Underlying concepts Accommodation Accommodation is the process by which the eye increases optical power to maintain focus on the retina while shifting its gaze to a closer point. Bates rejected this explanation, and in his book presented photographs that he said showed that the image remained the same size even as the eye shifted focus, concluding from this that the lens was not a factor in accommodation. However, optometrist Philip Pollack in a work characterized these photographs as "so blurred that it is impossible to tell whether one image is larger than the other", in contrast to later photographs that clearly showed a change in the size of the reflected images, just as had been observed since the late 19th century. Bensinger stated, "When we put drops in the eye to dilate the pupil, they paralyze the focusing muscles. The notion that external muscles affect focusing is totally wrong. Bates characterized this supposed muscular tension as the consequence of a "mental strain" to see, the relief of which he claimed would instantly improve sight.
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Underlying concepts Accommodation Accommodation is the process by which the eye increases optical power to maintain focus on the retina while shifting its gaze to a closer point. Bates rejected this explanation, and in his book presented photographs that he said showed that the image remained the same size even as the eye shifted focus, concluding from this that the lens was not a factor in accommodation. However, optometrist Philip Pollack in a work characterized these photographs as "so blurred that it is impossible to tell whether one image is larger than the other", in contrast to later photographs that clearly showed a change in the size of the reflected images, just as had been observed since the late 19th century.
Bensinger stated, "When we put drops in the eye to dilate the pupil, they paralyze the focusing muscles. The notion that external muscles affect focusing is totally wrong. Bates characterized this supposed muscular tension as the consequence of a "mental strain" to see, the relief of which he claimed would instantly improve sight. In his view, "strain" would increase as the eyes adjust to the correction in front of them.
He thus recommended that glasses be discarded by anyone applying his method. These techniques were all supposed to relieve "strain" to which Bates attributed sight problems. Bates suggested closing the eyes for minutes at a time to help bring about relaxation.
However, he reported that some of his patients experienced "illusions of lights and colors" sometimes amounting to "kaleidoscopic appearances" as they "palmed", occurrences he attributed to his ubiquitous "strain" and that he claimed disappeared when one truly relaxed.
In fact, even in conditions of perfect darkness, as inside a cave, neurons at every level of the visual system produce random background activity that is interpreted by the brain as patterns of light and color. He suggested "shifting", or moving the eyes back and forth to get an illusion of objects "swinging" in the opposite direction.
He believed that the smaller the area over which the "swing" was experienced, the greater was the benefit to sight. He combined this with visualization, advocating that patients close their eyes and imagine movement of objects. By alternating actual and mental shifting over an image, Bates wrote, many patients were quickly able to shorten the "shift" to a point where they could "conceive and swing a letter the size of a period in a newspaper".
Bates advocated sungazing , characterizing ill effects as "always temporary". This is at variance with the well-known risk of eye damage that can result from direct sunlight observation. Leavitt has argued that the method Bates described would be difficult to test scientifically due to his emphasis on relaxation and visualization.
Leavitt asked, "How can we tell whether someone has relaxed or imagined something, or just thinks that he or she has imagined it? She became his pupil, and eventually taught his method at her School of Eye Education in Los Angeles. At the trial, many of her students testified on her behalf, describing in detail how she had enabled them to discard their glasses. One witness testified that he had been almost blind from cataracts, but that after working with Corbett, his vision had improved to such an extent that for the first time he could read for eight hours at a stretch without glasses.
Corbett explained in court that she was practicing neither optometry nor ophthalmology and represented herself not as a doctor, but only as an "instructor of eye training". Describing her method, she said, "We turn vision on by teaching the eyes to shift.
We want the sense of motion to relieve staring, to end the fixed look. We use light to relax the eyes and to accustom them to the sun.
The case spurred a bill in the Californian State Legislature that would have then made such vision education illegal without an optometric or medical license.
After a lively campaign in the media, the bill was rejected. This was mainly due to opacities in both corneas , complicated by hyperopia and astigmatism. He was able to read only if he wore thick glasses and dilated his better pupil with atropine , to allow that eye to see around an opacity in the center of the cornea. At the present time, my vision, though very far from normal, is about twice as good as it used to be when I wore spectacles.
Ophthalmologist Walter B. Lancaster, for example, suggested in that Huxley had "learned how to use what he has to better advantage" by training the "cerebral part of seeing", rather than actually improving the quality of the image on the retina. He had learned it by heart. To refresh his memory, he brought the paper closer and closer to his eyes. It was an agonizing moment.
Most base their approach in the Bates method, though some also integrate vision therapy techniques. The book included accounts of 12 "real cases", but did not report any information about refractive error.
Although he has testimonials from his neighbor and others, several of his students indicate that he has greatly exaggerated their cases. A cataract when first setting in sometimes results in much improved eyesight for a short time. One who happens to have been practicing the Bates method will likely credit it for any improvement experienced regardless of the actual cause. Lancaster had this to say: "Since seeing is only partly a matter of the image on the retina and the sensation it produces, but is in still larger part a matter of the cerebral processes of synthesis, in which memories play a principal role, it follows that by repetition, by practice, by exercises, one builds up a substratum of memories useful for the interpretation of sensations and facilitates the syntheses which are the major part of seeing.
No evidence was found that such techniques could objectively benefit eyesight, though some studies noted changes, both positive and negative, in the visual acuity of nearsighted subjects as measured by a Snellen chart. In some cases noted improvements were maintained at subsequent follow-ups. However, these results were not seen as actual reversals of nearsightedness, and were attributed instead to factors such as "improvements in interpreting blurred images, changes in mood or motivation, creation of an artificial contact lens by tear film changes, or a pinhole effect from miosis of the pupil.
They found that "As yet there is no clear scientific evidence published in the mainstream literature supporting the use of eye exercises" to improve visual acuity, and concluded that "their use therefore remains controversial.
Writer Alan M. MacRobert concluded in a article that the "most telling argument against the Bates system" and other alternative therapies was that they "bore no fruit". In regards to the Bates method, he reasoned that "If palming, shifting, and swinging could really cure poor eyesight, glasses would be as obsolete by now as horse-drawn carriages.
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