Correct your vision by connecting to your body’s natural ability to heal
So many people need glasses to see well that it is considered normal that eyesight fails at some point in our lives. I was 17 when I first noticed my distance vision becoming blurry. I could squint my eyes to see better, so, as far as I was concerned, I didn’t have a problem. Yet my parents thought it best to get my eyes checked; it was no surprise when the eye doctor said I needed a pair of glasses for mild myopia. I did not really mind this diagnosis. I expected that glasses would make me look more intelligent, so I carefully picked a frame that would fit my new image. Quite happy with my choice, I proudly wore my new asset to school. Instead of getting comments on how smart I now looked, I received a barrage of questions about how bad my eyesight was. I smiled and tried to look smart, but as I did not actually know the answer to those questions, I felt that my plan had backfired.
My glasses felt like a barrier between the world and me, creating a sense of separation with everyone else.
It seemed I was suddenly an onlooker and no longer a participant, so I decided to ‘”lose” the glasses and told my parents I was seeing better now and no longer needed them anyway.
For the next 16 years I lived in a slightly blurry world. By squinting through my driver’s test, I even managed to get my license with a little visual cheating. During this time, I read a newspaper article that claimed eye exercises would help me regain clear vision. I immediately bought the book advertised and tried the exercises. I soon became bored with that routine and saw no results, so I gave up and accepted the fact that my blurry world would remain the same.
I was in my early 30s when I noticed it was getting harder to read freeway signs in time to find the exit I needed. Just when I thought I might have to give in and get glasses again, fate stepped in with a different plan. I was helping a friend sell books at a health expo in San Francisco when I met Tom Quackenbush. He was promoting his brand new book, Relearning to See. The title reminded me of my failed eye-exercise experience, so I skeptically asked Tom, “Does this really work??” He did not roll his eyes at me, but just replied that if I bought the book or took his class I would find out. I was too skeptical to commit to a class, yet when Tom mentioned it was not based on eye exercises, I was hopeful enough to go ahead and buy the book.
What this book taught me was that my blurry vision was mainly due to some bad vision habits, and that it was possible to replace those bad habits with better habits. This made sense so I began to apply Tom’s advice. For example, I replaced my staring into space habit with a blinking habit. To my great surprise, after only two weeks of replacing eyestrain with visual relaxation, my vision acuity became 20/20, or 100 percent. I was amazed. Of course, I was delighted with this increase in clarity, yet I also felt some anger: Why had nobody told me about these simple truths 16 years ago?
I wondered if it was a fluke; would this clarity actually last? I asked my boyfriend if he would take off his glasses for one week and try this method. Given his -4 myopia, he was very hesitant, but agreed to give it a try. I hid his glasses so he wouldn’t cheat and hung up an eye chart. I measured 20 feet, told him to stand there, and asked him what he could see. He squinted and squirmed and then asked, “Did you hang something on the wall?” I was stunned; I had no idea how bad his vision was. We decided not to care about the chart, to just go through the book and use its advice and see what would happen after one week.
After that week, he did not ask me to give back his glasses and I did not tell him where they were. We continued with the relaxation practices and his vision began to improve. After one month, I decided it was time for him to check that eye chart again. Same wall, same distance. This time he easily read the top three lines, and could even distinguish a few letters on the fourth line. His acuity was approaching 20/50, which is only one line away from passing the driver’s test without glasses! Amazed and delighted, I wrote a thank-you email to Tom. The very next day Tom phoned to invite me to his teacher-training class that summer. And so began my entry into the amazing world of teaching natural eyesight improvement.
In the 15-plus years since my initial training, I have continued to study how the eyes work and what interferes with good vision.
I have learned how simple it can be to let go of eyestrain and return to natural ways of using the eyes so they work better.
Spurred on by my sharp and inquisitive colleague Robert Lichtman, I have compared the original writings of the pioneer in eyesight improvement, Dr. William H. Bates, a New York-based ophthalmologist, with the things Robert and I learned in our teacher training. What we found led us to slowly let go of some ineffective techniques and replace them with the original methods used by Dr. Bates. My teaching continued to evolve as I worked with an optometrist for more than a year, followed an ophthalmologist around for two weeks, and attended a variety of vision conferences in the United States and Europe. If it had to do with eyesight, I was ready to explore it.
Eyesight is a topic that continues to inspire me. Teaching others to see better has given me a worthwhile purpose in life. I am self-employed, I do what I love, and I get to have the pleasure of helping people avoid dependence on cumbersome glasses. Not only are glasses discarded, so are years of neck tension, headaches, and dry eyes. Color vision and depth perception tend to improve as well.
Often my students report feeling happier and have increased self-confidence along with improved eyesight. These are blessings and happy side effects of learning how to use your eyes the way nature intended.
I have published a few books about the traditional Bates Method and I am working on my main book, Optimal Eyesight. I also teach group classes on the basics of the Bates Method, and give lectures and workshops at holistic vision conferences. Still, nothing beats private sessions with individuals, such as the 10-year-old girl who learned to straighten a strabismic eye within one hour of teaching her how to relax her eye muscles. Hearing from her mother a year later that the girl’s doctor said she no longer requires corrective eye surgery is a gift that brightens my life beyond measure.
My goal is to open the hearts, minds, and eyes of everyone to the natural methods of vision improvement. My message is that we no longer need to think of glasses or contact lenses as our first option, and we no longer need to consider laser surgery as a smart way to overcome blurry vision. There is a much better way — an effective natural way without negative side effects. It deserves to be given a chance; it deserves to be our first choice.
Learn more at VisionsOfJoy.org