Vision problems are extremely common complaints. Poor lighting, constant staring at computer screens and other strains contribute to people suffering from imperfect vision. Of course, vision problems are not new problems and there have been innumerable people that have tried to explain why vision degrades. Many of these people have also tried to create methods by which people could improve their vision and help prevent further worsening of their vision. A popular method is eye exercises, especially those created by William Horatio Bates in the late 1800’s.
The Bates Method
William Bates was an ardent believer that vision problems were the result of strain on the eyes. He felt that glasses were a crutch that were not only unnecessary in any situation but could be harmful, increasing the strain on the eyes and further damaging the person’s vision. Bates also believed that much of the strain on a person’s eyes was physiological. That is, that the eyeball actually changed in shape when attempting to focus on something, and that this change, when forced to be dramatic, caused strain. Bates eye exercises intended to strengthen the eye, making these changes in shape less drastic and thereby reducing the strain they caused on the eye. Bates also felt that exposure to sunlight would relieve the constant strain on eyes and improve vision.
One of the Bates eye exercises meant to reduce strain was referred to as “palming”. During this process patients were encouraged to close their eyes for several minutes and relax. By covering the eyes with the palms of their hands, without pressing on the eyes, the relaxation was deepened and the strain released. Bates believed that if the patient was truly relaxed he would see intense blackness and that any of the natural colors or lights experienced when a person closes his eyes was caused by eye strain and would disappear when he was fully relaxed.
Another of the Bates eye exercises that was meant to improve vision was visualization. By visualizing blackness, Bates asserted, a patient could improve not only his imagination but his actual vision as well.
One type of eye complaint is amblyopia, or more commonly, lazy eye. A lazy eye is one that does not effectively communicate with the brain. It often does not cooperate with the other eye to create full sight, and sometimes “wanders” or appears to move around by itself. Lazy eye exercises can be effective in not only correcting the appearance of a lazy eye, but restoring cooperation between both eyes, and communication between the lazy eye and the brain.
One of the most common, and arguably most effective, lazy eye exercises is actually not a real “exercise” at all. Rather, it involves covering the healthy eye with a patch that totally removes all sight from that eye. The lazy eye is then forced to communicate with the brain, working harder to see and remain focuses. This is what is considered the “exercise”. When done regularly, wearing a eye patch can correct the amblyopia and allow both eyes to work together to improve vision and prevent future worsening of the eye condition.