Sight Without Glasses
I was 6 or 7 years old when my father took me to an optometrist for the first time, and for no obvious reason. I did not have a problem with my vision that I was aware of but I was diagnosed as nearsighted and prescribed glasses. I was brought back every year or so and was repeatedly prescribed stronger glasses. By the time I was in high school my prescription was 20/300 in both eyes. When I was about 17 years old I decided to get contact lenses. I was told that my prescription was too strong for soft lenses, which were the new thing at the time, and I needed hard lenses. I had a good optometrist who repeatedly adjusted the lenses until they were comfortable to wear all day long and I was quite happy with them until I was drafted into the Army at 19 years old (in 1965) and I was issued two pair of glasses and told that I needed to wear them in basic training. I used both the glasses and contacts while in the Army. Several years after getting out of the Army when I lost a lens I found that my original optometrist was no longer practicing and when I went to another optometrist he provided off the shelf hard lenses but made no adjustments to them and they were uncomfortable from the start and I was never able to get used to them and returned to wearing glasses for the next 10 years. My prescription remained pretty much unchanged at 20/300 from High School until years after being in the Army.
In the early 1980’s I found a book in someone’s garage entitled “Sight Without Glasses” by Dr. Harrold M Peppard that was published in 1946 (The year I was born). It was written by a student of Dr. William Horatio Bates (1860-1931) who had written a book entitled “Perfect Sight Without Glasses” in 1920 which I have never been able to get a copy of, but Dr Peppard was a student of Dr. Bates and his book explained the “Bates Method”, an alternative method of improving eyesight, which I had never heard about before. According to this theory changes in focus (nearsightedness and farsightedness) were not a result of changes in the shape of the eyeball, but rather tension of 6 muscles that helped the eyes focus. When the eyes were ‘out of focus’ and glasses are used the eye muscle relax, or tense up, even more and go further out of focus so that stronger glasses are then needed, leading to the eye going further out of focus in a vicious cycle. Nearsightedness, usually occurring in the young, is due to constant focusing on close objects and not using the eyes to focus at objects far away. Farsightedness, usually occurring in middle age, is due to eye strain where the eyes become unable to focus on close objects and the focal point moves further away. In both cases corrective lenses make the problem worse and stronger lenses invariably become necessary. The situation is worse for someone who is farsighted because as their vision shifts more they become unable to see clearly near or far, with or without glasses. Fortunately farsightedness is easier to correct by removing the glasses and regaining normal focus using exercises to readjust the eye muscles.
I began doing the recommended exercises and stopped wearing glasses and sure enough my vision gradually began to improve so that when I moved to Pennsylvania and went for my drivers license test my vision had improved so that I no longer needed corrective lenses to drive. When I first looked through the eye testing machine at the DMV I saw 4 letters but it was difficult to focus on them. I was able to bring them into focus one at a time until I had read three of them, but then my eyes blurred out and I could not read the fourth letter. I thought I had failed but was told that this was the 20/40 line and I only needed to read the 20/70 line to pass the exam. When the 20/70 line was put up my eyes were strained from trying to focus on the 20/40 line and it took me a few seconds for me to relax my eyes but then the entire line of 4 letters came into focus and I easily read the entire line. This put my vision somewhere between 20/40 and 20/70. A large improvement from 20/300 which I previously though was my ‘normal’ vision. While I expect my vision has improved somewhat since that eye exam so that my vision sometimes appears to be perfectly clear (20/20?) there is no doubt that my vision had been severely ‘crippled’ by the years I had let my eyes remain focused at 20/300.
If you try to find out more about the Bates Method you will probably learn that reports of success by the Bates Method are ‘anecdotal’ and not objectively shown to improve eyesight. In 1952 optometry professor Elwin Marg wrote of Bates, “Most of his theories have been considered false by practically all visual scientists”. Clearly this is the opinion of an optometrist who would not want people to improve their vision naturally so that they no longer needed to use glasses, similar to cancer doctors who want to preserve the profitability of radiation, chemotherapy and surgery and refuse to acknowledge that cancer can be prevented and/or cured by natural methods such as diet, detox and stress reduction.
Eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration are due to physical damage to the lens and macula of the eye that can be attributed to poor diet resulting in oxidation of the lens or malnourishment of the macula due to lack of nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin, found in vegetables and egg yolks and which give the yellow color to the fat of grass fed beef, as well as Omega 3 fatty acids also needed for healthy vision/eyes, although stress also contributes to these conditions. Nearsightedness,farsightedness and astigmatism on the other hand are problems of refraction which are caused by failure of the image from the lens to focus on the retina. This can be corrected by corrective lenses or simply adjusting the tension of the eye muscles with simple relaxation exercises.
When we are young our eyes naturally learn to come into focus. If we give an infant objects to focus on at varying distances they will naturally learn to focus at the various distances. This can include hanging objects over the crib, having patterned wallpaper, or even leaving the infant gaze at the moon and stars in the night sky (assuming there are still stars in the night sky where you live, but that’s another problem). Children should be given the opportunity to focus not only at close objects such as computer screens, but also distant objects as when they are outdoors.
Three good habits recommended for good vision are 1) blinking (to keep the lens moist and exercise the eye muscles). Blinking is something that is normally done by a healthy eye and a tendency to stare without blinking impairs normal vision. 2) Central Fixation (Where the eye and mind fix on a small area at one time rather than trying to take in an entire large area) An example of this is while reading you don’t try to take in the whole page at one time, but focus on one word at a time. and 3) Shifting (Constantly moving your focus, as from one word to the next, or when looking at a picture moving your focus from one part of the picture to another) This keeps the eye muscles moving and relaxed and prevents eye strain.
It is also important to have sufficient lighting since trying to read or just examine an object with insufficient light can cause eyestrain. When there is insufficient light the pupil increases in size and when there is bright light the pupil decreases in size closing out excess light (like the lens of a camera) so the eye is able to adapt to varying amounts of light. In bright light when the pupil closes you have a sharper focus, just as the camera image is sharper with bright lights and a smaller aperture. Sunning your eyes is also considered beneficial, both relaxing and stimulating the eye. People who live indoors all the time and don’t expose their eyes to sunlight will find their eyes gradually grow weaker. Gradually increasing your exposure to sunlight by spending more time in the sun and gradually looking at the sky near the sun as you build up your tolerance over time will strengthen your eyes and improve your vision causing pleasure not pain. While staring at the sun can be damaging, just like getting a bad sunburn, gradually building up your time looking near the sun, for example at sunrise and sunset, is beneficial. It is known that mules used in mines in Wales, living underground with only artificial light will go blind, while birds that wake with the sun and sleep when the sun goes down have remarkably keen vision.
Often headaches attributed to poor vision can be relieved by changes in diet or removal of impacted wisdom teeth, relieving the headache and allowing the eyes to regain normal focus, rather than resorting to prescription glasses to relieve the headache, which doesn’t necessarily work anyway. When a headache is caused by the eyes, it can invariably be relieved by instructions in the principles of normal vision without resorting to glasses such as bringing the eyes to focus at an optimal distance of about 14 inches. If you develop a headache don’t look to glasses as the cure, look for the root cause elsewhere.
There is much more in a book than can be explained in a blogpost, and over time I have purchased several additional ‘programs’ that offer additional insights and exercises to help improve and strengthen the eyes and I hope to provide more information in the future. The basic message is that human beings are designed to have perfect vision without glasses. If you are being taken down the rabbit hole of being prescribed glasses, or stronger and stronger glasses, consider taking action to cast away these crutches. Either stop wearing glasses, or start wearing weaker glasses instead of stronger ones, and exercise your eye muscles as you would any other muscles to regain the normal healthy vision you were designed to have.