Sunday: 10/200 to 10/50 (palming)
Monday 10/200 to 10/40 (palming)
Tuesday: 10/200 to 10/62 – was very clear (flashing while using imagination)
Over the past few days, I’ve read all but two chapters of Use Your Own Eyes by William MacCracken, which is found for free on the Central-Fixation website. I will list the main ideas and thoughts I had on the book:
- MacCracken’s main focus in the book is that vision problems are caused by mental strain. He is a doctor so he views/describes this in an anatomical and psychological viewpoint. He says that the reason the extraocular eye muscles squeeze the eyeballs out of shape (as in someone with myopia) is because the brain is sending the wrong nerve signals to those muscles. The reason the nerve signals are not correct is because the mind is straining.
- The way to get rid of the eyestrain causing vision problems is to relax one’s mind. Also, physical relaxation (of one’s muscles) can only take place after mental relaxation has taken place.
- The way to relax one’s mind when using techniques like Bates suggested is to completely forget the eyes and only think objectively about the task one is doing. For example, if one was flashing the letters on the Snellen chart, he would not think about if the letter is clear or how his eyes feel; he would only think about relaxing while the eyes are closed and opening them temporarily at intervals.
- He recommends using afterimages as a way to practice with one’s memory. One could look at a letter on the chart, while blinking, for about 30 seconds and then close his eyes for a minute and look at the afterimage (a white letter on a black paper). How detailed and clear the afterimage is is indicative of how relaxed one’s eyes were/are.
- For the long swing, he differentiates between doing the exercise for relaxation (eyes closed and muscles relaxed) and for shifting practice (eyes open and noticing oppositional movement).
Overall, I really liked the book and would recommend that others who want to improve their vision read at least a few chapters. If one likes using a certain Bates technique, I would suggest reading the specific chapter for that technique (the sun, palming, central fixation, shifting, swinging, memory, imagination). MacCracken doesn’t just describe the techniques, he also mentions several activities to do while using them; this would be helpful if one needs more ideas and variety. Also, I would recommend that everyone read the Snellen Test Card chapter as it likewise describes several useful activities one can do while practicing with the chart. Besides these recommended chapters, I don’t think one would really need to read the others if they are familiar with Bates principles. The other chapters basically explain why Bates’ ideas were correct and why people who disagree are wrong. 😕
I think the most important thing I got out of the book was the third bullet I listed above. I used that knowledge (and a suggested Snellen chart technique) for the Tuesday reading. While the last number may not be as low as the last numbers for Sunday and Monday, the letters I did see on the 62 line were very clear. I had used the flashing technique for one letter at a time: keeping my eyes closed for most of the time and opening them for a split second at intervals. While my eyes were closed, I would imagine drawing the letter as black and clear as possible about seven times total before opening my eyes again. The reason that reading was not as low was mostly because of time constraints. The Snellen practice session on Tuesday took about 20 minutes total, but I was very confident when I read the letters.
Another technique I find helpful is imagining a fly crawling on a plane of glass as I’m palming; MacCracken suggested this activity in his book. However, I’ve sort of made this into a video game by imagining that the fly must crawl to a specific, flashing green spot located on one of the corners of the glass. The fly, however, walks all over the place (instead of in a straight line) before it finally reaches the spot; the fly also leaves a dashed line behind it as it walks like in the Family Circus cartoons. Once it reaches the goal, a shockwave expands then contracts from the green spot and erases the walking lines. Then the spot moves and the game starts over again. This may seem complex (and nerdy 😦 ), but I find it more fun to do than just looking at blackness. Furthermore, it keeps my mind on the objective task of beating the game; I completely forget about my eyes during the activity. 🙂 Also, I’m sure this is good practice for my imagination. I plan on doing this activity again sometime soon for a long period of time to see the postive effects on my visual acuity.