresistible, and for the same reason they must ultimately conquer all conservatism. Physicians
and others who refuse to accept them, or even to investigate them, will be swept aside to make room for those of more open
In the meantime, Better Eyesight needs friends, it needs encouragement, it needs subscribers. The editor appeals
to present subscribers to continue their support, and to advertise whenever and wherever they have an opportunity the good
news that the eye is not a blunder of nature, as the textbooks teach, but an instrument as perfectly adapted to the needs
of civilized man as to those of the savage. Persons who have cured themselves should utilize every opportunity to improve
the sight of relatives and friends. All parents should be told that they have it in their power to prevent and cure defects
of vision in their children and at the same time to improve their health and increase their mental efficiency. The same message
should be carried to teachers and school boards. The blind should be told of this new hope for the sightless, and societies
for the blind should be urged to investigate it. If everyone who has demonstrated the truth of central fixation does his or
her duty in the matter, defective eyesight will soon cease to be, as it has so long been, the curse of civilization.
STORIES FROM THE CLINIC
5. The Jewish Woman
By EMILY C. LIERMAN
Just before the war a Jewish woman, sixty-three years of age, came to the clinic and begged me to
help her just a little.
"Please don't bother trying to cure me," she said. "That is too much to expect,
and anyhow I am an old lady, so what does it matter?"
Her eyes were half shut, because the light bothered her and
she felt more comfortable with the lids lowered. She told me that she was suffering great pain both in her eyes and head,
and when I had her look at the test card at ten feet it was all a blur to her. I showed her how to palm, but the position
tired her, and she said she was not accustomed to praying so long—she was quite a sinner. As she weighed over two hundred
pounds and was sick in both mind and body, I asked her how much she ate every day.
"Oh, I don't eat much—nothing
to speak of at all," she said. "In the morning I eat eggs, or something like that, and rolls and butter and coffee.
Then about ten I have a few slices of bread with more butter and more coffee. At noon I have soup, bread and butter and more
coffee. For supper I have bread, butter, meat, vegetables and more coffee. That's all."
She took more food in one
day than I did in three, and when I told her she ate too much, it appeared to frighten her, for she staid away for two weeks.
Eating, no doubt, was one of the few pleasures she had in life, and she did not wish to be deprived of it.
When she returned
I had her palm again, and this improved her sight from 20/100 to 20/50. It also relieved her pain markedly, and when I told
her that she would get still more help, both for her eyes and her body generally, if she would eat less, she agreed to do
In spite of her pain and misery, my patient had always been full of humor, and her witty remarks had been a source
of much amusement to me; but one day, just after the declaration of war, I found her in a corner weeping. When I asked her
to read the test card for me, she said with tears:
"Please, nurse, I can't see anything today. My two sons have
enlisted, one as a marine, and the other as an aviator, and they are never coming back, I am afraid. I cannot sleep. I am
suffering great pain all over my body. My heart is breaking."
From the beginning I had felt that she had been a
devoted mother, and as I am always drawn to good mothers, I now felt a great pity for her grief. In order to get her mind
off her pain, I encouraged her to talk about her boys.
"How proud you must be to have two sons to fight for your
country, and for you!" I said. "I wish I had ten sons I would give them all for my country."
were not very consoling, I admit, in the presence of a sorrow like this, and the stricken mother refused to he comforted.
But when I said, "You wouldn't be proud of them if they were cowards, and Uncle Sam wouldn't want them if they were criminals
in a jail," she straightened up and said:
"You are right. They are brave boys all right, and I am proud of
I now tested her sight with the card, and found it better than ever before.
"You have the right
medicine," she said, "I am coming again. I do not understand why I can see so well now after being so blind a few
I squeezed her arm above the elbow and asked:
"Do you feel that?"
"Well, that is just what you are doing to the muscles of your eyes, and the strain blinded you. When
you relaxed, the pressure was relieved and your sight improved. It was the pressure that lowered the vision."
Positive emotions, thoughts=relaxed mind, eyes=clear vision.
At a later visit she brought a package
for me, explaining that she had no money and wanted to express her gratitude. I took the package home, and when I opened it
I found a loaf of delicious real bread—not Hoover bread. My neighbors were very envious of me, because the only bread
they could obtain had a flavor like that of sawdust. At the time I appreciated that bread more than a five dollar bill.
Every time the patient came to the clinic we talked about her boys for a few minutes, and it certainly had a good effect
upon her eyesight. When the war ended and the boy came home, every one who would listen heard of the great things they had
done "over there." One would have thought one was attending an annual convention of some sort instead of an eye
During the war and up to about six months ago, the patient came more or less regularly to the clinic. Palming
always helped her, but as she complained that it made her arms ache to hold her hands over her eyes, I had her simply close
her eyes without palming. This also helped her. One day I placed her two feet further from the card than usual, and asked
her how much she could see. She replied:
"Now, you know I am an old woman, and I guess my eyes are getting old too.
I cannot see so far."
I told her to close her eyes and rest them, forget that she had eyes, and think of black velvet,
or her black hat. Ten minutes later she read 10/20, and her eyes had a natural appearance. She became very much excited and
asked me what I did to her.
Dieting also helped her eyesight and nerves very much, but she could not always bring herself
to forego the pleasure of eating what she wanted. She forgot most of the things I told her to do at home, but I don't think
she ever forgot a meal, nor did she realize the quantity of food she consumed when she gave free rein to her appetite. If
she had always done as she was told, I am sure she would have been completely cured long ago. As it was, her improvement was
very remarkable. Not only did she become able to read 10/20, but at the time she stopped coming to the clinic she said that
the pain and discomfort in her eyes had entirely ceased. She was sleeping better, and her general physical condition was greatly
Her case made me realize more clearly than ever the relation of mental strain to defective vision. I could
not help her until I found out what she had on her heart, and when by means of a little sympathy—I could give her nothing
else—I was able to get her mind off her trouble, or make it seem less to her, her nerves always relaxed. It was very
remarkable the way a pleasant conversation, without further treatment, would improve her sight. The experience was afterward
a great help to me in treating other patients. In the rush of work at the dispensary it has often seemed that I could not
take the time to talk to the patients, to get acquainted with them, to let them tell me about their troubles. I know now that
this is not a waste of time, but a very necessary part of the treatment.
WHAT GLASSES DO TO US
By W. H. BATES, M. D.
a tomb in the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Florence was found the following inscription: "Here lies Salvino degli
Armati, Inventor of Spectacles. May God pardon him his sins."1
Florentines were doubtless mistaken in supposing that their fellow citizen was the inventor of the lenses now so commonly
worn to correct errors of refraction. There has been much discussion as to the origin of these devices, but they are generally
believed to have been known at a period much earlier than that of Salvino degli Armati. The Romans at least must have known
something of the art of supplementing the powers of the eye, for Pliny tells us that Nero used to watch the games in the Colosseum
through a concave gem set in a ring for that purpose. If, however, his contemporaries believed that Salvino of the Armati
was the first to produce these aids to vision, they might well pray for the pardon of his sins; for while it is true that
eyeglasses have brought to some people improved vision and relief from pain and discomfort, they have been to others simply
an added torture, they always do more or less harm, and at their best they never improve the vision to normal.
That glasses cannot improve the sight to normal can be very simply demonstrated by looking at any color through a strong convex
or concave glass. It will be noted that the color is always less intense than when seen with the naked eye; and since the
perception of form depends upon the perception of color, it follows that both color and form must be less distinctly seen
with glasses than without them. Even plane glass lowers the vision both for color and form, as everyone knows who has ever
looked out of a window. All glass, plain and colored disrupts the healthy full spectrum light of the
That glasses must injure the eye is evident from the fact that one cannot see through them unless one
produces the degree of refractive error which they are designed to correct. But refractive errors, in the eye which is left
to itself, are never constant.2 If one secures good vision by the aid of concave, or convex, or astigmatic lenses, therefore,
it means that one is maintaining constantly a degree of refractive error which otherwise would not be maintained constantly.
It is only to be expected that this should make the conditions worse, and it is a matter of common experience that it does.
After people once begin to wear glasses their strength, in most cases, has to be steadily increased in order to maintain the
degree of visual acuity secured by the aid of the first pair.
That the human eye resents glasses is a fact which no one
would attempt to deny. Every oculist knows that patients have to "get used" to them, and that sometimes they never
succeed in doing so. Patients with high degrees of myopia and hypermetropia have great difficulty in accustoming themselves
to the full correction, and often are never able to do so. The strong concave glasses required by myopes of high degree make
all objects seem much smaller than they really are while convex glasses enlarge them. These are unpleasantnesses that cannot
be overcome. Patients with high degrees of astigmatism suffer some very disagreeable sensations when they first put on glasses,
for which reason they are warned by one of the Conservation of Vision leaflets published by the Council on Health and Public
Instruction of the American Medical Association to "get used to them at home before venturing where a misstep might cause
a serious accident."3
All glasses contract the field of vision to a greater or less degree. Even with very weak
glasses patients are unable to see distinctly unless they look through the center of the lenses, with the frames at right
angles to the line of vision; and not only is their vision lowered if they fail to do this, but annoying nervous symptoms,
such as dizziness and headache, are sometimes produced. Therefore they are unable to turn their eyes freely in different directions.
This results in eye, neck, head, body muscle tension, immobility, impaired eye shifting, central fixation
and other functions of the visual system.
It is true that glasses are now ground in such a way that it is theoretically
possible to look through them at any angle, but practically they seldom accomplish the desired result.
of keeping the glass clear is one of the minor discomforts of glasses, but nevertheless a most annoying one. On damp and rainy
days the atmosphere clouds them. On hot days the perspiration from the body may have a similar effect. On cold days they are
often clouded by the moisture of the breath. Every day they are so subject to contamination by dust and moisture and the touch
of the fingers incident to unavoidable handling that it is seldom they afford an absolutely unobstructed view of the objects
Reflections of strong light from eyeglasses are often very annoying, and in the street may be very dangerous.
Soldiers, sailors, athletes, workmen and children have great difficulty with glasses because of the activity of their lives,
which not only leads to the breaking of the lenses, but often throws them out of focus, particularly in the case of eyeglasses
worn for astigmatism.
The fact that glasses are very disfiguring may seem a matter unworthy of consideration in a medical
publication; but mental discomfort does not improve either the general health or the vision, and while we have gone so far
toward making a virtue of what we conceive to be necessity that some of us have actually come to consider glasses becoming,
huge round lenses in ugly tortoise-shell frames being positively fashionable at the present time, there are still some unperverted
minds to which the wearing of glasses is mental torture and the sight of them upon others far from agreeable. Most human beings
are, unfortunately, ugly enough without putting glasses upon them, and to disfigure any of the really beautiful faces that
we have with such contrivances is surely as bad as putting an import tax upon art. As for putting glasses upon a child it
is enough to make the angels weep.
Up to about a generation ago glasses were used only as an aid to defective sight,
but they are now prescribed for large numbers of persons who can see as well or better without them. The hypermetropic eye
is believed to be capable of correcting its own difficulties to some extent by altering the curvature of the lens, through
the activity of the ciliary muscle. The eye with simple myopia is not credited with this capacity, because an increase in
the convexity of the lens, which is supposed to be all that is accomplished by accommodative effort, would only increase the
difficulty, and this, it is believed, can be overcome, in part, by alterations in the curvature of the Lens. Thus we are led
by the theory to the conclusion that an eye in which any error of refraction exists is practically never free, while open,
from abnormal accommodative efforts. In other words, it is assumed that the supposed muscle of accommodation has to bear,
not only the normal burden of changing the focus of the eye for vision at different distances, but the additional burden of
compensating for refractive errors. Such adjustments, if they actually took place, would naturally impose a severe strain
upon the nervous system, and it is to relieve this strain—which is believed to be the cause of a host of functional
nervous troubles—quite as much as to improve the sight, that glasses are prescribed.
It has been demonstrated,
however, that the lens is not a factor, either in the production of accommodation, or in the correction of errors of refraction.
Therefore under no circumstances can there be a strain of the ciliary muscle to be relieved. It has also been demonstrated
that when the vision is normal no error of refraction is present, and the extrinsic muscles of the eyeball are at rest. Therefore
there can be no strain of the extrinsic muscles to he relieved in these cases. When a strain of these muscles does exist,
glasses may correct its effects upon the refraction, but the strain itself they cannot relieve. On the contrary, as has been
shown, they must make it worse. Nevertheless persons with normal vision who wear glasses for the relief of a supposed muscular
strain are often benefited by them. This is a striking illustration of the effect of mental suggestion, and plane glass, if
it could inspire the same faith, would produce the same result. In fact, many patients have told me that they had been relieved
of various discomforts by glasses which I found to be simply plane glass. One of these patients was an optician who had fitted
the glasses himself and was under no illusions whatever about them; yet he assured me that when he didn't wear them he got
When glasses do not relieve headaches and other nervous symptoms it is assumed to be because they were not
properly fitted, and some practitioners and their patients exhibit an astounding degree of patience and perseverance in their
joint attempts to arrive at the proper prescription. A patient who suffered from severe pains in the base of his brain was
fitted sixty times by one specialist alone, and had besides visited many other eye and nerve specialists in this country and
in Europe. He was relieved of the pain in five minutes by the methods recommended by this magazine, while his vision at the
same time became temporarily normal.
As refractive abnormalities are continually changing, not only from day to day and
from hour to hour, but from minute to minute, even under the influence of atropine, the accurate fitting of glasses is, of
course, impossible. In some cases these fluctuations are so extreme, or the patient so unresponsive to mental suggestion,
that no relief whatever is obtained from correcting lenses, which necessarily become, under such circumstances, an added discomfort.
At their best it cannot be maintained that glasses are anything more than a very unsatisfactory substitute for normal vision.
- Nuova Encyclopedia Italiana, sixth edition.
2 - Bates: The Imperfect Sight of the Normal Eye. N. Y. Med. Jour., Sept
3 - Lancaster: Wearing Glasses, p. 15.