No one ever asks the question if bad eyesight can be corrected naturally. For those of us who have bad vision, as soon as we see a blur we automatically book an appointment with the optician.
Once we make that move, unknowingly, we’ve walked into a net where we remain trapped for a lifetime. You and I know the sequence of events that happen from there onwards. We live it frequently whereby we visit our optician every year only to find ourselves needing stronger and stronger glasses each time.
For those of us who want to break the cycle how can we do it? One relatively new option is to consider Lasik Eye Surgery. But even this method has its problems. Firstly, not everyone is suitable for the procedure, and secondly, some people still experience their eyes changing after the surgery.
I’ve recently come to the belief that the human body is a wonderful piece of equipment which has amazing ability to adapt, change and heal if we allow it to. On this blog, I’ve explored a lot of the body’s ability to realign and correct its posture and the brain’s ability to create new neurological pathways to breakthrough old patterns of thinking; so I thought it worthwhile to explore the power of the eyes and it’s ability to heal itself.
In this post, I share the research I have found on the subject as well as my own improvements in my own vision.
There’s also a cool infographic at the bottom which includes a summary of all the points in this post.
My Own Progress
I started using the Bates principles around 3 or 4 months ago and have been seeing good improvements. I wish I could have the data to back it up but I didn’t measure my vision before or after using an eye chart. What I can say is that I notice that the lower prescription glasses I am ordering (more on this later) have gone down in power each time.
If I had to guess how much my eyesight has improved I would estimate that it would be by approximately one diopter. I have nothing to sell or no reason to lie about this, but if you are interested in giving it a go, you can read most of what I have researched and learnt right here.
Is Bad Vision Learned or Inherited?
The number of people suffering from some form of vision impairment is growing rapidly worldwide, including children being prescribed glasses at an increasingly younger age. Most people just blindly accept that if their eyesight is weakening, they will need glasses or contacts.
In the past, it was just assumed that bad eyesight was an inherited trait, and thus had little to do with a person’s habits or pursuits. That line of thinking has been proven to be patently false, when it was discovered that childhood myopia in cultures such as the Inuit can arise in a generation, mostly due to overexposure to screens, books, and artificial light.
To witness people who previously had very few eye-related problems suddenly become dependent on glasses is quite tragic, especially when the simple act of reconnecting to the great outdoors could prevent this from happening.
That Friend Everyone Has Who Never Wore his Glasses
I can’t say with confidence that this is true in your case, but for many of us, we all know a person who was prescribed glasses at a young age so that they could see the board clearly in school. However, he broke the rules in that he never wore them. Chances are, that this person still does not wear glasses or use any kind of visual aid to this date.
On the other hand, I was the kid who put them on and found myself going down that all too familiar route of seeing the diopter figures getting ever larger over time.
In Western culture, all too often people are prescribed glasses as a quick fix for eye problems that could easily be alleviated with a timely application of therapy. As with so many aspects of modern medicine, the idea is to create a lifelong customer for their products, all the while disingenuously stating that they are only responding to the instant gratification demands of the public.
Can we end this cycle and cure myopia and farsightedness using natural means?
Thankfully, a perfectly natural method exists that has the potential to alleviate and/or correct a variety of vision problems without the aid of corrective lenses.
The Bates Method: Enter Dr. Bates
Dr. William H. Bates was a highly respected ophthalmologist who practised his profession in New York City around the turn of the last century. Early in his career, he was driven by a desire to discover the root causes of eye disorders, instead of just alleviating the symptoms.
As Dr. Bates perfected his method over the years, he found that the most effective therapy to cure myopia naturally involved relaxing the mind and eye. His approach didn’t just promote a rigid set of eye exercises and was refreshingly holistic in a rather stiflingly conventional medical era.
While the Bates Method has been proven to help people of all ages with their vision problems, the practice is particularly effective at preventing young children from developing lifelong eye issues. If children are allowed to live a fairly stress-free, play-filled life, along with having a nutrient-packed diet and plenty of time outdoors in the sunshine, the results will be far fewer incidences of myopia that currently plague our youth.
Ophthalmologist, Heal Thyself!
One interesting anecdote about Dr. Bates and his method relates to an incident in his life that speaks volumes about just how successful his procedures are. Like most people, by the time he reached his 50’s, Dr. Bates started to have trouble reading and performing near-vision tasks. He quickly realized that until this dilemma was resolved, he could be seen as a fraud or a fake.
From a medical perspective, this situation took on added significance, as he previously thought that his method only truly applied to myopia. After a year of intense self-therapy, he was finally able to regain the ability to read microscopic type four inches from his eyes. He admitted this result took way longer to achieve than most of his patient’s therapies!
The Key Causes of Bad Vision
Dr. Bates emphasised that the first and most important step you can take on your path to better eyesight is to remove the straining habits that are causing your vision to distort. He further deduced there are three main reasons for strained eyes and subsequent poor eyesight:
- Mental Fatigue – This condition tops the list, as the degree to which someone is in a relaxed state has a direct correlation to blurred vision. It is an often overlooked phenomenon but it is possible that we take our past traumas, stresses and worries and hold it all in our eyes as tension. For example, during our school years, life can become stressful and our eyes hold the tension of those times. We never learn to relax the eyes to release that tension we have held onto over the years.
- Glasses – Although glasses/contacts necessarily play a vital role in modern eyecare, too often they are used as a crutch to correct an end result that years of bad eye habits produced. Ever stronger prescriptions do not solve the root problem and only create more dependency.
- Bad Vision Habits – Most people develop these early in life, and as Dr. Bates personally discovered, are directly related to a child’s classroom activities. This has only gotten worse since the era when had kids in school, for schools now require children to spend much of their time closely perusing digital screens, with no time for proper relief.
The Key to Curing Your Eyesight Naturally
The key to the Bates method and his teaching is to learn to relax the eye muscles. It is a common misconception that to cure myopia you need to practice eye exercises. This is not the case.
It’ all about relaxation. Not exercises. The key is to learn how to use the eyes in a relaxed manner to release that tension. You are learning relaxed vision habits. These are what you do every moment of every day and releases the strain on the muscles.
The next section will outline some of the main ways you can cure your myopia naturally.
1. Accept the Blur Back Into Your Life
Since you now know that relaxation is key, the first and most important step is to accept your blurry vision. If you do not accept your blurry vision then you are fighting against it and that is the antithesis to relaxing.
You need to view the blurriness as a messenger. The blurriness is trying to teach you something as well as indicate that something is not right. What is it trying to teach us? It’s letting us know that we are strained both physically and mentally. We need to learn to start listening to it, to accept it, rather than fighting against it.
If you fight against it by denying it, you will only make things worse.
Squinting and staring also is counterproductive for the same reasons. When we learn to accept the blur, that is when our friend will leave because at that point we will have learnt to relax which is what the blur has wanted us to do all this time.
2. Throw Out the Glasses
So now that you know that you have to accept the blur, what are some practical steps to help us do so?
The first is by getting rid of your glasses. When you get rid of your glasses you acknowledge and invite the blur back into your everyday life.
If your myopia is quite severe this can be a very scary thing to do. If your vision is only one or two diopters then this shouldn’t be too much of a challenge to go about your day without glasses. If on the other hand your vision is quite impaired without your glasses, then you can a reduced prescription that doesn’t give you perfect vision.
Getting a reduced prescription is relatively easy these days. You can ask your optician if they are willing to go along with your quest to cure your myopia naturally and issue you a weaker prescription than normal, however, I found that selecting your own prescription and purchasing them online is far more effective.
This is the more cost-effective route as when your eyesight improves you are likely to have to order new glasses frequently. It’s been less than half a year and I have already had to order three pairs of glasses. If I had ordered them from my local optician this would have been an expensive process.
What Prescription should I get?
It depends on how much blur you are comfortable with. Some people may be comfortable with taking on a greater amount of blur whilst others may only want to do more than a half diopter. However, whatever the amount the most important thing is to welcome back the blur.
The first time I bought glasses I did so online via a 2 for 1 deal, whereby I got two glasses for the price of 1, thus it made sense to get two glasses with two differing prescriptions. On 1 pair I got a prescription where I got my usual prescription except with 0.5 diopters off, and on the second pair I knocked off a whole diopter.
If you have astigmatism it is recommended that you take out the axis and cylinder number on your new prescription.
It is also recommended to use the rule of not wearing glasses sensibly. If you need them for driving then use them, but where possible you want to minimise the time you are using full strength glasses.
A relaxed eye is one that blinks frequently in a non-forced and natural way. As we begin to incorporate more technology into our lives and spend more time in front of a screen we automatically begin to blink less. What we tend to do instead is to stare.
When we stare it means we don’t blink as frequently. We want to keep our eyes open for as long as possible in case we miss something. To relax the eye we need to begin to retrain our eyes to blink in a natural way.
Frequent blinking not only helps our eyes relax, but it also holds a lot of other benefits.
- Blinking keeps the eye lubricated
- It helps cleans the surface of the eye
- It nourishes the cornea
- Helps prevent eye infections
- Gives the eye a short rest
During the day try to catch yourself when you are not blinking or staring. If you do catch yourself staring, shake yourself out of it and do some purposeful blinking. You can either, blink rapidly for up to 30 seconds or you can do one blink and squeeze down hard. With regular self-awareness and forced intervention, your eyes will relearn how to blink naturally.
A healthy eye will blink effortless at a rate of every 2 to 3 seconds. This is the rate you will eventually want to get down to. But the key here is that it must be natural. A natural blink lasts 1/40th of a second which is so quick it will not obstruct or interfere with everyday seeing.
4. Try Not To Stare
This point is just a subset of the above point, but I thought it was so important it deserved its own heading. Do not stare as it can lead to the eyes becoming very tense and tired.
The less a person is fixated and staring at an object, the better off their eyes will be. Once periodic movement back and forth from different distances is practised, the natural blinking that results will help your eyes immensely.
The difficulty with this step is it’s much easier said than done. When you stare, you tend to be fixated on whatever it is you are staring at and therefore it is harder to be self-aware that you are staring. If need be, solicit the help of a friend, relative or spouse to alert you to when you are staring. The more you can become aware of your own staring habit the quicker you can break it and return to natural blinking.
I tend to stare whenever I am on my laptop, especially when I am working. To combat this I have installed a reminder software on my mac that pops up every 15 minutes and covers the screen for 15 seconds with a semi-translucent pop-window. It’s during this time that I use this as a reminder to stop staring and to remind myself to keep up with my healthy eye habits.
5. Understand that Not Everything Can be Clear
One of the key points of the Bates method is the concept of central fixation, whereby clarity in our vision is confined to very small areas of focus. For example, if you hold two fingers at arm’s length in front of your face, and spread them around a foot apart, you should notice that you cannot look at both at the same time and both of them be in focus. Your eye must shift to one finger to focus on it.
You can also increase the intensity of this experiment further by looking closely at your own fingerprints on your hands. if you look at your own fingerprints, you can see two lines that are next to each other, but if you focus in on one line, it gets even clearer.
The better your vision is the smaller area your clarity point will be. This sounds counter-intuitive, however even though someone with good vision will have a smaller clarity point, the clarity within that area will be much clearer.
The lesson here is that for you to improve your vision, you need to understand that your whole field of vision can never be totally clear. The whole field of vision is important and we should keep it open, but the only point that is clear is your centre of attention, which is what you are looking at.
Allowing that centre to be clear whilst allowing the rest to be blurry is the optimal way to use your eyes. To fully understand central fixation you must realise that it isn’t something that you do, but it is something that you should be aware of.
You can’t force central fixation. You have to let go of trying to see one point best and open up to the less clear peripheral vision. Only when you relax like that can central fixation just happen by itself.
6. Be Aware of your Peripheral vision
For us to get the best out of our ability to ‘centrally fixate,’ you need to be constantly aware of your peripheral vision. You do not need this to be in focus, just be aware of it.
As we spend more time in front of screens, we tend to forget about our peripheral vision more and more. When you stare at your iPhone, we tend to tunnel down our vision so we only see the screen and not the area around it (such as the ground beneath you). This can also be said of computer screens. Next time you’re looking at your computer be aware that there are other things around your computer screen, such as the desk, the keyboard, the window next to you etc.
One point to note is that even though you want to be open to your peripheral vision you still want to be only aware of it. Remember that it will be blurry compared to the point you are focusing on (central fixation).
7. Pay Attention to Detail
When you think of relaxing your eyes you may assume that a relaxed eye is one that isn’t moving, that is completely still and at rest. However, this isn’t the case at all. Your eyes love to move. When they don’t get to move as they like, they tense up, particularly when you are staring. However, when they are moving naturally it helps with the blood flow and bringing much-needed nutrients to the eyes.
Natural shifting happens 70 to 100 times per second. You can make your eyes move left and right and do all the exercises you want in all directions, but you can’t consciously force your eyes to move that fast. The only way they can move that fast is if you start developing an attention to detail where you want to look at the finer details of what you are looking at.
Your eyes work a lot better when you’re aware of this. When you stare you lose your centre of clarity. To keep the centre point clear, it needs to be in motion (moving eyes purposefully won’t work), which comes from shifting your attention. Eyes move much more naturally by following your attention. Let your attention lead your eyes.
If you are face to face talking to someone, you can look them in the eyes, but rather than staring, you can focus your attention within that person’s eye and look at the finer details.
8. Give Your Eyes a Rest with Palming
If you have come across the Bates method, this will be the most common technique you would have heard of. This practice is a prime relaxation method, and when performed in the proper setting, can have a wonderful calming effect that really eases eye strain.
To understand what palming is, watch the video below.
Hands are lightly placed over the eyes so that no light can enter, and you can open your eyes without actually “seeing” anything. When coupled with exposure to a muted light source (like a desk lamp) palming will give you immediate stress relief.
9. Healthy Breathing & Good Posture
These two concepts are at the core of his method, as one cannot be achieved without the other. If you are totally relaxed and breathing deeply and abdominally, you will be blessing your eyes with less straining tension and a flood of purifying oxygen.
Out of all the parts of the human body, the brain and the eyes require the most oxygen relative to its size. If you want to regain your clear vision, you must learn how breathe naturally. It’s almost natural to think that, since I am alive, I must be breathing. This is, of course, true, but a lot of us forget how to breathe naturally like we did when we were very young. All the stresses, anxieties and worries cause us to adopt very shallow breathing habits.
What was a shock to myself, is when I started to check in regularly into how I was breathing, to my surprise there were many times, particularly when concentrating when I noticed I was holding my breath!
One way to breathe naturally is to learn to take breaths through the diaphragm rather than the upper chest. If you are breathing properly your belly should be inflating in and out as opposed to the upper chest.
Proper breathing is synonymous with good posture. Since most of us now sit at our desks for most of the day, we tend to slouch, round our shoulders and develop forward head posture and a rounded upper back.
None of these postures is good for optimal breathing as in these positions the diaphragm and lungs are compromised. This is when we tend to develop shallow breathing in the upper chest cavity. If you focus on improving your posture, you will be able to breathe more naturally and thus in return get more oxygen to your eyes.
10. Get Proper Nutrition
Maintaining a proper diet that consists of many diverse sources of vitamins and minerals will do wonders for your eye health. Since the eyes are one of your bodies’ biggest consumers of energy, particular focus should be placed on muscle-building natural protein.
If you want to improve your eye health try to include as many leafy greens in your diet as you can.
11. Relax the Eyes with ‘The Long Swing’
People who have good vision will notice how the background ‘swings’ as they look from left to right. Whilst they may not be able to notice it as they go about their day, if you ask them to notice it, they will be able to.
This is not the case for people with strained eyes. They are not aware of how the peripheral vision swings as you look from side to side.
If you aren’t aware of it, here’s a quick way to notice it:
- Hold your hand up about 15cms in front of your face with fingers spread.
- Move your head, eyes and attention from the pinky tip to the thumb.
- Now if you pay attention to the background whilst still looking between your pinky and thumb, you will notice that the background looks as though it is moving.
- You can generate another effect if you now look behind the pinky and the thumb and switch your focus from side to side. Now it should look as though your hand is moving.
- Both of these effects are ‘apparent’ motion it’s not real motion. This is the ‘swing.’
Noticing and being aware of it will help keep your peripheral vision open and reduce strain. You can bring the swinging sensation into your eyes by using the long swing.
As you do the long swing let your eyes glide through the various points in between each swing, rather than jump. Good eyesight should be smooth, try not to let them jump or hold onto points. The room should be shifting behind you. A lot of people don’t see this.
You can see more motion by holding a finger out and seeing the room move behind you. Then try looking above the finger at where you point (this should be harder). Then remove the finger and try to notice it.
10. Healthy Eyes Need A lot of Light
I mentioned how a good diet is important for good vision, however, letting the eyes experience the full spectrum of light is just as important if not more important for healthy eyesight.
To make sure your eyes get enough sunlight you want to make sure you get out in the sun. Where possible take off your sunglasses. If you live in a region where sunlight is limited particularly in winter, you may want to consider getting an indoor SAD Lamp. See my article on the best SAD lamps.
Relaxation is the Key to Curing your Myopia!
As a child, being told you have to start wearing glasses is one of life’s first bitter disappointments. Most ophthalmologists will give you a general idea over the ensuing years of checkups how your eyesight will progress, and very seldom does this prognosis include anything about eventual improvement. You will most likely have to resign yourself to a lifetime of ever stronger corrective lens prescriptions.
The fact is, in most cases, you don’t need to be enslaved to the eyeglasses industry when there is a perfectly safe way to cure myopia naturally – namely, the Bates Method. Even if you only try a few of the aforementioned techniques and procedures, the results might just encourage you to strive for even greater eye health -naturally
- Esther Joy van der Werf
- Publisher: Visions of Joy
- Paperback: 322 pages
Most of my research has come from the teachings of Esther Joy Van Der Werf from Visionsofjoy.org.
During my time of research, I noticed that a lot of the teachers of the Bates Method seemed to promote the idea that eye exercises are the main way to improve your vision. This seemed to counter all the wonderful research Dr. Bates did. I found Esther’s teaching seemed to make sense and I took her 4 part video course and learnt a lot.
She has a book Optimal Eyesight which which I have not yet read, but imagine that it will consist of much of what is in the video course at a much cheaper price.
I highly recommend getting it for yourself if you want a much more comprehensive read up on how to cure your vision naturally. It would also be a good idea to learn from an expert rather than a novice such as myself!