Bates Method

The Bates method is an alternative therapy aimed at improving eyesight. Eye-care physician William Horatio Bates (1860–1931) attributed nearly all sight problems to habitual strain of the eyes, and felt that glasses were harmful and never necessary. Bates self-published a book as well as a magazine (and earlier collaborated with Bernarr MacFadden on a correspondence course) detailing his approach to helping people relax such strain, and thus, he claimed, improve their sight. His techniques centered around visualization and movement. He placed particular emphasis on imagining black letters and marks, and the movement of such. He also felt that exposing the eyes to sunlight would help alleviate eyestrain.

Although many of Bates' patients and followers of his methods have reported of successful results, (most famously from author Aldous Huxley), his methods have garnered much opposition from mainstream optometry. Bates was disbarred from the American Optometric Association because his techniques had not been shown objectively to improve eyesight. Despite this, some behavioral optometrists and visual therapists continue to employ methods developed by Bates.

Bates' main physiological proposition – that the eyeball changes shape to maintain focus – has consistently been contradicted by observation. In 1952, optometry professor Elwin Marg wrote of Bates, “Most of his claims and almost all of his theories have been considered false by practically all visual scientists.” Marg concluded that the Bates method owed its popularity largely to "flashes of clear vision" experienced by many who followed it. Such occurrences have since been determined to most likely be a contact lens-like effect of moisture on the eye.

Both critics and proponents of the Bates method caution against overexposing the eyes to sunlight, driving without the legally required correction, or completely neglecting conventional eye care.

Read more about Bates Method:  Treatments, Results and Criticism, After Bates, Claimed Success, General Research

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