Sassisailor’s Weblog

A description of my journey to improve my eyesight naturally

Overview of my vision improvement and the things that worked best September 17, 2008

Filed under: Bates Method,Relaxation Techniques — sassisailor @ 6:11 pm

A reader on my blog requested that I give an overview of what has been most helpful for me during the last 9 months.  I think this is a great idea because for anyone who is just starting to read my blog it would take forever to read through all of my previous posts; there are 145 not including this one!  Everyone’s time is prescious and I would hate for you to miss out on learning something from my experience because you dont’ have time to read my archives.  I probably wouldn’t read them all if I came across this blog!  It would just take too long.   I will make a list as I find lists easier to assimilate and read.

To summarize, I learned about the Bates Method last December from my sister (who is also improving her vision, her screen name is sorrisi).  I began with a prescription of -8 diopters in my right eye and -7.25 diopters in my left eye.  I now can use -5 diopter lenses for any situation requiring 20/40 vision or better (driving, hunting) and wear -4.25 diopter lenses any other time I REQUIRE lenses (work situations, grocery store sometimes, sometimes computer).  All other times I go without.  I am also transitioning to -3.75 D glasses for the computer.  These work for my office computer which is more difficult to see than my home computer which I can usually read without glasses.  I purchased a focometer from InFocus (online) and am using this to measure my refractive error myself.  It is an instrument used by eye doctors to measure refractive error in countries where they don’t have access to the expensive equipment found in an ODs office.  It is easy to use, and has been accurate for me.  The results from my focometer are showing improvement!  I purchase my reduced lenses through Zenni Optical (online). I live in the US though, not sure if they ship overseas?  They are cheap ($8, $4.95 for shipping) and have been working well for me over the last eight months.  I have not worn contacts since I began which is the longest I’ve gone without contacts since I began wearing them at the age of 16; I’m now 29.  I started wearing glasses at age 7 or 8 (2nd grade).  Whew… sorry if that was long-winded!  I want to make sure this is a comprehensive summary 🙂 

  • MOST IMPORTANT to my progress:  going without glasses as often as possible, looking into the distance, and letting my eyes look around and trace objects (shifting and sketching).  Sounds easy, but it’s HARD to learn to let go of these crutches and even harder to explore and push the limits of when they are even necessary.
  • NEXT MOST IMPORTANT to my progress: wearing reduced lenses (at least 0.5 to 0.75 diopters below what is required for 20/20 vision, even more reduced for computer/near work) only when I really need lenses.
  • Autogenics training, though this was incredibly helpful for me I think that palming can be just as helpful if you bring your attention to your breath and body.  I’m glad I did it though, it helped guide me towards a good method for relaxation and taught me about awareness.  See link on my blogroll for free Autogenics Training instructions.
  • Breathing correctly and blinking more frequently and correctly.   I previously had shallow breathing habits and did not blink very often. 
  • Palming, long swings, and sunning.  These three Bates principles have been cornerstones to my improvement because they remind me to relax and remember to not overwork my eyes.  When I am not practicing these three things my progress halts and I can feel tension creeping back into my eyes, face, shoulders and neck.    One thing I’ve become aware of is that I keep using my eyes even though they are tired and require resting.  Palming has been a great tool for taking a break, resting my eyes, and bringing my attention back to healthy natural vision habits (shifting, breathing, and blinking). 
  • Awareness.  Learn to start paying attention to your breath, your eyes, your hands, your posture, your mood, etc… Calm the mindless chatter going on in your head and just be.  This is a life-long pursuit, but has great benefits for vision improvement.  “The Joy of Living” and “A New Earth” or “The Power of Now” are great books if you’re interested in exploring this path.  I include this here as helpful for my vision because it has been an intrinsic part of my life and I am unable to exclude things I do from helping my vision.  Who’s to know exactly what helps and what doesn’t?  I think it can be unique for each person, though there are threads of similarity between every person’s experience.
  • Reading as many books on vision improvement as possible; “Relearning to See” by Quackenbush, any and all articles from Bates’ “Better Eyesight” magazines, “Help Yourself to Better Sight” by Corbett, and “Take Off Your Glasses and See” by Liberman.  My sister would recommend “The Art of Seeing” by Huxley, though I haven’t read it myself. 
  • Take advantage of all the free material on the internet concerning vision improvement — see my ‘blogroll’ for links, one great site that is very comprehensive is the cleareyesight.info website.  I didn’t find out about this website until about a month ago, but if you are short on time I would recommend checking out this website to get you going.  It has almost everything you would read about in the book list above (excluding some of Liberman’s stuff).  The books are great though too, so if you have time, definitely read as much as you have time for. 

I think this is all; if I remember something I forgot to mention I will edit this post and add things in italics below this text here.  If you have questions or are curious about my experiences please don’t hesitate to post a comment.    Best of luck in your own vision improvement!

 

Additional notes:

Sept. 19, 2008:  I forgot to mention two very important points that Nancy and Ram brought up.  1. I have not used sunglasses since I started my vision improvement.  It took some time to readjust to the natural light levels, but now my eyes are not sensitive to outdoor sunlight (which should be natural!).  and 2. I try to get as much natural light as possible.  Our vision is best in natural light, so I frequently read outside and keep the curtains open in my house at all times to help let in more light.   Luckily at work there are some big windows, but they are north facing.  I also have been practicing closed-lid sunning for the past 9 months and this continues to be tremendously helpful.   Never, ever, ever look at the sun directly or do closed-lid sunning while wearing glasses.  Just remember the idea of burning ants with a magnifying glass and that should be enough incentive.  I think this is how many people develop such sensitivity to the sun because lenses create a much stronger light on the retina than is normally experienced without glasses.  Then they start wearing sunglasses and it easily becomes a cycle of dependence on the sunglasses.

September 24, 2008:  One of my friends is also doing natural vision improvement and has successfully ordered glasses from Zenni and they were shipped to Ireland.  So in case anyone is wondering, Zenni can ship anywhere in the world. 

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July 6, 2008 July 7, 2008

Filed under: Bates Method,My Daily Progress — sassisailor @ 3:08 pm

Completed:

  • Mostly palmed – palmed for periods greather than 15 minutes which generated a nice warm feeling over my eyes. 
  • Time outside practicing my natural vision habits
  • Went all day WOG

I think one of the therapeutic benefits from palming results from the heat generated from having the palms cover the eyes for extended periods.  If you notice, Bates always recommended palming for at least more than a few minutes and I believe recommended an hour per day.  These long palming sessions give adequate time for heat to build up and circulate over the eyes.  Heat has always been known to help tension.   Here is an article from the Better Eyesight magazines where Bates discusses palming:

From Better Eyesight, December 1924 

by W.H. Bates M.D.

“By palming is meant that the eyes are covered by the palms of one or both hands with the eyes closed.  The object of palming is to obtain relaxation or rest of the eyes and mind.  With the eyes closed and covered, the patient does not see.  When propoerly done, the field is black and the patient does not really see anything.  Most patients when they palm however, imagine they see a great many things, especially different colored lights, red, green, shades of blue and white lights in a single or multiple form, for various perods of time. 

When the patient palms successfully and obtains perfect relaxation, he imagines he sees a perfect black.  The number of people who can do this is small, and it can only be accomplished by individiuals who have perfect sight.

While palming, one does not obtain relaxation by any kind of an effort or a strain.  When nothing is done, one does not do anything.  It is well to realize that palming may be done properly, or it may be done wrong.”

 

Weekend notes (March 29,30) March 31, 2008

Filed under: Bates Method,Eyebody Method,My Daily Progress,Relaxation Techniques — sassisailor @ 9:14 am

This weekend I was able to spend a significant amount of time without glasses and am still able to read 20/70 (however, I need to note that these letters are not perfectly black;  I can discern what they are but they are not perfect).  I am working on writing up a post to discuss this issue and my theory on why my Snellen chart readings do not correlate to the lens power I require.

My whole philosophy is changing on the Bates Method.  While I still love and value all of the Bates magazines and believe that the key to vision improvement resides in this initial research I have been questioning the way I have approached the Bates Method.   When I first began learning about this method I became very obsessed with only the work done by Bates; thinking that this was the only source I should consider and I should exactly follow the methods outlined in his magazines.  Ever since I met with Greg Marsh I have realized that this was a naive and close-minded approach to this opportunity of vision improvement.  Just like anything in life, there are always other perspectives and methods, including those that we “invent” ourselves that can work just as well.  I don’t believe there is one and only one way to improve vision.  Becoming addicted (I used this word intentionally) to a negative lens (which is what has happened to me) is a long and complicated process that nobody fully understands.  And I believe this to definitely be true, nobody fully understands what happens physiologically when we wear a negative lens.  Glasses work in a very unnatural way by focusing all of the incoming light directly onto our fovea.  Our fovea only contains 5% of the photoreceptors on our retina, thus leaving the other 95% completely unstimulated.  What does this do to the neural pathways leading to and within our visual cortex?  How can we “rewire” our visual cortex if we’re constantly switching back and forth between wearing glasses and not wearing glasses?  (I believe it can be done, I just think this is why it takes so much longer).   Anyway, I’m getting off track- I’m going to save this discussion for another post.  My point is, I believe that becoming attached to only the Bates method can exclude many other methods that may work for improving vision and can blind us to the overall reason we can improve our vision.  It’s not specifically the long swing and palming that fixes our vision (and Bates knew this) but I think that some of us focus on these very specific relaxation exercises (or others) and think if we do these perfectly and regimented everyday we will regain clear vision.  I love the long swing and palming and find them both very useful tools in improving my vision, but I also believe there could be other ways of doing things and we should be asking ourselves, why do these work? … focusing on really paying attention and bringing awareness to every part of our body during these exercises to notice how they affect us physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Bates’s work is being continued it’s just not blatantly apparent.  For instance, Peter Grunwald (the author of Eyebody and the man who discovered the Eyebody Patterns) is in essence, continuing the work started by Bates.  It may look like it’s not because it’s taking a new shape (by focusing on the upper visual cortex and experiential anatomy) but this is what happens over time; ideas evolve and new correlations are made.  How many others are also doing the same but disguised under differently named methods or philosophies?  But for those of us who get stuck in strictly Bates method’s I think we believe that only Bates did this work and there hasn’t been anything new, and this is not true.  We must all keep our minds open and be looking for other techniques that hold value.   I am still in, what I consider, my intellectual infancy with respect to vision improvement knowledge; but I hope that over the course of my lifetime I can make a contribution to this effort and I hope that all of you out there who are reading my posts can have success with your own vision improvement.  And I would encourage each of you to document your experiences and publish them in order to increase the amount of available information and personal experience documenting the success of any and all of these vision improvement methods.  Each of us can have a significant impact and part in changing eye care methods worldwide which will dramatically change the way future generations see and experience life.

 

Swinging February 11, 2008

Filed under: Bates Method,My Daily Progress — sassisailor @ 9:32 pm

I have finally “found peace” with my swinging 🙂

When I practice swinging I first start by simple swaying to notice the oppositional movements of whatever is in front of me. I only do this for a few seconds usually (though it is what I use almost exclusively for my test card readings).

When I refer to swinging, I am doing the long swing as described in the January 1926 issue of the Better Eyesight magazines by William H. Bates. I do not focus on anything while I am swinging, I let my eyes completely relax. I relax my body, start swinging, and make a conscious effort to blink frequently and breathe abdominally. In “Help Yourself to Better Sight” by Margaret Corbett she recommends counting out-loud. I do 100 swings while counting out-loud. The counting makes sure that you’re breathing frequently, as it’s impossible to talk and not breathe!

Also, when I swing I let my eyes move with my head without “holding on” to anything in my line of sight. After a few swings this results in a very continuous view of my ‘swing-line’, the area I’m swinging. I do my swings at whatever speed is most comfortable for that time and day.

Sometimes I will do the long swing in front of a test card. I can tell I have reached relaxation because sometimes as I swing across the card I will see that my vision is clearing. I usually ruin this because I’m so excited that I look back at the card to see what I can see rather than letting my mind and vision remain relaxed and swinging. So this is something I’m still working on.

The counting has made all the difference in my swinging practice. I used to find swinging tedious, boring, and useless. Since I’ve limited my swinging to sets of 100 I have found it much more relaxing and less stressful. Before I discovered the benefits of counting my swings my mind would wander and I would just wonder how long I should continue swinging. Also, I used to think it was more complicated and that I was missing something in my swinging practice. Since I have begun counting my swings, I have realized that there is nothing complex, mystical, or special about the swinging motion. It is this simple movement alone that is beneficial and I truly believe if we can focus on this simple act and learn to let our muscles relax it is of the great benefit that Bates and Bates teachers say it is. It is only when we find it frustrating, tiresome, and boring that it is actually counterproductive and useless.

**Edit: I forgot to mention: I always direct my gaze in a comfortable downward glance as this is supposed to be the most natural posture for the eyes. **

**Edit: Also, I consider one swing count as a complete set, meaning swinging left and then right is one, swinging left and right again would be two, etc…**

 

Review of “Relearning to See” by T.R. Quackenbush

Filed under: Bates Method,Book Reviews — sassisailor @ 4:49 pm

First of all, this book is very well written. It covers an amazing amount of detail, in what I found to be a very “easy to read” format.

This book took me a few weeks to read and after completion I felt I had a clear understanding of the following:

  • The cause of refractive error and eye disorders
  • Understanding how refractive error is measured (subjectively and objectively)
  • Snellen charts
  • The reason our eyes cannot improve while we are wearing glasses or contact lenses
  • Muscle strain, tension, stress, and strain are all related to imperfect vision, headaches, shoulder and neck strain, and an imperfect memory (among other physiological symptoms)
  • Accommodation must be a combination of both the crystalline lens AND the extraocular muscles
  • Key components of natural vision: Movement, Centralization, and Relaxation
  • Seeing naturally requires sketching, breathing, and blinking!
  • The importance of natural daylight, UV included
  • Functional anatomy of the eye
  • How the brain is involved in “seeing” and left brain vs right brain function
  • Naturopathy for general well-being
  • Using palming and acupressure for vision therapy
  • How to read correctly, not seeing the whole sentence at one time but sweeping the eyes over each letter, through the center, all the way across the line and then moving the eyes down to the next line, etc.
  • Why so many children require glasses
  • Read as small of print as possible to keep the near vision good!

I’m sure you could deduce from the table of contents that this is what you would basically learn from the book. However, I would like to emphasize that this book gave me a very thorough understanding of the mechanisms of correct and natural vision BUT it didn’t leave me with the feeling that I knew very well how to proceed to correct my own vision.

Each component of the Bates Method was described as to what it was, but not very precisely about how to incorporate these methods into your daily routine. I would say this book is a good (albeit very long) introduction to the causes of incorrect vision and the methods used to correct vision, but it was not a very good guide for me to understand what to do next. I am very glad I read it though, but I am also very happy that I have other books to reference.

The Better Eyesight magazines offer much more insightful information about the methods used by Bates to specifically correct different visual errors and the articles concerning the experiences of his patients are very encouraging. Another excellent resource is “Help Yourself to Better Sight” by Margaret Corbett. I think with any topic it is just generally helpful to have a variety of writings to reference as each person describes things differently.

My most blunt advice: if you want to thoroughly understand the mechanics of vision and how the Bates Method works read this book. If you’re not the type of person who likes to know something inside out I would recommend reading Margaret Corbett’s book first as it is very concise and helpful, and then reference the Better Eyesight magazines as you have specific questions.

**There are some very useful comments about this post that are definitely worth noting.  Quackenbush and the Goodrich lineage use the terms sketching and centralization, whereas the Bates Method uses shifting and central fixation.  The terms sketching and shifting are not synonymous; likewise centralization and central fixation are not synonymous.  There is a description of the differences between these in the comments section of this post**

 

February 6, 2008 February 7, 2008

Filed under: Bates Method,Clear Flashes!,My Daily Progress — sassisailor @ 10:36 am

I have two important things to share today!

First:  I was taking a short break at work and went out of my office and walked around the halls.  While I was out of my office I was certain I had grabbed my -5reduced glasses (just in case I needed them).  I put them on in the hall because I saw someone I wasn’t sure if I knew and I was seeing just as if I had my -5reduced pair on.  But when I got back to my office I saw my red glasses (the -5reduced) on my desk!  Immediately I realized I had on my stronger pair and I then was able to see everything much sharper!  So I had had on my 20/20 pair of glasses accidentally but I was seeing like I do with my -5reduced pair!!!  I couldn’t believe that my mind could see “poorly” with my sharpest glasses on just because I thought they were my reduced pair.  It was an unbelievable realization of how powerful the mind is and the role it plays in our vision.  I only wish that someone could put fake lenses in my glasses without me knowing it to see if I could actually see well thinking that I had full strength lenses in.

The second thing that I experimented with today was the black period that Bates talks so frequently about.  I read two chapters in his book Perfect Sight Without Glasses, the chapter on Memory as an aid to vision, and Imagination as an aid to vision.  I was reading about the profound effectiveness of being able to visualize a perfectly black period and holding this imaginated image while looking at letters on a test card.  So I took some very white 3″x5″ index cards and with a black sharpie I drew a period on each index card, of different sizes, in the center of the card.  Next, I would look at an index card, close my eyes to image it, then look at the card again, imagine what I saw etc.  I kept doing this for about 30-40 minute (I’m not sure how long).  Then after doing this I looked at a small test card approximately 2.5 feet away (I didn’t measure).  What I noticed over the course of less than one hour was that I went from being able to see only the top letter to being able to almost read the fourth line!  It was not a clear and permanent state, but when I would look at the period and then visualize it, my vision was clearer after I opened my eyes.  I would not continue staring at the test card however, but would switch to looking at the period I had drawn, then imagine it in my mind, and look at the test card.  I was utterly surprised and excited at how well this helped to clear my vision.  After I finished looking at the periods I looked at my big test card on the wall from 10 feet and was able to read the second line for a few minutes!  Then it went away  because I stopped thinking about the black period and was “seeing” with effort.  Here are some good quotes from the PSWG book (available online in its entirety at http://www.central-fixation.com):

“The condition of mind in which a black period can be remembered cannot be attained by any sort of effort. The memory is not the cause of the relaxation, but must be preceded by it. It is obtained only during moments of relaxation, and retained only as long as the causes of strain are avoided; but how this is accomplished cannot be fully explained, just as many other psychological phenomena cannot be explained. We only know that under certain conditions that might be called favorable a degree of relaxation sufficient for the memory of a black period is possible, and that, by persistently seeking these condition, the patient becomes able to increase the degree of the relaxation and prolong its duration, and finally becomes able to retain it under unfavorable conditions.”  PSWG Chapter XIII: Memory as an aid to vision

“Imagination is closely allied to memory, although distinct from it. Imagination depends upon the memory, because a thing can be imagined only as well as it can be remembered. You cannot imagine a sunset unless you have seen one; and if you attempt to imagine a blue sun, which you have never seen, you will become myopic, as indicated by simultaneous retinoscopy. Neither imagination nor memory can be perfect unless the mind is perfectly relaxed. Therefore when the imagination and memory are perfect, the sight is perfect. Imagination, memory and sight are, in fact, coincident. When one is perfect, all are perfect, and when one is imperfect, all are imperfect. If you imagine a letter perfectly, you will see the letter and other letters in its neighborhood will come out more distinctly, because it is impossible for you to relax and imagine you see a perfect letter and at the same time strain and actually see an imperfect one. If you imagine a perfect period on the bottom of a letter, you will see the letter perfectly, because you cannot take the mental picture of a perfect period and put it on an imperfect letter. It is possible, however, as pointed out in the preceding chapter, for sight to be unconscious. In some cases patients may imagine the period perfectly, as demonstrated by the retinoscope, without being conscious of seeing the letter; and it is often some time before they are able to be conscious of it without losing the period.”

PSWG Chapter XIV: Imagination as an aid to vision.

 

My morning routine January 22, 2008

Filed under: Bates Method — sassisailor @ 7:49 pm

This is my morning Bates routine. I found this information in a “Better Eyesight” magazine article. I summarized this routine from the following article:

Bates, Emily A. Suggestions for Myopic Patients. “Better Eyesight”. April 1930, Vol. XIV, No.10.   Located here: http://www.central-fixation.com/bem/bettereyesight_1930_04.htm#suggestions

  • Awake in morning
  • While still in bed
    • sit up
    • palm (think of a flower or the color of it- anything you can visualize perfectly and pleasantly).
    • don’t consider the length of time while palming. continue until you’re perfectly relaxed
  • Rise from bed; the mind is relaxed
  • Practice the sway
    • don’t forget to blink!
  • Do the long sway
    • don’t pay attention to the head or eyes, let your body do the moving
    • do not pay attention to the stationary objects which appear to be moving
  • Get dressed
    • keep blinking! (do not blink fast)
    • the eyes will be at rest if they move gently when you blink
  • Before going to work
    • Practice the sway and long swing with four test cards (the ‘C’ card, the black background ‘C’ card, the number card, and the inverted E card.
    • C card should be > arms length away on the right
    • Black background C card greater than arms length away on the left
    • # card six feet to the left (it is closer than this for me)
    • inverted E card six feet to the right (closer than six feet for me)
    • Start the sway
      • don’t pay attention to anything
      • look at the wall
      • blink, sway, etc…
      • notice the oppositional movement of the test cards
      • do not exert effort
      • “Better vision comes without effort”
      • never stop blinking
    • Start the long swing after you notice oppositional movement
      • flash a letter on the C card as you swing right
      • notice a letter on the black card as you swing left
      • MOVE THE BODY- NOT JUST HEAD AND EYES
      • flash a number on the # card while swinging to the left
      • flash any inverted E while swinging right
      • Each day try to flash a letter on a lower line.

*** The amount of time devoted to these methods is proportional to improvement!!!***