CARL’S STORY

My reading vision was clear when I started school at age 35 and blurry by the time I finished two years later.

 

In 1996, presbyopia (or so-called age-related farsightedness) came on near the end of nursing school, a stressful time in my life. The printed word became blurry.  Reading was a strain, inducing eye fatigue, discomfort and headaches. Attempts at wearing reading glasses did not help. They were uncomfortable, inducing eye pain and worsening my headaches. So, I read less, recorded my class lectures and listened to books on tape.

Then in 2004 I discovered the natural vision improvement book Relearning To See: Improve Your Eyesight Naturally!  by Thomas R. Quackenbush.  I first opened the pages while on vacation and was introduced to the Bates Method of Natural Vision Improvement and to the principles and habits of natural vision that ophthalmologist William H. Bates, MD discovered. What I learned and practiced during that vacation felt new, yet vaguely familiar, as if I had experienced it in a dream long ago. Although I didn’t fully realize it at the time, I wasn’t really learning anything new. Rather than learning to see, just like the title of the book said, I was actually re-learning to see.

Three weeks later, I had an unexpected eye-opening and mind-opening experience. While enjoying a Spring morning walk through the neighborhood, I became keenly aware of my surroundings. A sense of experiencing something new came over me. I felt the warmth of the sun, heard the cheerfulness of the bird’s songs and smelled the fragrance of the tree blossoms. And I noticed, as if for the first time, the incredible vividness of the light and colors of Spring. It was as if nature had suddenly appeared.

The sky was bluer, the grass greener, the flowers brighter and more colorful. And surprisingly, everything looked perfectly clear!

 

I hadn’t realized until that moment that not only had my near vision become blurry, but my vision at every distance had become blurry as well. All was crystal clear! I was seeing better than I could remember! And I was more relaxed and happy than I had been in a long time!

When I returned from my walk, I immediately opened Relearning To See to page 371 and easily read three paragraphs of 1.5 point type entitled “The Menace of Large Print”. The micro-print was clear and sharp, the ink jet-black, the paper around each letter glowed white as if illuminated, making the letters seem to jump out from the page. It took no effort. My eyes were comfortable. My mind was at ease. And I could see perfectly! I enjoyed visual clarity, reading effortlessly and seeing the world as if for the first time! I was amazed and at first elated!

But after three days doubt crept in. I questioned whether this new way of using my eyes was “normal”. I was not use to it. I was use to straining to read, squinting to see each word. And I had grown accustomed to, even comforted by, my habit of staring. I would often park my eyes, not blink, not move and not pay attention to what my eyes were looking at. I spent many hours gazing into the distance with no real interest in what I was seeing, mentally “zoning out”.

And even though discomfort and blurriness accompanied my acquired habits of squinting, straining and staring, this way of using my eyes felt normal. This new way of using my eyes that allowed me to see clearly, as marvelous as it was, felt strange.

After a few days, blurriness returned. Visual clarity faded following an episode of me getting upset about something. I don’t remember what, but do remember being angry about things not going my way. I fell back into my old familiar patterns of strain. Although initially disappointed, I was also excited to know that improving eyesight naturally was actually possible! I had experienced it! And I was determined to experience it again!

Since then, I have been taking personal responsibility for how clearly I see. Gradually, I improved my eyesight and continue to maintain it using the Bates Method, incorporating natural vision principles and habits into my daily life. I do not depend on glasses, am an avid reader and no longer suffer the chronic eye fatigue, pain and headaches of the past.

According to Dr. Bates, mental and physical tension is reflected in the eyes as blurriness, while mental and physical ease is reflected as clarity. I have found this to be true. Along with the Bates Method, I practice yoga, meditation, various relaxation and mindfulness techniques and receive regular massage and bodywork.

I have learned that how clearly I see fluctuates day to day, moment to moment, and is greatly improved by my ability to relax. As I let go of trying to see and  just allow it to happen, I see more clearly.