Bates Method

What is it?

The Bates method is a holistic approach to vision which concentrates on the use of the mind rather than the eyes. Surgery and lenses are considered counterproductive as they treat the symptoms rather than the cause of defective vision, which is strain. The principle of re-education is similar to that used in Alexander Technique. There is also an emotional aspect, and practitioners may recommend Bach flower remedies, homoeopathy, or similar ways to address this.

Dr William H. Bates (1860-1931) was an American ophthalmologist who found that the relief of mental strain was fundamental to good use of the eyes. We need to reverse habits of strain (which are mainly unconscious) and take on board a new attitude to the world around us.

A practitioner will assess what you see and how you see it, and then work with you using the basic techniques in ways that are relevant to yourself. As you experience changes, you will be able to incorporate the techniques into your daily life. Usually it will take six to twelve sessions to teach you these, but may take longer in some cases.

The main techniques are:

  • Palming: cupping the hands over closed eyes to shut out any light and induce relaxation. Blinking is also good.
  • Shifting: practising the awareness that any point you look at becomes most distinct when you look at it and less distinct when you look at a different point.
  • Swinging: developing awareness of movement in all areas of the visual field, even when you are the only thing moving.
  • Working with memory and imagination.

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