THE principles of this new method of treatment, which was discovered by Dr. Bates, are founded upon facts that are plainly in sight, but have heretofore been ignored. It is established that in most of those cases where artificial lenses are being used as a help to seeing, there is no change in the tissue structures of the eye itself. The fault, as diagnosed, is principally an abnormal functioning of the nerve and muscle mechanism. This is a condition quite common in the conduct of other functions of the human body. In every similar condition the expectation of the physician is to correct the fault and develop the normal function.
Nervous indigestion, a condition called nerve tire, the well-known unexplained insomnia, neuralgias for which no cause can be found, various habitual muscular twitchings, are all illustrations of conditions in which the abnormal conduct is owing primarily to some disturbance in the mechanism of the nerve control. Such abnormal functioning can generally be corrected. In many cases the only found cause of the abnormal nerve impulses is an abnormal functioning of the control center in the brain.
Psychologists and psychiatrists have been insisting for years that a large percentage of the above cases should be treated exclusively by mental suggestion. Reports are being made to scientific conventions of cures effected by mental treatment only, after reported failure to cure the given cases by the use of drugs. In what are called spontaneous cures, the patient reports symptoms have ceased, and the patient does not know, and the doctor does not know either, what caused the symptoms or why the disturbances ceased.
A young woman afflicted for years with irregular and distressing twitching of the arms and of the muscles of the face, uncured during some years of medical attention, stopped it all suddenly, and stayed cured. There are many who stutter badly under certain conditions of nerve tension, and do not stutter at all when there is no mental stress. In the offices of nerve specialists are found many varieties of painful or disturbing dysfunction for which no cause can be discovered. It is generally believed by the medical profession that these conditions, classified and treated according to indications, are the results of some abnormal functioning of the centers in the brain which control every part of the mechanism of the human system.
The different kinds of disturbances of vision vary greatly in the degree of trouble that is present at different times. A woman who was deaf for years, and could not secure relief, was shocked mentally by her sensations in a falling airship, and during the emotion her hearing returned. A man who for many years could not manage at all without glasses, broke them while on a trip up in the mountains. He had no others with him, and he got along so well without them that he has never worn them again during the several years that have passed.
Failures in sight, and illusions in sight are so common, that an authority among ophthalmologists coined a phrase "seeing is deceiving." In a large percentage of cases of abnormal vision the principal fault is not a matter of physics or physiology, it is primarily psychology. That fact is really the foundation of the method of treatment originated by Dr. Bates.
A man of twenty years, who always found it impossible to see work or printed matter except at very close range, was permanently cured of the fault in one hour by this method of Dr. Bates. Encouraged by that success, his brother, two years older, presented his right eye, which had been blind from birth. He had consulted only an optometrist, years before, and had been told that the eye was undeveloped. Before treatment was begun I sent him to get the complete information from a medical specialist in the clinic of a large hospital. He was told there that his only chance was to cover the good eye whenever he could, and thus encourage the undeveloped eye to develop. He was told also that it would be two or three years before he might expect any improvement. Under treatment by the Bates method, however, in a few days he could read the upper lines on the Snellen Chart three feet away, and he continued to improve rapidly.
A young woman of twenty-two years reported that her brothers right eye had been crossed from earliest years; but that it was her left eye which had been crossed from her earliest recollection. About ten years before her visit to my office the strabismus (crossing of the eye) shifted, and the right eye turned outward while the left eye became straight. She had worn glasses for several years, and could not see her work in a large office without them. In two hours her right eye was perfectly straight, and has remained so for three years now; and she has never worn her glasses since. This was not a miracle. In the standard textbooks it is explained that crossed eyes may change spontaneously from one oblique direction to any different oblique position, or the strabismus may transfer itself spontaneously from one eye to the other, just as had happened to this patient while under my treatment for two hours.
A child of eight, thrown down by what is called a police dog, received as the immediate result of the mental shock a pair of crossed eyes. Most histories of crossed eyes originate as a consequence of an attack of measles or scarlet fever or some other acute or chronic disease. Since such a condition may come in an instant, may change spontaneously, often varies greatly, and in some cases disappears spontaneously, why should it be considered unreasonable to expect that the condition can be cured in the same manner that other conditions of the same nature are being cured?
The cases selected from my records are illuminating examples of the effects which can be secured in the treatment of abnormal conduct of the eye by developing an interested attention to the condition on the part of the mind. For years this has been the method used by medical men in the treatment of similar dysfunctions of other parts of the body. These selected cases of mine, and others just as remarkable, are in evidence today, and the given records are correct.
Eyes which develop noticeable abnormal function misbehave in many different ways. The misconduct of such eyes varies constantly in degree and even in kind. In many cases those eyes cease to act abnormally. Where glasses have been worn, they are discarded, and the conduct of the eyes continues to be quite satisfactory without them. In the majority of eyes an abnormal function continues. The wearing of glasses never corrects the abnormal condition. When eyes recover normal sight, in any case, the change is produced through the internal mechanism controlling the eye. That eyes do recover normal function cannot be questioned. This certainly proves that such a power is inherent in the eye. It remains only to discover bow best to help those eyes which can regain their natural power.
In many cases it is quite practicable to teach a patient who is having trouble with eyesight how to correct the abnormal function and regain good normal vision. There are different techniques, or procedures, in the method originated by Dr. Bates. They are all very simple, and they are varied so that they are adaptable to every kind of condition, and temperament and opportunity. In this book all of these practices will be described so that it will be possible to learn definitely from the text how to carry them out.
These practices sometimes produce most gratifying results in a few minutes. But in other cases, even with the beat of intentions, progress is slow. It is not always possible to discover why a patient cannot secure the same success, even when the difficulty is less in degree. But whenever there is an earnestness of purpose, some proof of dormant power will come in flashes of normal vision. Words or letters will be seen vividly for an instant, and sink back again into the haze, as though a bright light had flashed, and then gone out. I have at times impressed the mind of a patient by bringing back the vividness that came and went, when I threw onto the letters the radiance of a 1 000-watt light, or took the patient to a spot where the strong sun shone directly on the page or the test card.
The game is worth the candle. Those who have worked the hardest are generally the best pleased with their success. The mind that has become adjusted to the impairment of vision that is more or less crippled or dependent, is satisfied, if not content. But those who have said "Now is the winter of our discontent turned into glorious summer," are the ones who have realized the happiness of having won back the pleasure by their own efforts.