My reading vision was clear when I started nursing school at age 35 and blurry by the time I finished three years later.
In 1996, I developed presbyopia (farsightedness) 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, causing eye pain and worsening my headaches. So, I recorded my class lectures, read less and listened to books on tape.
Then in 2004 I discovered the book Relearning To See: Improve Your Eyesight Naturally! by Thomas R. Quackenbush. I began studying the book 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. I was relearning to use my eyes the way I had in the past.
Three weeks later, I had an unexpected eye-opening and mind-expanding experience. While enjoying a early Spring morning walk through the neighborhood, a sense that something quite new and wonderful was happening came over me. I became keenly aware of my surroundings. I felt the warmth of the sun, heard the cheerfulness of the birds and smelled the fragrance of the blossoms. I my sunlight sensitivity was gone. My eyes were completely relaxed.. With incredible vividness I noticed the brightness and colorfulness of Spring. It was as if nature had suddenly appeared for the first time. I was fully experiencing the moment.
I hadn’t realized that up until then, not only had my near vision become blurry, but my vision at a distance had become much less clear as well. But at that moment, all was crystal clear. I was seeing better than I could remember.
The sky was bluer, the grass greener, the flowers brighter and more colorful than I could remember. Surprisingly, everything looked perfectly clear.
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 and the ink jet-black. Around the edges of each letter the paper glowed bright white as if illuminated, making the words appear to float off the page. I could see perfectly fine and enjoyed visual clarity both close-up and at a distance. My eyes were comfortable. My mind was at ease. I was amazed and elated.
I was seeing clearly without having to try, maintaining natural vision habits automatically. My eyelids blinked gently. My eyes moved effortlessly with my head and my attention. I was genuinely interested in and excited about what I was seeing. My face, neck and shoulders were mobile and relaxed. I had no neck pain or headache. My breath was natural and calm.
But eventually doubt crept in. Even though I was seeing clearly, I questioned whether this new and effortless way of using my eyes was normal. I was so use to straining, to squinting to try to see better and to staring. It was a common habit for me to park my eyes, not blink, lock my head and mentally “zone out” with no interest in what I was looking at. Straining felt familiar. But this new way of using my eyes felt strange and only vaguely familiar.
After three days, following a brief episode of being upset about something, my visual clarity unexpectedly faded. Blurriness returned as I fell back into old familiar patterns of eye strain. Regular print was blurry, fine print unreadable. I could not read for more than a few minutes before experiencing the all too familiar eye pain and headache.
I was beginning to appreciate the connection between tension and vision. I had never learned to handle stress well. I reacted to stress emotionally with worry, anxiety and depression, and physically with muscle tension and pain, shallow chest breathing and difficulty sleeping. I realized that learning how to handle stress better would help in improving my eyesight.
According to Dr. Bates, mental and physical tension is reflected in the eyes as blurriness, while mental and physical ease is reflected in the eyes as clarity. I found this to be true.
Although initially disappointed about my step backwards into blurriness, I was excited to know that improving my eyesight naturally was actually possible! I had experienced it! I was empowered to continue studying the Bates Method of Natural Vision Improvement. I was also motivated to learn new ways of handling stress So began my personal journey over many years of learning to relax in order to relearn to see.
During nursing school I had become sedentary and so began stretching and exercising again. I started eating healthier, real, whole and unprocessed food. I quit eating sugar, which helped to balance my emotions, and eliminated gluten, which resolved my chronic joint pain.
I received personal counseling for anxiety and depression. To learn to relax, I listened to relaxation recordings at bed time, practiced progressive relaxation techniques, learned diaphragmatic breathing, autogenic training and the HeartMath breathing technique.
I received massage and bodywork including Thai massage, Reiki, craniosacral therapy, physical therapy and chiropractic. I started practicing yoga and meditation, eventually becoming a yoga teacher. I practiced various mind-body techniques including the Energy Medicine of Donna Eden, Emotional Freedom Technique of Gary Craig and the mind-body connection work of John D. Sarno.
I was introduced to new ways of responding to stress by reading about the power of positive thoughts and attitudes from authors including Norman Vincent Peale, Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer, and about brain neuroplasticity and epigenetics from writers including Norman Doidge, Bruce Lipton and Joe Dispenza.
My vision gradually improved, up close and at a distance. I am now able to read easily and indefinitely, without eye discomfort or headaches. Regular print is clear and fine print readable in good light. Sunlight no longer bothers my eyes.
In 2015 I took a natural vision workshop with Natural Vision Coach Greg Marsh. This was my first time interacting with others who were also seeking to improve their eyesight naturally. Up until that point everything I had learned was through self-study, from books and online sources. I had never had a personal teacher or coach. I was grateful for my wife’s support and encouragement, but the critical and uninterested reactions I got from family and friends were not helpful. Their disbelief fueled my own doubts. I knew the key was relaxation, but continued to struggle with thinking there was something “to do” rather than something to let go of. I was still “trying too see” rather than allowing seeing to happen.
During Greg’s natural vision workshop I appreciated his supportive attitude and his unhurried and flexible approach. Greg encouraged us to play with natural vision techniques and see how we might incorporate them into our lives rather than do them as exercises. Greg was coaching us as much as teaching. Rather than telling us what to do, he allowed us the time and space to experiment, explore and experience being in our bodies as we tried out natural and relaxing ways of using our eyes. This was new to me. I liked it and decided to become a Natural Vision Coach myself. In 2017. I took Greg’s Natural Vision Coach Training and Certification, with the intention of assisting others on their natural vision improvement journeys.
Thankfully, I do not need to wear glasses. I have been able to improve and maintain my eyesight naturally. I continue to practice the natural vision habits I was born with and was reintroduced to through the Bates Method.
I see clearly in favorable light. Fine print can still be a challenge in dim light. But with a few relaxing breaths, a couple of soft blinks and a gentle letting go of “trying”, the letters clear. I am an avid reader and no longer suffer the eye fatigue, pain and headaches of the past.
How clearly I see fluctuates day to day, even moment to moment, and is greatly improved by my ability to relax in the moment and use my eyes in a natural way.
I am grateful to now have the tools, natural vision habits and relaxation techniques I can call upon to relax my body, mind and eyes and allow for naturally clear and relaxed vision.
– Carl Vigilante