For millions of people
all over the world, prescribed eyeglasses are crucial visual aids when
performing daily activities at home, school, and in the workforce. In order to
see correctly, we wear glasses and/or contacts, yet a company has convinced
hundreds to take a leap of faith in the opposite direction. Bates Method
International, a business that has created a movement towards improved eye
health, is allegedly run by the successors of Dr. William Bates, an
ophthalmologist and an extremely intelligent man that practiced medicine in
unconventional manners during his life in the 1800s (Introduction – The Bates Method of Vision Education,
2017).
Now people following his footsteps are teaching others various steps as to
improve their eyesight in more “natural” ways.

            The techniques provided by the company are meant for the
individual’s “re-learning” of seeing properly, with a plethora of strange
instructions (Techniques-Basic Principles, 2017). One technique
listed on the official website is palming, or the cupping of ones hands over
the eyes in order to emit light from entering, to focus on current emotions
he/she may be feeling, and to pay attention to their surroundings; it is
recommended to partake in this for up to 20 times a day! (Techniques: Palming, 2017). A big problem with
the introduction of this is the omission of any scientific data to prove the
effectiveness of palming. One can easily point to the Bates Method as
pseudoscientific after seeing Bates’ quotes as the only “reliable” anecdotal
evidence, who’s work still remains scientifically controversial. In addition,
the recommendation of completing palming up to 20 times a day lacks any proof
of whether it has genuinely worked or if it benefited someone’s eyesight.
Another technique recommended by Bates’ successors is the swinging of one’s
body with a very sharp focus on its movement and the movement of surroundings (Techniques: The Swings – Introduction, 2017). Although it might
seem promising, the website only offers a very superficial overview of the
various swinging options and speaks about it with very flowery vocabulary. It
is said that this technique causes a “healthier and more immediate connection”
between the brain and eyes, yet avoids explaining the process as to how this
happens (Techniques: The Swings – Introduction, 2017). The importance of
the brain when perceiving moving items is also discussed using formal terms,
but there is no relevance to most of the words written and the company
continues to spew their ideas without any scientific proof backing them up. One
medicinal article published explains the “eye exercises” that Bates Method
International continues to babble about, which do seem slightly beneficial for
stress release or just focus of attention (Rawstron JA, 2005). Many studies have attempted to prove
the legitimacy of the claims made by this business, but there is “no clear
scientific evidence” to prove how effective these techniques could be when
trying to improve eyesight.

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            Anyone trying to improve eyesight by participating in
these exercises may be putting themselves in danger! Avoiding eyeglasses
continually and possibly every day may very easily worsen someone’s eyesight
and put everybody in that individual’s proximity in danger. Not being able to
perceive one’s surroundings correctly can lead to fatal accidents and mishaps,
especially when driving a motor vehicle. False hope can lead participants to
refuse professional help for serious eye disorders, which may lead to very
grave conditions. A more plausible treatment option for those whose vision is
lacking is playing video games. As silly as it may sound, Daphne Maurer, a
developmental psychologist completed research on those who have what she calls
“visual deficits” (Dreifus, 2012). 
She tested seven individuals whose eyesight was stable for a long period
of time, and decided to expose them to video games in hopes of their visual
acuity levels increasing; she concluded that these participants had “rewiring”
of their brains by “allowing new connections” to be created as their
psychological and physiological body are both responding to signals in video
games (Dreifus, 2012). 

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