Shift, imagine, blink

Based on my self-observed vision habits and on concepts I gleaned from reading the Better Eyesight Magazines (BEM), I have decided that the main habits I need to focus on are shifting, imagining, and blinking.  Along with these, something that is just as important, is the need to wear any strength of glasses less.  I have figured out that the reason I don’t go without glasses more often is because my vision is still pretty poor without them.  I believe that my vision is poor without (and even with) glasses because I still have the habit of staring, and Bates clearly identified staring as a type/result of straining in the visual system.

Shifting

Quotes from BEM:

Shift your glance constantly from one point to another, seeing the part regarded best and other parts not so clearly. That is, when you look at a chair, do not try to see the whole object at once; look first at the back of it, seeing that part best and other parts worse. Remember to blink as you quickly shift your glance from the back to the seat and legs, seeing each part best, in turn. This is central-fixation with shifting.

Do not look at anything longer than a fraction of a second without shifting.

Question- Dr. Bates says that in reading fine print one should look between the lines. Is this not contrary to the principles of central fixation? To see the print best, should one not look directly at it?  Answer- One can look between the lines and shift to the black letters with central fixation.

By this is meant, seeing best the point regarded and other points not so clearly. With normal sight, the point regarded shifts constantly. The vision is always imperfect if the letters are not seen, one part best.

Imagining

Your head and eyes are moving all day long. Imagine that stationary objects are moving in the direction opposite to the movement of your head and eyes. When you walk about the room or on the street, notice that the floor or pavement seems to come toward you, while objects on either side appear to move in the direction opposite to the movement of your body.

The white part of all letters is also imagined to be whiter than other parts of the test card, where there are no letters.

Improving the memory and imagination is one of the quickest methods of curing myopia.

Imagine things are moving all the time.  When riding in a railroad train, when one looks out of the car window, telegraph poles and other objects, although they are stationary, appear to be moving. To stop the movement is impossible, and the effort to do so may be very uncomfortable. The greater the effort, the greater the discomfort, and is the cause of heart sickness, headaches and nausea. It can be demonstrated that any movement of the head and eyes produces an apparent movement of stationary objects.

As a general rule when one can imagine these white spaces between the lines are whiter than the rest of the card, halos, the black appears more perfectly black and the letters can be read with normal vision.  Halos are imagined, not seen. Imagination of the illusion of the halos is a quick cure of myopia and astigmatism, as well as other cases of imperfect sight.

Blinking

Blink frequently. Staring is a strain and always lowers the vision.

The importance of practicing certain parts of the routine treatment at all times, such as blinking, central-fixation, shifting and imagining stationary objects to be moving opposite to the movement of his head and eyes, is stressed. The normal eye does these things unconsciously, and the imperfect eye must at first practice them consciously until it becomes an unconscious habit.

All patients with imperfect sight unconsciously stare, and should be reminded by those who are near to them to blink often. To stare is to strain. Strain is the cause of imperfect sight.

Blink. Never stop blinking.

Notice that when things become too blurred that you are staring, that you have forgotten to blink.

Question- When I look at an object and blink, it appears to jump with each blink. Would this be considered the short swing? Answer- Yes. You unconsciously look from one side to the other of the object when blinking.

Blinking is one of the best methods that may be employed to obtain relaxation or rest.

Blinking when done properly is slow, short, and easy.

One may open and close the eyes an innumerable number of times in one second, and do so unconsciously.

Question- Can one blink too quickly and too often? Answer- The normal eye blinks quickly, easily and frequently. Blinking can be done correctly or incorrectly. Some people, when they are told to blink, squeeze their eyes shut, or close them too slowly and then open them spasmodically, which is wrong . When the normal eye blinks, things are seen continuously.

Blinking is fundamental and very important, because one cannot shift frequently or continuously with improvement in the vision, unless the eyes blink often.

Blinking is a rapid method of resting the eyes and can be practiced unconsciously all day long, regardless of what one may be doing.

Shifting, blinking, and imagining stationary objects to be moving, can be practiced at all times and in all places, no matter what you may be doing.

The normal eye blinks more frequently or more continuously under adverse conditions as when the illumination is diminished, the distance is increased or the print read is too pale or otherwise imperfect. The distraction of conversation, noise, reflections of light, objects so arranged as to be difficult to see, all increase the frequency of blinking of the normal eye with normal sight.

I also read this article recently about a study in Japan that seems to indicate that blinking provides temporary rest for the brain’s work.  I think Dr. Bates would fully agree with that idea.

Review: Vision for Life: Ten Steps to Natural Eyesight Improvement

I ordered Meir Schneider’s newest book Vision for Life soon after it came out.  Overall, I really enjoyed the book and have learned much from it.

The general layout of the book is: Meir’s vision improvement story, the ten steps (exercises/habits) for better vision, how to use the computer without straining your eyes, specific programs for various errors of refraction (myopia, hyperopia, etc.), specific programs for pathology conditions (cataracts, glaucoma, etc.), and finally some words on the effect of lenses on people and the society in general.  The book also includes a few different eye charts folded in a pocket at the back of the book.  This is a clear and logical layout for the book that I think was well planned out.

I have myopia (nearsightedness) and feel that the book gave clear steps for me to take to improve my vision and lead me to a point where I don’t need corrective lenses anymore.  I enjoyed reading the beginning part of the book about Meir’s story as it shows how the Bates method can improve even difficult vision cases if the person is diligent and understands the method correctly.  Next, Schneider states his seven principles of healthy vision; these are habits or characteristics that someone with clear vision will do naturally/unconsciously.  Then, the ten steps are listed and described in detail; these are the exercises/practices that Schneider recommends to improve one’s vision and attain the seven principles of healthy vision.  They are mainly based on Bates’ methods of vision improvement, but Schneider includes some other vision and bodywork exercises that he has learned through experience and research.

For myopia, the program consisted of night walking, shifting, palming, peripheral exercises, and eye chart work.  I think this is a good plan that focuses on the problems many with myopia have- mainly staring, only using the central vision (which is reinforced by the uniform clarity corrective lenses show), and not looking for details especially in the distance.  I know that I definitely have the tendency to do these things.  Meir gives specific times for these exercises and how to adjust the time for shifting as you improve.  I feel that this plan is realistic and doable by anyone who will make the time for it each day.  It would take about one hour total to complete the myopia exercises, but it is split up so you can complete each exercise as you have time throughout the day.

I think this is a great plan that will continue to improve my vision, but I haven’t been making time for it lately.  Some final random comments I have on the book:  There are several pictures throughout the book where Meir is showing some tool or exercise and has a ridiculously large smile.  At first, I thought “that’s weird” whenever I saw these pictures, but after time I realize that the pictures are just reflections of Meir’s bright and optimistic personality :mrgreen: .  I like that Meir includes tools and exercises even if they don’t help him personally; one example is pinhole glasses which don’t work for him but do for others.  I was REALLY excited when I noticed the eye charts in the back of the book.  I know I can just find and print Snellen charts off the internet, but it just felt like an unexpected gift when I saw the charts.  Additionally, the letters are printed in a very high quality black ink that I’ve never seen from my printer at home.  I enjoy how this book was written from Schneider’s experience with vision improvement and the teaching at his School for Self-Healing.  I feel he is a trustworthy source of information on how to improve errors of refraction.  Finally, I like the fact that another good vision improvement book has been written that is largely based on Bates’ findings and methods.  The last major vision improvement book I am aware of coming out was David De Angelis’ The Secret of Perfect Vision;  this came out back in 2008 and was definitely not aligned with the Bates method.

In summary, this is an excellent modern vision improvement book that I would recommend to anyone who wants to improve or maintain their vision. :)

Current vision beliefs and plans

When I think about my vision improvement journey and the speed with which my eyes have improved, I feel that my continued use of glasses is why I don’t see clearly now.  Bates made it very clear in his writings that one of the main components of his treatments was the discontinued use of glasses.  He stated that wearing glasses even for a short amount of time will likely reverse the improvements one has made through relaxation exercises.  While Emily wrote about a few people who improved their vision while still wearing glasses some of the time, she always stated it as if she were surprised it happened.  Anyway, I just felt like writing this part because I think it’s the reason I’m not glasses-free after this amount of time of trying to improve my vision.

On a more positive note, I am now using my previous “close distance” glasses as distance glasses and an even weaker pair for close distance activities.  I think the new distance glasses are -3.75D and the close distance glasses are -2.50D.  So, while I can’t drive or do detailed work without glasses yet, my vision has definitely continued to improve :) .  As a reference, my strongest prescription ever was OD -5.75D, OS -5.50D.

For future plans, I still want to do more activities without wearing glasses.  I have clear flashes pretty frequently when I’m not wearing glasses, but I wear glasses most of the time so my eyes don’t have the opportunity to have these flashes.  Furthermore, I’ve been wanting to read something by Meir Schneider for a while as his story of being born practically blind to being able to drive without a vision restriction is amazing.  So, I’ve ordered his newest book, Vision for Life, and should receive it sometime next week.  I glanced at the table of contents on Amazon and it looks very interesting with a general layout of: his story, the basic Bates principles, and recommendations for specific vision conditions.  I think that reading this book will help re-motivate me to prioritize my vision improvement practices.  The four people who read my blog can look forward to a new book review post in a few weeks. :mrgreen:

Changing my way of seeing

In regard to vision improvement, I’ve mainly been using long swings for relaxation and just trying to use my eyes correctly.  I also bought the 14 E-book set from Clark Night which includes Bates’ book, Perfect Eyesight, and all of his Better Eyesight magazine issues.  These, along with all the other included books, are great materials to have for reference and reading.  Thanks Clark :) .

Anyway, I’ve been reading alot of the articles, blog posts, and forum posts on David’s website iBlindness lately.  I really like how he tries to simplify the components of the Bates method into the most applicable way.  From what I’ve read on iBlindness, and from my own thoughts on Bates’ methods, there are basically two components of seeing clearly.  First, is relaxing your mind and occular muscles.  Second, is using your eyes correctly; this is how someone with 20/20+ vision uses their eyes.

For the first part concerning relaxation, Bates utilized many exercises such as palming, swinging and sunning.  These exercises usually don’t improve one’s vision permanently, but they relax your mind and put you in a good state for the second part.  While Bates shared some stories of people who were cured quickly using these relaxation methods, for most of his patients they just started off their visits or home practices with these exercises.  After they were relaxed mentally, Bates would try to teach them how to correctly use their eyes.  My thoughts on the people who were cured solely with these exercises is that those people had personality traits that made it difficult for them to effectively cope with life stressors (the poor coping ability leading to their poor visual acuity).

Concerning the second part, Bates taught the patients about correct eye usuage using such concepts as shifting, central fixation, and the universal swing.  It seems that most people with imperfect sight, whether they are generally relaxed, are not using their eyes correctly unconsciously.  Relearning to use one’s eyes as one did when his/her vision was good is difficult as one has the opportunity to use their eyes well/poorly every second they are awake.

I believe that I should focus on the second part.  While my job is often stressful, I don’t always sleep well, and I sometimes have a low level of anxiety about uncertain things, I am generally a laid-back person.  While palming and swinging might feel good as I use them, they never really improve my vision.  What I do notice when I wear glasses or see without them, is that I’m prone to staring.  I know that it isn’t my natural inclination to shift, be aware of central fixation and look for details.

Anyway, this post is mainly just a way to organize my thoughts and focus my future vision improvement practices.  I think if I really focused on one thing, it would be looking for details.  This practice alone utilizes shifting and central fixation and can lead to the appearance of the universal swing if done unconsciously.  David also seems to have come to this realization and has written multiple blog posts on ways to look for details as someone with good vision would do.  I believe all my future vision work needs to be focused on always looking for the smallest details in the things I see.

Reading below the words

This is just a quick post to point out how Bates habits for seeing clearly will usually work even when they don’t make sense.  The vision habit I want to talk about today is how he said to read.  Bates said you will not strain when reading if you focus your vision on the imagined white line under words (for black text on a white background).

This line is not really there, but when you look at text with relaxed vision you see this “illusion” of a bright white line directly below the black ink of the letters; the imagined line is a brighter white than the actual white of the page.  Just as looking at a plain monochromatic surface creates no visual strain, looking at this pure white line rather than the detailed words is supposed to let you read without strain.  Anyway, I experienced this while studying with my Bible this morning.

Without my glasses, I usually need to bring text about one foot from my face to read it clearly.  This obviously isn’t comfortable, so I tried moving the book further away.  I remembered Bates’ recommendation to look for the white line underneath words in order to read them without strain.  I looked underneath the words (which were blurry) and noticed the space directly below them did seem to be a brighter white than the rest of the page.  I then moved my point of focus down the sentence while doing my best to stay on this thin white line.  Doing this, I was able to clear up the text and read it pretty accurately.  This was at about two feet from my face- twice my normal distance and in range of those who see clearly.

Reading this way felt weird as it makes the most sense to me that I need to look directly at the letters in order to make out their details.  However, reading Bates’ way clears up the words while reading my way keeps them blurry.  So, I will work on making a habit of always reading this way when my glasses are off.

This years vision and health goals

Wow, I didn’t realize it had been so long since my last post. :|  Oh well, I’ll try to post more regularly.  Anyway, I thought I would state my vision-related goals for this year since this is my first post of 2012.

First, the main thing I need to focus on is making a habit of deliberately practicing good vision habits/exercises each day; preferably for about an hour total.  I only wear reduced prescription glasses and go for a few hours each day without glasses, however, this clearly isn’t enough alone to improve my vision to 20/20+.   I need to sit/stand/lie down in front of my Snellen chart and practice various eye exercises to see which ones are relaxing to my visual system that day.  Once the exercises/habits have improved my vision, I need to do my best to remain in that mental/visual state the rest of the day.

Second, I need to spend more total time each day wearing no glasses at all.  For a while, this time mainly happened in the few hours before work (on my workdays) or before brunch (on my days off).  I also take off my glasses for about 20 minutes during my lunch breaks at work.  Nonetheless, those two times combined only make up a small portion of my waking hours.  I need to figure out ways to do common home activities and maybe a few work activities where I can take off my glasses.

Third, I have been actively working on improving my posture for the last few weeks.  I already do abdominal and back exercises regularly, so the problem isn’t that my posture muscles are weak.  I have just been in the habit for several years of sitting and standing with terrible posture.  I would like to work with an Alexander Technique teacher to achieve the best possible posture at all times, but money is tight enough right now that I’m not even considering it.  What I have been doing is reading numerous articles on what good posture looks like, and I’ve been doing my best to have good posture throughout the day.  Sitting and standing with correct/natural posture is becoming easier for me, but it’s still not a habit that I have at all times.

That’s pretty much my main goals.  I know if I improve in just these three areas, my vision will also improve.  I hope that the other vision bloggers and anyone else utilizing the Bates method is seeing success. :)

Patience and small changes

Lately I haven’t been doing as much direct vision improvement work as I would like.  I only wear reduced prescription glasses, and I go without glasses for a few hours each day.  However, I know I could/should do more.  At this point, I wish I had a Bates teacher I could visit, but there aren’t really any in my area.  I know that some teachers do online or email teaching, so I might look more into that when money is more available.

For direct vision work, I have mainly just been relaxing in a chair and looking around in open focus for about 15 minutes at a time.  Sometimes I put up my Snellen chart when doing this, but often I just look around at objects in my room.  For some reason, the most interesting thing to try to see is the reflection of my floor lamp on the blank screen of my TV.  I can usually clear up the image of the lamp to a decent amount, but I haven’t seen it clear yet.

I also have downgraded the glasses I use.  I have about 5 pairs of glasses I’ve ordered from Zenni Optical of varying strengths.  Basically, I use one for far distance seeing/driving and one for close work.  Anyway, I feel comfortable enough now to move down both pairs.  The distance pair is -3.75 D and lets me about 20/40.  The close pair is -3.00 D and lets me see about 20/80.  While I would like to be able to do everything without glasses, I at least like that these glasses are much lower than my last prescription, which was -5.75 OD and -5.50 OS with astigmatism corrections.

Also related to glasses is that I might be getting a conventional eye exam some time soon.  I am in a transition phase right now with my health/vision insurance coverage.  Currently I am included in the plan with my parents as this is the least expensive route.  However, I am done with school, working full time, and wanting to move to my own place in less than a year.  Therefore, I will be switching either to my own health insurance or maybe to none in the next several months. My mother suggested/told me that I should get an eye exam sometime soon while I’m still on their plan; I haven’t gotten a professional eye exam in about 2 years.  Since I haven’t been successful in finding a better job with health insurance yet, there’s a good chance I’ll go get the eye exam within a few weeks.  I’m not really worried about the exam as I think my visual acuity readings should be at least the same and probably lower than last time.  However, I don’t like that a new pair of glasses (likely too strong) will be purchased as a result even though insurance will pay for some/all of it.  Oh well. :|

As for my plans to reach further vision improvements: right now I will just try to wear my glasses less often (wearing the lowest prescription possible when I do)  and practice open focus with the chart most/all days for at least 15 minutes.  I hope all the other vision improvement bloggers have been doing well. :)