A MONTHLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED TO THE PREVENTION AND CURE OF
IMPERFECT SIGHT WITHOUT GLASSES
Near-sighted people have frequently been told that it is necessary for them
to wear glasses constantly, to prevent their eyes from becoming worse. They are afraid that this statement may be true, and
one cannot blame them for hesitating to leave their glasses off permanently.
One of my patients stated that she suffered
very much from headaches. They were so severe that they made her ill, and confined her to her bed at least once a week. While
wearing her glasses, she still was in pain, but was afraid, if she left them off, the headaches would become worse. By discarding
her glasses, practicing palming, swinging, and the memory of perfect sight, her eyes and head improved immediately. When she
resumed her glasses again, she at once became uncomfortable, and the pain returned. She decided to leave them off permanently,
and her headaches disappeared.
Some years ago an optician consulted me about his headaches. When I examined his glasses,
I found that they were plane window glass. He said that when he wore them his headaches were better, but his wife confided
to me that this was not true. He was troubled more when he wore them. He was suffering from fear.
I saw him again a year
later and learned that he had permanently discarded his glasses, at my suggestion, during all that time, and was free of headaches.
It has been a habit with me, when patients who suffer from fear of the consequences that might happen if they did not wear
their glasses, to have them demonstrate the facts. When the truth is known, fear is abolished. It is very easy in most cases
to teach patients some of the causes of headaches.
By Dr. W. H. Bates, M.D.
August number of “Better Eyesight” each year is devoted to the problem of the Imperfect Sight of School Children.
Every year we have evidence that when most children enter school, their vision is normal. After a few years, most of them
acquire imperfect sight. The average is about eighty percent (80%). Of these nearly all have acquired farsightedness and astigmatism.
At the age of ten or twelve near-sightedness appears, and far-sighted children become less. It is a truth that should be emphasized,
that nearly all of the cases of imperfect sight in school children are acquired after they enter school.
For more than
a hundred years, eye doctors have believed that far-sightedness is congenital, or is present at birth. They did not believe
that it could be acquired. A plausible explanation suggests that young children are more accustomed to using their eyes for
distant vision without effort, and for this reason their distant vision is good. However, when they enter school and begin
to study from books, they begin to strain at the near point. I have repeatedly published that a strain to see at the near
point always produces far-sightedness, or hypermetropia. It is not many years before the distant vision becomes imperfect
from the strain. Then, when the child makes an effort to see at the distance in order to correct its imperfect distant vision,
near-sightedness, or myopia, is produced.
It is difficult to explain why some children strain to see at the near point
or at the distance, when others do not strain at all. I have had children consciously strain and lower their vision either
at the distance or at the near point, or, in other words, demonstrate that the strain does not improve their sight. They were
unable to tell me why they did it. However, some children profited by their experience and told me that the reason they did
not strain was because it lowered their vision. In most cases where the children became conscious that the strain lowered
their vision, they told me that the reason they kept on straining was because they did not know what else to do. There are
a number of teachers who have suggested to their pupils that, since strain causes imperfect sight, why not try resting the
eyes, which many of them did with benefit.
However, there is a cause of eyestrain in school children which has not been
sufficiently emphasized. Children and adults imitate others, consciously or unconsciously. For example, when one person yawns,
many others, consciously or unconsciously, yawn also. If in a company of people a feeling of pleasure prevails, each newcomer
consciously or unconsciously assumes the same state of mind; but when an objectionable person, who is disagreeable, enters
the room, a general feeling of discomfort among those present is felt.
Mothers, fathers, or other relatives affect the
minds and the nerves of their children or of other people’s children. If one or both parents are wearing glasses for
the relief of eyestrain, the children who associate with them a good deal, acquire eyestrain and their vision becomes imperfect.
In one case I remember where the mother was suffering from eyestrain, accompanied by a high degree of near-sightedness in
one eye. She was exceedingly nervous. Her vision was so much improved by treatment that she was encouraged to bring her daughter,
who was wearing glasses for near-sightedness. The child was only ten years old, with a history of imperfect sight, which came
on gradually and required strong glasses for its relief. With each eye separately or with both eyes, the vision was 10/200.
I had her palm for about fifteen minutes. Immediately her vision improved to 10/10, or normal vision. Then I went out of the
room and asked the mother to test the little girl’s sight while I was gone. When I returned, the child’s vision
had relapsed to 10/200. I talked to the mother very strongly about the facts, and told her that near-sightedness was contagious.
I impressed upon her mind as strongly as I knew how, that the child would recover by reading the Snellen test card, provided
the mother was not in the same room. The child was not to wear her glasses again.
Some weeks later the mother reported
that her daughter had obtained normal vision. She was tested daily by a relative with normal sight who did not wear glasses.
One day the mother visited me at my office and was very much depressed. She said that her daughter had had a relapse. I asked
“Who tested her eyes?”
She answered, “I did.”
I recommended her never to speak to her daughter about her eyes, and that all the testing should
be done by somebody else. This happened five years ago, and I believe the child still has normal eyes and normal sight without
I have examined the eyes of a great many school children during the past thirty years. In all classes where
the teachers had imperfect sight, or wore glasses, or suffered from eyestrain, a much larger percentage of near-sightedness
was found than in those classes where the vision of the teachers was normal, or no eyestrain was present. This fact suggests
that teachers should learn how to have normal sight without glasses.
Some of the teachers who were familiar with my methods
of curing imperfect sight without glasses, taught the children how to palm and rest their eyes frequently during the day.
The children were also taught how to avoid the stare by swaying their bodies, their heads and eyes from side to side, alternately
closing their eyes, remembering some letter perfectly, and then flashing the Snellen test card. The teachers also taught the
children the value of blinking the eyes frequently.
One teacher helped her pupils very much by having them write compositions
on Palming, Swinging, and other methods for improving the sight. Many children were very much impressed by the value of relaxation,
and encouraged other children, their parents, friends or neighbors to benefit their eyes in the same way.
found that the treatment of imperfect sight improved not only the vision, but also increased the mental efficiency of their
charges. It was very remarkable how the children’s scholarship improved. Many of them with imperfect sight suffered
from headaches and loss of memory. The relaxation exercises were of the greatest benefit in these cases. Some were found whose
nerves were so sensitive that, although their scholarship was good, they failed to pass their examinations. In such cases
a perfect memory or imagination of a letter or some other object was a complete relief, and their examinations became satisfactory.
It was also interesting to learn that ill-behaved or mischievous pupils improved in their general conduct.
suffer so much from headaches and other troubles when attending school, that they acquire a great dislike for their studies
and prefer to leave school at an early age and go to work.
I have always had a great deal of sympathy for teachers. They
certainly have a great deal to do. So many children are mischievous, and seem to take a cruel pride in making the work of
their teachers more difficult. In this connection, I wish to call attention to the wonderful work of Ms. Hansen of Chicago,
Ill., who has solved the problem, and has published an article in this number, telling how she did it.
This article was
written for the purpose of encouraging teachers to practice relaxation methods, which always improve the vision and prevent
children from acquiring imperfect sight. If the teachers should, in the presence of their pupils, practice reading the Snellen
test card and other relaxation exercises, no doctor and no member of the Board of Education could object.
FROM THE CLINIC
During the last year many school children
have been benefited and cured of their imperfect sight at our clinic. Some had been wearing glasses, but a larger number had
not worn them. The latter were cured quickly and in a few cases needed only one treatment. The records show that all those
who were wearing glasses, obtained better vision without them. There were no exceptions. For the benefit of those who are
interested in eye clinic work, I shall tell about a number of high school boys, all from the same school, who came for treatment.
A director of a Boys' Physical Training Department in one of our largest high schools in New York City heard of our clinic.
About nine-tenths of the boys under his care were wearing glasses. Others struggled along without them, even though they had
imperfect sight. The boys were between the ages of 13 and 17 years.
Late in the fall of 1924 one of them, by the name
of Arthur, came with a note from the physical director. We accepted him gladly and he began treatment under the supervision
of Miss Mildred Shepard, my assistant. His vision on the first day was 20/100 with each eye. It was noticed that his eyes
were partly closed as he looked at the test card. When placed in a bright light, he had difficulty in keeping them open, and
his forehead was a mass of wrinkles. Anyone observing him for the first time would have thought that Arthur never smiled.
I thought so myself, as he appeared week after week, during the winter months and through the spring. Recently I treated him
and helped him to read 10/10 on a strange card. I also received a shock. He smiled. By closing his eyes to rest them, and
flashing each letter, he read 10/15 without a mistake. I wanted to stop his treatment then, because there were about twenty
others waiting. Arthur begged, however, for one more chance. We gave him the sun treatment and then he returned to the test
card and read 10/10. It was at that time I found that Arthur could really smile. Palming, blinking and swinging, with sun
treatment, cured him.
The next case was William, whose
vision was 10/200 with each eye. I do believe that William practiced faithfully at home and in other places, but he is just
one of many cases of myopia who are slow in obtaining a cure. He is not discouraged, and knows that he will eventually have
normal vision if he keeps on. His sight improved to 10/40, or one-fourth of the normal, in six months. The physical director
wrote to me again, asking if he might send more of his boys who were anxious to get rid of their glasses. We have not the
room nor the time to take care of even a small percentage of those who are crying out for help. I read the letter to Dr. Bates.
He did not answer right away, but just looked at me. Then he said: "Now, you know how much I love school children, and
you also know how much I disapprove of glasses." I said: "All right, that settles it." My answer was: "Send
them along. There's no limit to the number."
Twenty or more came in response to my letter, and all of them were
nice boys. How glad I was that I wrote what I did. After they had received their first treatment, and I had spent more than
three hours with them, Dr. Bates appeared at my room to ask if I were tired. His voice sounded most sympathetic. But I was
perfectly relaxed, and not a bit tired. As I instructed the boys to palm and swing, I practiced with them. As their vision
improved, so did my nerves become more relaxed. I was happy, but not tired. Treating the boys was not easy, but every one
of them did as they were told, which made the task lighter.
had worn glasses about two years. He had a great deal of pain in his eyes and his sight was getting worse. The optician who
had fitted him said he would have to wear them the rest of his life. His vision without glasses was 10/200 with his right
eye and 10/100 with the left. He stared continuously, which, I believe, was the main cause of his pain. The first thing I
did was to teach him how to blink. This relieved his pain. Palming and the swing improved his vision in both eyes to 10/50
on his first visit. Every time he was treated, his vision improved for the test card. At times he did not do so well, and
he would apologize.
When I became better acquainted with Samuel he said: "You see. Mother is not forced to do it,
but she peddles things, and helps my father to earn more money. In this way Mother will see that I can go to college."
I told him that he should be very proud of such a wonderful mother. I look up to her with great respect and honor, because
of her courage and sacrifice. Heaven bless such mothers! Samuel had to have four months’ treatment before he could read
with normal vision, but he was determined, and won out.
had symptoms of St. Vitus' dance, with a great amount of pain in both eyes. His vision was: right 10/15 and left 10/10. He
had no organic disease of his eyes but the ophthalmoscope showed eyestrain. After three treatments the symptoms of St. Vitus'
dance had entirely disappeared and he had no more pain. His vision also became normal, 10/10.
Morris hated glasses
and wore them but a short time. He had normal vision in his right eye, but only perception of light in the left. I held the
test card up close to his left eye, and told him to cover the right one. By alternately blinking and flashing the white of
the card, he became able to see the letters as black spots. He was instructed to practice with the test card every day, seeing
the letters move opposite to the movement of his body. While doing this he was to keep his right eye covered. After his third
treatment he read the bottom line of the test card at three feet, or 3/10, with the left eye. He had been told by many doctors
that nothing could be done for the left eye, because it was incurably blind. Dr. Bates examined him with the ophthalmoscope
and said the trouble was called amblyopia exanopsia, or blindness from effort. Dr, Bates stated that such cases are usually
pronounced incurable. Morris believes that with constant practice, there is no reason why he should not obtain normal vision
in his left eye.
Benjamin had never worn glasses. For
a long time the constant pain in his eyes made it difficult for him to study. The ophthalmoscope revealed only eyestrain.
Right vision, 10/10: left vision, 10/20. After palming a short while and with the aid of the swing, the vision in his left
eye improved to the normal 10/10. He had four treatments altogether. On his last visit I helped him to read 20/10 right eye
and 20/20 left. He was instructed to practice with very fine print daily, and this, I believe, had most to do with relieving
his pain permanently. He was more than grateful for the relief he obtained. He had a little brother, named Joseph, who was
wearing glasses. Timidly he asked me would I help him, too. "Surely," I said. "Bring him along next time."
Joseph had been wearing glasses for three years, but his sight was not poor
without them. Without glasses his vision was 10/15 with each eye. Blinking while he was swaying improved his vision to the
normal in five minutes' time. He promised not to put his glasses on again, and came to me for four more treatments. These
were really unnecessary because his sight stayed normal, 10/10. If our method had been in general use in the schools, this
boy and others would not have been forced to wear glasses.
Hyman wore glasses four years for progressive myopia.
His vision with his right eye was 10/100 and 10/70 with the left. After his first treatment he was able to read 10/50 with
each eye. Constant daily practice, by palming and improving his memory, brought his vision to the normal, 10/10. This boy
required only five treatments.
Charles wore glasses about four years, although he had no organic trouble, just
eyestrain. His vision was 10/30 with each eye. He was told to close his eyes, and while palming to remember a small square
printed on the test card. He was directed not to remember all parts at once, but to remember or imagine one part best at a
time. His vision then improved to the normal, or 10/10. Sun treatment was also given him. Charles was cured in one visit.
Harry had worn glasses one year. His vision was 10/30 with the right eye and 10/70 with the left. Regular daily practice
and the sun treatment improved his vision to 10/10 in three visits. Vows he will never wear glasses again.
was a fine, lovable chap a trifle younger than the rest. He was not so sure that he liked to see his name in print. I had
mentioned the fact to all my wonderful boys, that I was going to write about their cases. He did not object very strongly
when he realized that it would be a help to others. His vision was 10/50 with the right eye and 10/70 with the left. Palming
and sun treatment improved his sight to normal, after three treatments. The rest of the boys were cured mostly with one treatment.
It was only a matter of teaching them how to use their eyes right.
By Elisabeth Hansen
Another year has passed, and Dr. Bates’ system of relaxation for the eyes, mind and nerves
has again been most successfully tried out. Every Monday morning the new Victrola record is used as a lesson for open discussion.
The composer and artist is the very best, as we wish to instill in the children’s minds an appreciation of the beauty,
rhythm and style of the music. It is played all through the week, four times daily for five-minute periods.
and Imagination Activity with Music
Before starting the record we devote two minutes to one of the various relaxation
exercises, either the long swing, swaying from side to side, the elliptical or variable swing. Next comes the record, and
the children, while-palming, are to interpret it. This is done sometimes by story, sometimes, as in an orchestral or string
quartet number, they choose one instrument, and follow that through to the end. It is fine to ask them what feelings are aroused,
such as gayety, calm, sorrow, noisy street scenes or bravery. They love to do this. Then again the music is only an accompaniment
for imaginative stories.
A conservatory in the park was visited by the whole room one day, and they remembered not only
the gorgeous color displays, but the temperatures, and what grew best in those places. After their palming lesson, I asked
them to write their memory pictures, and it made an excellent composition. What they wrote after palming, on how their pet
dogs met them, and played with them made interesting stories.
Imagining the clouds as hills of snow, a sled, two boys
or girls, usually in bright-colored sweaters and caps, made much fun. They enjoyed counting the little black “o”
- remembering their favorite flower blossoms, but, best of all, to watch the fairies dance and play in the woods. (George
Guild’s Fairy Stories must be read to them every month. It would not do to miss that.)
What you have just read
will give you an idea how we vary the palming period. When the music is finished, the children come back very happy, and once
or twice a day they read silently the smallest letters of the Snellen test card seen from their seats, both eyes and each
eye separately. The card serves two purposes: To keep them from becoming myopic, and also to teach them to print Roman type
It is interesting to see how well and orderly they express themselves in their written composition work, their
oral expression, and in the drawing lesson. It is pleasant to see them first look at the flower study or model, close their
eyes, and paint as though it were the finest thing in the world to do.
From an educational standpoint, Dr. Bates’
system is far-reaching, and can’t be bettered in the training of memory and imagination. In silent reading, geography
and history, where imagination plays such an important part, it works wonders.
By George M. Guild
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there lived a young frog who was
very fond of travel and adventure. He became tired of sitting in one mud hole, where the only friends he had were other frogs.
All the time he was on the move, trying to dodge the ducks and geese who were after him to serve as part of their dinner.
He kept moving from one small pond to another, until he came to where there was no pond, where there was no mud, and no ducks
or geese to dodge. The trees were high and grew closely together, so that the light of the sun was largely cut off. Much to
his surprise, he found an open space all covered with nice, short, soft grass. When the sun went down, the place filled up
with fairies. He was very grateful to them, because they did not try to steal his legs, for, as you know, some people are
very fond of frogs’ legs. When cooked in a hot pan with cracker dust and butter, they are delicious.
were surprised to see the frog and crowded around him to see him better. He was just as anxious to see them, and so he hopped
on the top of the highest toad-stool he could find, and from this elevation he could see thousands and thousands of fairies,
all dancing, laughing, and having a good time. The sight of so many fairies in all their bright colors dazzled him so that
he was compelled to continually blink his eyes to avoid the glare.
The Fairy Queen was pleased with him, touched him
with her magic wand, and transformed him into a Fairy Prince. He wore magnificent clothes, but looked queer with his long
legs, short arms, and large, bulging black eyes. She gave him a magic white horse to ride. He soon mounted him with a high
jump and gave a loud croak. The horse sprang forward and they were off. The fairies cheered and waved their hands. The Prince
waved his hat, and they were soon out of sight of the fairies.
In a short time they came to a small house. The Prince
got off his steed, tied him to a tree, walked up to the front door, and knocked. No answer. He knocked again and again, without
success. Then he opened the door and walked in. Lying on a couch, fast asleep, was a young girl with her eyes covered with
bandages. She was suffering great pain in her eyes. Much of the time she cried and screamed in her agony. The Prince was sorry
for her and spoke to her kindly and gently. He told her that he was a Fairy Prince who had come to help her. This made her
laugh and clap her hands for joy.
“Oh, I must see you,” she said. “I have always wanted to see a Fairy
With her permission he removed the bandages with great care. He noted that the eyelids were enormously
swollen, the eyeballs very red, and the pupils covered with thick white scars. She was quite blind. When she found that she
could not see her Fairy Prince, she took his hand, pressed it against her sore, blind eyes, and began to weep softly.
said, “You can cure me. Please do it.” Then he lifted her in his arms, mounted his beautiful fleet, white horse,
and galloped away from the dark woods out into the open fields where the sun shone at its brightest. She complained that the
sun hurt her eyes, and pressed her face against his breast to protect her eyes from the glare of the sun. He advised her to
hold her face up so that the strong light of the sun could shine on her closed eyelids. At first this was painful, but very
soon the strong light felt more and more comfortable, and then the miracle happened. The swollen lids became smaller, the
redness of the eyeballs disappeared, and still more wonderful, the white cloud over her pupils melted away and she could see.
Her joy was unbounded.
“Oh, how handsome you are!” she said. “But why do you blink your eyes so much,
just like a frog?”
“That may be,” he answered. “I have been told that a long while ago one of
my grandfathers was a frog.”
“I don’t care if you were a frog, “she replied. “If you let
me love you, when I grow up I will marry you.”
They then rode on until they came to the woods where the fairies
were. The Prince took the hand of the little girl and walked up to the Queen of the Fairies. He told her what he had done
and that the little girl and he would like to get married after she had grown up.
Someone shouted: “The frog,
he would a-wooing go.” At once the Fairy Prince disappeared, and all that they could see of him was a frog, sitting
on a toadstool, croaking as loud as he knew how.
The Fairy Queen was so indignant that I am quite sure the flames which
started from her eyes would have burned up the speaker. She rushed over to the frog, touched him with her wand, and he again
became a Fairy Prince. The Queen called out in a loud voice:
“You shall always be a Fairy Prince, and no one can
ever change you back to a frog. When your little sweetheart has grown, be sure to bring her back to the fairies on your beautiful
The little girl ran to the Fairy Prince and threw her arms about his neck; she swayed from side to
side, and when she swayed to the right the trees, the world, and all the fairies moved to the left. When she swayed to the
left, everything moved to the right, but it made her eyes feel better, and she kept swaying from side to side for a long time.
The Prince and the little girl were very happy together, and in due time they were married and lived happily ever afterwards.
SIX YEARS OF THE BATES METHOD
By M. F. Husted Supt. of Schools,
North Bergen, N. J.
It is very gratifying to learn that Mr. Husted obtained such wonderful results
in the prevention of myopia in school children. He has been very enthusiastic about this method during the past six years,
and has tested it with great care in a way that is eminently scientific. I believe the evidence he offers to be absolutely
true. My experience during the last twenty years substantiates all that Mr. Husted has written – W.H.B.
October, 1919, the North Bergen school nurse, Miss Marion McNamara, tested the sight of all our pupils. A new education was
begun, a campaign for “Better Eyesight.” In June 1920, a second test was made in order to measure the extent of
progress and shows marvelous, practical, and successful results. This new effort in eye-mind education, to prevent and remove
strain, adds to the already high educational efficiency of our schools by lessening retardation. Not only does eye-mind education
place no additional burden upon the teachers, but by improving the eyesight, health, disposition and mentality of their pupils,
it surely lightens their labors and furnishes an additional means of preventing retardation.
During the year 1923-24,
every class in North Bergen schools, Grades II-VIII, became a conservation of vision class. Each classroom was visited by
the Superintendent, and the values of good eyesight were dwelt upon. Pupils with normal sight volunteered to aid those with
defective vision. They have engaged in this work with a helpful enthusiasm, and teachers have renewed interest. As this work
is a physical training for the education of the eye-mind, teachers were instructed to use some time assigned to Physical Training
or Hygiene to guide the below-normal vision pupils to sufficient proper eye practice for curative effects, and those with
normal sight to sufficient practice for the prevention of eye defects.
Our records for 1924 show a startling condition
of below normal vision among public school students. It also shows the miraculous results of eye-mind education in relieving
strain. Of 128 pupils having glasses, 18 were found with normal vision and 111 had vision below 20/20. It is also shown that
out of 4,026 pupils without glasses, 1,133 had below normal vision. The total below normal vision was 1,244 out Of 4,155 Pupils.
The final results of our 1924 tests are remarkable for the improvement made, and show the wisdom of this special 1924 procedure
and the great value of this wonderful discovery. Of 118 below normal pupils wearing glasses, 89 have improved, and out of
1,072 non-wearing glasses pupils with below normal vision, 693 have improved. Out of a total of 1,190 pupils with below 20/20
vision, 782 have improved. Of those that have improved, 342 have even attained normal vision.
Great care has been taken
to make these reports accurate. The tests were all made by two nurses, assisted by the classroom teachers, and the reports
were all made under nurse supervision.
Our 1925 records prove the wonderful effects of eye-mind education in relieving
strain. Seventy percent of those wearing glasses improved; 87% of those not wearing glasses improved, and 56% of the entire
number benefited attained normal vision.
Because of the prevalence of pupils with defective vision, because of its
great simplicity, and because retardation in schools furnished one of the teachers’ greatest problems, eye-education
is one of the great wonders of this age, and may become a boon of hope to the pupil, a boon of efficiency to the teacher,
and a boon of mercy to humanity.
METHOD POPULAR WITH TEACHERS
Throughout the past
year a group of teachers in one of the city high schools has been much interested in studying the Bates Method. One afternoon
each week, from three to four, we have a “Bates class.” The number attending has varied, sometimes being as many
as fourteen. I feel that the total result has been eminently satisfactory. A great deal of enthusiasm has been aroused and
many people helped.
Different individuals have, of course,
presented different problems. One woman was beginning to feel that her near vision was blurring. She had never worn glasses.
It seemed a very short time-perhaps not more than a month-before her eyes improved so that she could read diamond type. At
present she is able to see the microscopic print in the little Bible.
A man who had worn glasses many years discarded
them last December, and says now he has “forgotten how they feel.”
Another teacher who took off her glasses
two years ago, comes to the class once in a while for a little practice with us when her eyes feel tired.
A certain teacher
with three diopters of hyperopia and presbyopia has made great strides. She has a vivid imagination and never-flagging enthusiasm.
We both feel that her eyes will be normal some day in the near future.
The teachers who come to the class often look
very weary. They always say they feel more rested at the end of the lesson.
Our procedure is the usual one of palming,
swinging, sunning and working with the Snellen test card and fine print.
Some of the teachers who understand the method
come to help teach the others. A student in the school whom I have trained always assists at the classes, and that makes the
handling of the large group much easier.
I am intending to have a similar class next year, and I am sure we are going
to accomplish even more.