35 Facts About Bates method


Bates method is an ineffective and potentially dangerous alternative therapy aimed at improving eyesight.

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Eye-care physician William Horatio Bates method held the erroneous belief that the extraocular muscles effected changes in focus and that "mental strain" caused abnormal action of these muscles; hence he believed that relieving such "strain" would cure defective vision.

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In 1891, Bates method published an article in the New York Medical Journal claiming to have successfully reversed seven cases of nearsightedness, or "myopia".

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In 1911, Bates method published an article claiming to have taught myopic schoolchildren how to correctly focus in the distance.

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Bates method recommended that schools post a Snellen chart in each classroom and encourage students to read it daily.

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In 1917, Bates method teamed up with "'physical culture' faddist" Bernarr Macfadden on a "New Course of Eye Training" which was heavily advertised in the Physical Culture magazine.

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Bates method' name was later dropped from the advertising, but Macfadden continued to market this correspondence course, which was renamed "Strengthening the Eyes".

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In July 1919, Bates method began publishing Better Eyesight, "A Monthly Magazine Devoted to the Prevention and Cure of Imperfect Sight Without Glasses".

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In 1920, Bates method self-published a book, The Cure of Imperfect Sight by Treatment Without Glasses .

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Bates method rejected this explanation, and in his 1920 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.

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Bates method adhered to a different explanation of accommodation that had already been generally disregarded by the medical community of his time.

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Bates method' model had the muscles surrounding the eyeball controlling its focus.

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Bates method believed that these conditions are caused by tension of the muscles surrounding the eyeball, which he believed prevents the eyeball from sufficiently changing shape when gaze is shifted nearer or farther.

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Bates method 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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Bates method linked disturbances in the circulation of blood, which he said is "very largely influenced by thought", not only to refractive errors, but to double vision, crossed-eye, lazy eye, and to more serious eye conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma.

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Bates method felt that corrective lenses, which he characterized as "eye crutches", are an impediment to curing poor vision.

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Bates method thus recommended that glasses be discarded by anyone applying his method.

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Bates method suggested closing the eyes for minutes at a time to help bring about relaxation.

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Bates method asserted that the relaxation could be deepened in most cases by "palming", or covering the closed eyes with the palms of the hands, without putting pressure on the eyeballs.

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Bates method placed importance on mental images, as he felt relaxation was the key to clarity of imagination as well as of actual sight.

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Bates method claimed that one's poise could be gauged by the visual memory of black; that the darker it appeared in the mind, and the smaller the area of black that could be imagined, the more relaxed one was at the moment.

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Bates method recommended that patients think of the top letter from an eye chart and then visualize progressively smaller black letters, and eventually a period or comma.

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Bates method cautioned against "concentrating" on such images, as he regarded an attempt to "think of one thing only" as a strain.

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Bates method thought that the manner of eye movement affected the sight.

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Bates method suggested "shifting", or moving the eyes back and forth to get an illusion of objects "swinging" in the opposite direction.

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Bates method believed that the smaller the area over which the "swing" was experienced, the greater was the benefit to sight.

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Bates method combined this with visualization, advocating that patients close their eyes and imagine movement of objects.

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Posthumous publications of Bates method' book omitted mention of the supposed benefits from direct sunlight shining on open eyes.

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In 1932, Gayelord Hauser published a book endorsing the Bates method but adding new exercises and recommendations for his own dietary products.

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Bates method's became his pupil, and eventually taught his method at her School of Eye Education in Los Angeles.

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Bates method 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.

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In 1939, at the age of 45 and with eyesight that continued to deteriorate, he happened to hear of the Bates method and sought the help of Margaret Corbett, who gave him regular lessons.

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Frequent criticism of the Bates method is that it has remained relatively obscure, which is seen as proof that it is not truly effective.

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Philosopher Frank J Leavitt has argued that the method Bates described would be difficult to test scientifically due to his emphasis on relaxation and visualization.

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Discarding one's corrective lenses, as Bates recommended, or wearing lenses weaker than one's prescribed correction, as some Bates method advocates suggest, poses a potential safety hazard in certain situations, especially when one is operating a motor vehicle.

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