View Full Version : Glasses and Subrace

Thursday, August 14th, 2003, 04:42 AM
I think it would be interesting to have a study done pertaining to glasses. Such as:

Doliocephalic: wears glasses/ doesn't wear glasses
Meso: same ?
Brachy: same?

Wearing glasses is a crutch that is going to affect our evolution.

Friday, August 15th, 2003, 01:19 AM
I think it would be interesting to have a study done pertaining to glasses. Such as:

Doliocephalic: wears glasses/ doesn't wear glasses
Meso: same ?
Brachy: same?

Wearing glasses is a crutch that is going to affect our evolution.
Interesting topic.

The evolution of the brain could have supported a tendency to short-sightedness. (Sub-)Racial miscegenation probably contributes to optical maladjustments, too.

Short-sightedness seems to be disproportionally overrepresented amongst intelligent people. This probably has to do with their increased tendency to read, write and sit in front of computer screens, too.

Friday, August 15th, 2003, 01:49 AM
Wearing glasses is a crutch that is going to affect our evolution.

That's ridiculous.

Friday, August 15th, 2003, 03:44 AM
That's ridiculous.

It isn't at all. It will affect the evolution of the eye. I'm sure we have weaker eyes than Neanderthal or other early hominid. Their survival would have depended on it to protect them from predators. If they were near-sighted they would never of been able to see a predator approaching until it was too late.

Be curious to know how many people needed glasses just 100 years ago and how many need them now.

Friday, August 15th, 2003, 03:54 AM
Better vision without Glasses by Klassen:

We all want good eyesight— eyes that see clearly, that are bright and denote vitality. We do not want to suffer from eyestrain, nor do we enjoy wearing unattractive and bothersome glasses. Oculists and optometrists have been unable to give us healthy eyes. In spite of the increasing numbers of eye doctors who have entered public service in recent years our eyesight is becoming worse and worse. But this condition is not without solution. Thanks to the work of Dr. William H. Bates, of the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, as well as other broadminded doctors and scientists, we now have a system of eye care which is marvelously effective, one which is able to give you excellent eyesight without the use of glasses.

Hygienists were the first to grasp the importance of the discoveries of Dr. Bates. They quickly employed the techniques he recommended, and with good results. Patient after patient has discarded his glasses after using the Bates system of the eye training for a few weeks to a few months. But the oculist and optometrist, those who should be most interested have shown practically no interest in Dr. Bates’ discoveries. They continue recommending and fitting eyeglasses to their patients in spite of the overwhelming evidence that these are unnecessary if the more natural hygienic measures are employed.


Now let us consider the eyes from the standpoint of the newer knowledge of hygiene and the latest discoveries of Dr. Bates. First the matter of nutrition and its relation to eyesight will take our attention. Prior to World War I it was not known that food had any important effect upon the eyes. But when the armies who invaded Belgium took most of the dairy stock, and fresh fruits and vegetables became very scarce many of the Belgians developed hemeralopia, better known as night blindness. Many things were tried to overcome this ailment, but all to no avail. Then came the summer and a new supply of fruits and vegetables, together with more dairy products, and the night blindness soon disappeared. At first this was quite a mystery but now it can easily be explained. The fruits, vegetables and dairy products are good sources of vitamin A. In recent years it has been shown repeatedly in experimental tests that night blindness frequently occurs when vitamin A is lacking in the diet. Of course this vitamin is no cure-all for every eye disease and its lack is not the cause of all eye troubles. Nevertheless, it is of greater importance than any other single element in determining eye health. If you want good eyesight you should refrain from eating those foods which have lost their vitamin A through modern methods of food preparation. Use plenty of green and yellow vegetables, which are among the finest sources of Vitamin A.

The importance of vitamin A has frequently caused nutritionists to overlook the effect of other elements upon the eyes. In reality, the eyes are helped by an abundant supply of all the vitamins and minerals. Deficiencies of calcium, potassium and sodium, in addition to vitamin A, have often produced blindness in animals. Then these elements are added to the diet, and the animals regain their vision. Nursing calves become blind if their mother's diet lacks certain essential vitamins and minerals. In nutritional deficiency diseases such as pellagra we also find that the retina of the eye is inflamed. Dr. Sydenstricker, of the University of Mississippi Medical School, has shown a deficiency of riboflavin in the diet frequently causes dim vision and bloodshot eyes. In addition, it is reported that a lack of riboflavin frequently causes cataract in animals, and it may do the same in man. The eyes of experimental animals also become diseased when vitamin C, vitamin D, paraminobenizoic acid, inosital and certain amino acids are lacking in the diet. These facts should speak for themselves and show you the importance of using foods which have not lost most of their vital elements. You should use only raw foods in your diet, foods which still have the elements the eyes need. Remember that vitamin A is easily lost in the cooking process, that much vitamin C is lost when milk is pasteurized, and that refined grains have lost most or all of their original content of riboflavin. Use natural plant foods if you want good eyesight.


The second great need of the eyes is plenty of sunshine. Fish which live in dark caves, into which no sunlight enters are blind. Their eyes atrophy and in many cases disappear. Light, especially sunlight, will strengthen the eyes. If you have dark sunglasses, discard them, for they do you more harm than good. Then go outside and let the sun shine on your closed eyelids. Start doing this very gradually; a few minutes or less the first day is enough. Eventually you will be able to let the sun shine on your lids over longer periods of time. Blinking into the sun is also good for the eyes but it should not be overdone. In the beginning stages this blinking should be done in the late afternoon or early morning when the sun's rays are not so strong. If you follow these instructions and give your eyes sunbaths you will soon note that your eyesight is improving and that your eyes are less sensitive to strong lights.


The finest known method of relaxing tired, strained eyes is to palm them. Place the cups of your hands over both eyes so as to exclude all light. Then completely relax and try to see nothing except black. At first you may see gray or flashes of other colors. But just keep trying until you see black, black and only black. Try to imagine a black box or some other black object if that will help when they are tired. When cataracts exist palming is especially valuable.

Another method of relaxing tired, strained eyes is to blink often. Whenever you notice the slightest eyestrain blink your eyes about 20 times. Children blink more often than adults do, and this is one factor which accounts for their better eyesight. If you have a serious eye defect you should blink much more often than otherwise. It is especially important to blink frequently while reading. Don't blink so often that it interferes with your reading but simply stop occasionally and blink gently a dozen times or more.


The use of eye exercises forms the basis of all modern hygienic systems of the eye training. The eyes need exercise just as do the other parts of the body. When this is lacking the muscles and tissues attached .to the eyeball become strained and rigid. They are no longer capable of giving efficient service. Then, when a program of eye exercises is employed, the muscles regain their flexibility, suppleness and coordination. There is an increased flow of blood to the eyes, bringing greater amounts of nutritive material. The tissues gain better tone and strength, and recovery is facilitated. The following exercises should be employed by all who have weak eyes. Blink several times between the movements. Blinking will enable you to do more exercise and will keep your eyes from getting sore, especially where you are doing the exercises for the first time.

1. With your middle finger very gently massage the closed eyes in a rotary motion.

2. Alternately close the eyes very tightly and open them as wide as possible. Do this at least 20 times per day. When you squeeze your eyes shut, the tissues around them are exercised, and this does much to prevent the formation of unattractive lines in the surrounding skin. The muscles attached to the eyeball are also exercised, and the tear glands, which supply an alkaline secretion which keeps the eyes bright and clean, are stimulated.

3. Look upward and then downward as far as you can. Alternate the movement. Do not move the head in doing this exercise; move only the eyeballs.

4. Look to the right and then to the left as far as possible.

5. Look up and to the right, then down and left. Reverse the movement and look up and to the left and down and to the right.

6. Roll the eyes around in a circular motion. Look to the right, down, to the left, upward and then to the right again. Repeat at least 10 times and reverse the direction of the movement.

7. Hold a pencil or similar object about 10 or 11 inches from your eyes. First look at the end of the pencil for a few seconds; then look at some object in the distance. Do this alternately at least a dozen times.

8. Hold some object about 14 inches from your eyes. Then move it in every possible manner- up, down, to the right, to the left, obliquely and in a circular path. Keep your eyes on the moving object all the time but do not move your head. This calls into action all of the six important eye muscles


Most of the things which optometrists tell us harm the eyes, are really good for them. Reading fine print, reading in a dim light, reading in a moving automobile or streetcar, reading while lying down- all of these have been claimed to weaken the eyes. However, in reality, they do not hurt the eyes at all. You can read all the fine print you wish and it will actually improve your eyesight. You can't gain strong eyes by pampering them. The eyes were made for use and the more they are used, within certain limits, the stronger they will be.

Now we come to the question of glasses. One of the first things most students of eye gymnastics ask is: "Will I be able to discard my glasses?" In most cases the glasses can be discarded; the only exceptions are those individuals whose eyes possess mechanical deformities such as flattened lens. Simple eye ailments such as nearsightedness and farsightedness quickly respond to eye gymnastics. It should be remembered that eyeglasses in themselves never remedy eye troubles. They are simply crutches, and the more they are used the weaker the eyes become. As the eyes weaken the glasses must be changed. The new glasses have stronger lenses and the eyes are correspondingly weakened still further. If the patient lives long enough for this process to be carried to its logical conclusion, blindness is often expected. So if you wear glasses and do not suffer from a mechanical eye defect the first thing to do is to discard them. The longer you wear them the more difficult it will eventually be to bring your eyes back to a normal, healthy condition.

After discarding your glasses begin an eye-training program which includes attention to every hygienic measure that has been proven helpful to the eye. First go on a fast in order to improve the general condition of your body and hence give your eyes a better chance to become healthy. The length of this fast should depend on the condition your eyes are in while being treated. If you have cataracts it will be necessary to undertake a long fast. Other eye troubles do not often call for long fasts. After the fast pay the greatest attention to your diet. Remember to use only uncooked foods which are rich in vitamins and minerals. Give your eyes daily sunbaths, palm them at periodic intervals, blink them as often as you can, and use all of the different eye exercises everyday. By doing this you should notice a distinct improvement in your eyesight within a few weeks to a few months. During the fast there may be some improvement, and as you get well along in your eye gymnastics you will notice that your eyes are stronger than ever. Don't expect miracles. There won't be any. The possession of perfect eyesight does not come overnight. But in the end, if you pursue your work every day, you should gain a set of normal, healthy eyes which require no artificial contrivances of any kind to enable you to see easily and clearly.

Friday, August 15th, 2003, 04:06 AM
Be curious to know how many people needed glasses just 100 years ago and how many need them now.

In former times people had to cope without glasses. Until the late 19th century glasses remained something for the rich. And of course not only the rich had impaired vision. I don't see how vision had an effect on evolution. Normally a bad vision is not genetically coded, so there could not have been a real selection on that parameter.

Friday, August 15th, 2003, 04:12 AM
Cosmo is right, but its a slippery slope...
Virtually every aspect of first-world existence is a "crutch" against natural selection in one way or another.
Medicine enables people to survive diseases, injuries and defects that would remove them from the gene pool otherwise.
Housing and clothing shield us from the elements.
Modern food production infrastructure eliminates the need to be a skilled hunter.
The list is endless....
Sure, we could do away with all of these things in order to live more in accordance with natural selection. The question is, would that be for the better? I am inclined to say no...

Friday, August 15th, 2003, 01:45 PM
Better vision without Glasses by Klassen

Probably the biggest crock I've ever read. Half-truths at best, some recommendations outright dangerous to follow.

Friday, August 15th, 2003, 09:47 PM
Glasses have no wait on evolution at all. It is genetical chance.

My father wears glasses, my mother does not. My sister inhereted the gene, and she wears glasses, I lucked out.

Saturday, August 16th, 2003, 06:53 AM
We have to be careful about generalising! The higher (mainly verbal) IQ correlation is completely obvious only with myopic males. Furthermore, unless you're particularly fortunate, you WILL need glasses some of the time to correct longsightedness ('reading glasses') in advancing years.

Sunday, July 10th, 2005, 06:35 PM
Probably the biggest crock I've ever read. Half-truths at best, some recommendations outright dangerous to follow.
I was actually going to try the diet and some exercises actually. I am going to see my optometrist sometime soon and I can probably ask some questions from her.

Dr. Solar Wolff
Monday, July 11th, 2005, 08:04 AM
Try lutein from the health food store or in multi-vitamins. It improved my eyesight almost overnight. Name someone you know who started wearing glasses and then got better and didn't need them. You will only get worse if you begin and need thicker lenses with time.

Monday, July 11th, 2005, 07:22 PM
Have there been any scientific studies whose results support the theories of Dr. Bates (in the Klassen article above)? My father was a product of the "no glasses" theory. When he was young, his mother took him to eye doctors who would patch his good eye, have him do various "exercizes" on his bad eye, etc. (The idea behaind patching the good eye is to force the bad eye to work correctly.) In the end, he is legally blind in his left eye. What vision he had was not improved but was taken away. His right eyes has very poor vision that requires glasses for correction. His left lense in his glasses is nothing more than clear glass and has been for almost his entire life. For those who do not know what legally blind is, basically, he can only see some gradiants of light and dark, but no image. To date, there is no corrective surgery that can restore his vision in his left eye. When he was in the military, he was almost given a medical discharge several times for his eyes. Finally, several years after he became an officer in the Air Force, they sent him to an Army doctor to be evaluated to determine if he would be released or not. The doctor looked at him and basically said, "I don't have a problem with your eyes. Do you?" My father said that he had no problem either, and the doctor signed a permanent waiver in his records for his eye sight. My father's eye sight has no impact on his cognitive abilities-- he is highly intelligent, and the quickest person I have met at performing math equations in his head. Because of his ability to see out of only one eye, he has good aiming abilities with guns and has been awarded a marksman award while in the military. He is an avid golfer, quite good, and loves running (he has ran in a marathons and various smaller races.). His eyes sight has had no negative impact on his life. There is not way of knowing if he had been treated differently as a child if he still would have lost his vision.

Monday, July 11th, 2005, 08:47 PM
Ideally I should probably simply get laser eye surgery. Yet Lutein sounds cheaper. :)

fms panzerfaust
Saturday, September 23rd, 2006, 06:28 PM

Monday, October 2nd, 2006, 03:44 PM
Ideally I should probably simply get laser eye surgery. Yet Lutein sounds cheaper. :)

The vision after eye laser surgery procedures is not so good in quality as using glasses.Laser surgery causes ''starlights'', halo, glare, vitreous floaters and sometimes diplopia, the called high-order aberrations..that cant be solved by glasses.And it´s not so secure... can cause retinal detatchment


Monday, October 2nd, 2006, 06:36 PM
The vision after eye laser surgery procedures is not so good in quality as using glasses.Laser surgery causes ''starlights'', halo, glare, vitreous floaters and sometimes diplopia, the called high-order aberrations..that cant be solved by glasses.And it´s not so secure... can cause retinal detatchment


Surely the benefit of not wearing glasses outweighs possible night time glare, which will not occur for everyone.

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006, 07:14 PM
Surely the benefit of not wearing glasses outweighs possible night time glare, which will not occur for everyone.


Wednesday, October 4th, 2006, 07:40 PM
Sure, there are disasters. But many many more people will have had the treatment - LASIK or PRK (I think it's called) - and are liberated by it. I wouldn't discourage someone from exploring it themselves.

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006, 07:57 PM
Sure, there are disasters. But many many more people will have had the treatment - LASIK or PRK (I think it's called) - and are liberated by it. I wouldn't discourage someone from exploring it themselves.

If you don´t mind with low QUALITY of vision ( besides high quantity...), it can be a good idea.High order aberrations occurs always.

Thursday, October 5th, 2006, 09:05 AM
I posted this thread about the subject


fms panzerfaust
Thursday, October 5th, 2006, 11:05 PM
Bates says in his book to palm and imagine black. I dont see entirely black, but a darker tonality of the color of my own skin, because of the absence of light. I see flashes of green too, of objects on my room. This happens more if I look at the white light of the bulb.
I drawn a big C, half a foot, in a paper, put it in a door. Can see it at one foot perfectly, two feet not-so-perfectly, three feet or more I still recognize that is a C, because it's big, but is blurred in it's margin, mixed with the light.
Above the C I drawn a black box, using a thick pencil, and concentrate on it, as was told to do in the Bates book. Closed eyes, and at one time, I get a more black vision, but after that cant get it anymore.
Between the C and the box I drawn the word Zeus, with greek caracters, one centimeter and a half in height. I sit at my computer, and when I look to the paper, see only a blur, cant distinguish no one of the caracters, only the big C and the box. The box, a rectangle, is blurred in it's margins.

I'm still trying. Now is more than a week since I dont use the glass anymore, only to watch movies with subtitles, that requires more distance than one feet. I still see letters blurred in the street. At the beggining it feels some pain, but this stopped after some time, now I can use the computer because it's thirty centimeters or less of distance from the monitor. My periferic vision increased, because there are more focal points in the eye, and the glass only have one.

Friday, November 24th, 2006, 11:41 AM
Fallacies of the Bates System (1956)
Philip Pollack, O.D.
In "De Oculis," a medieval handbook consisting of lectures to medical students, Benevenutus Grassus of Jerusalem, foremost oculist and surgeon of the Middle Ages, described his cure for a "fog over the pupil" as follows:

For this condition, I will prescribe, for your information, a marvellous cure, the result of my experience in such cases. Take a precious stone we call sapphire. Powder it most thoroughly in a metal mortar and store it in a golden vase. Put a little into the patient's eye every day and he will soon be cured [1].

To a remarkable extent, this quotation resembles many passages in "Perfect Sight Without Glasses." Benevenutus lived in a prescientific age when objective methods of medical investigation were little known or practiced. His lectures are full of ex cathedra judgments, unsupported by the opinion or the observations of other investigators. They bristle with dogmatic claims of miraculous cures in private practice -- claims that must be taken on faith, as he offers little proof or evidence beyond the authority of his reputation.

The same qualities characterize the book by Dr. Bates. As we shall show in this chapter, the few experiments he describes are demonstrably crude; he did not seem to understand how to use the retinoscope for the detection of refractive errors; his methods of treatment are not consistent with each other; he uses the trick of making rare anomalies appear typical so as to confound the claims of orthodox authorities; and he shows a bland disregard of the findings of distinguished scientists whose conclusions are opposed to his own. Like Benevenutus, he equates scientific "proof" with testimonials and case histories of successful treatments in his office.

Let us begin our analysis of the Bates system with a consideration of his theory of accommodation.

Is the crystalline lens responsible for accommodation, as orthodox eye specialists claim; or has it nothing to do with accommodation, as Dr. Bates asserted?

It is relatively easy to settle this argument by a simple experiment. If you look into a person's eyes by candlelight, you will see two tiny images of the flame caused by reflection on the cornea of each eye. There are other images, though they are not seen so easily. The one that concerns us in this discussion is formed by reflection at the front surface of the natural lens.

As far back as 1837, a surgeon had observed that this image becomes smaller when a person shifts his gaze to a nearer point. This would indicate that the curvature of the lens must have changed, for it is a well-known fact that the image of an object reflected in a convex mirror becomes smaller in proportion as the curvature of the mirror is increased. It is hard to see the lens image with the naked eye and it was not until the latter part of the nineteenth century, when very bright light sources were used in conjunction with special optical devices to magnify the image, that observers could see it clearly for the first time. Careful investigations by Helmholtz, Tscherning, and Gullstrand (among others) confirmed the fact that the lens bulges forward when the eye accommodates, as shown by changes in the size of the image.

In 1940, the images were photographed clearly for the first time. It was then possible to make measurements of the changes in size of the image when the eyes accommodated, on the photographic record. Finally, in 1955, Wulfeck successfully photographed the image with infrared rays [2].

Figure 1 shows photographs taken by J. W. Wulfeck by this method. He used two light sources instead of one. Note that when the eye accommodates, not only are the images smaller but also they are closer together -- which is another consequence of the increase in curvature of the lens.

The Bates theory of accommodation collapses on other grounds. It would be theoretically impossible for the extrinsic muscles to alter the structure of the eyeball so as to meet the requirements of accommodation. The outside, white coat of the eyeball (the sclera) is not resilient and elastic, as shown by tests in the laboratory. Furthermore, when pressure inside an eye is increased by more than 500 per cent, the volume of the eyeball hardly changes, as shown by measurements (the increase is only 0.007 per cent of the original volume). This proves that the sclera does not yield very easily to pressure. Finally, the sclera becomes even more rigid and less resilient with age, especially after the age of 40 [3].

As stated by Duke-Elder, all authorities are in agreement that the lens increases in thickness during the act of accommodation. All, that is, with the exception of Dr. Bates!

Dr. Bates told in his book how he struggled for four years to obtain a photograph of the lens image, while the eye was at rest and while it was accommodating. He succeeded at last and found that the images were the same in size -- showing, as he stated, that the lens is not a factor in accommodation.

It is easy to understand why Dr. Bates failed to get the same results as those obtained by all other modern investigators. His apparatus and techniques were obviously crude. The photographs of the lens images shown in his book are so blurred that it is impossible to tell whether one image is larger than the other. Dr. Bates himself wrote that it was often "difficult or impossible" to obtain a clear image of a filament on the front surface of the lens [4].

That Dr. Bates' findings were undependable is shown by two other photographs. In the caption, Dr. Bates pointed out that the photograph of the eye accommodating shows more of the sclera (white of the eye) below the iris because of the "elongation" of the eyeball while it is accommodating. If we compare the two photographs, however, we can see the real reason. The eyeball had obviously turned up a trifle, thus exposing more of the white of the eye below the iris. This is proved by the fact that the upper margin of the pupil is much closer to the upper lid than in the other photograph!

In another experiment, Dr. Bates removed the crystalline lens in a rabbit's eye and then stimulated the oblique extrinsic muscles by means of an electric current. When he looked into the eye through a retinoscope, he reported, he detected a change in refraction, showing that contraction of the oblique muscles had caused the eye to accommodate, "as in the normal eye." He stated that a "number of ophthalmologists" had witnessed this demonstration and corroborated his finding. However, in the Winter Issue, 1949, of Sight-Saving Review, published by the National Society for the Prevention of Blindness (vol.19, p.233), Dr. Walter B. Lancaster reported that he was present when Dr. Risley, ophthalmologist from Philadelphia, examined the rabbit's eye through a retinoscope and told Dr. Bates he could detect no sign of a change of refraction. Dr. Bates looked again and said, according to Dr. Lancaster: "It isn't working today."

Throughout the book, Dr. Bates describes rare anomalies and, presenting them as typical, uses them to justify his theories. For example, it is true that, in an insignificant minority of cases, people whose lenses have been extracted because of cataracts can read small print through their distance glasses. This seems impossible since they have lost their power of accommodation and therefore should require reading glasses that are stronger than the distance pair. In studies of such cases, ophthalmologists concluded that the patients were able to do this by moving their distance glasses a trifle away from their eyes (which has the same effect as increasing the power) or by looking through the lenses obliquely, which has the same effect. In no case was there evidence of true accommodation [5].

Characteristically, while Dr. Bates referred to such cases as being in a "minority," this did not prevent him from writing in a later paragraph that the phenomenon occurs "often" and with "many people" -- and offering it as evidence that the lens has nothing to do with accommodation in normal eyes!

Dr. Bates used the same trick of making the rare appear typical, in his discussion of the effects of atropine. This drug paralyzes the ciliary muscle and therefore the accommodation, so that a person cannot read without reading glasses until the effect of the "drops" wears off. Dr. Bates, however, cited cases reported in medical journals in which accommodation remained active in spite of the drug. Dr. Bates wrote that the evidence against the orthodox theory of accommodation in cases like these is "overwhelming." Apparently, he forgot that, only a few pages previously, he had stated that in "about nine cases out of ten," the effects of atropine agree with the orthodox theory of accommodation. In other words, In only one out of ten cases do the results support his theory. Yet he calls this "overwhelming" evidence! There is nothing mysterious about the failure of a single dose of atropine to paralyze the accommodation in all cases. As stated in authoritative works on the eye, repeated doses of the drug are sometimes necessary.

On the basis of such "science" was the Bates movement built.

The Bates theory of accommodation is not only fallacious; it is not even a new theory-as claimed by his supporters. The idea that the eyeball elongates when it accommodates was held by Sturm, Listing, and other scientists in the early nineteenth century. They abandoned it, however, when studies of the lens image proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that accommodation is produced by changes in the curvature of the lens. Dr. Bates is regarded as a discoverer of new truths by his disciples [6]. Yet all he did was to resuscitate a discredited, early-nineteenth-century theory, moving not forward to the future but backward to the past.

Dr. Bates' interpretations of his findings are not always consistent throughout the book. During most of it, he seems to base his system of treatment on his theory of accommodation; but when he discusses "wrong thoughts" as the cause of nearsightedness and farsightedness, the argument shifts. It is not the extrinsic muscles in this case that are responsible for the refractive errors, but disturbances in the circulation of the blood! Nor do these muscles seem to enter the picture when it comes to staring -- which produces poor vision, according to Dr. Bates, because the eyes are used to continual movement and staring causes a loss of vision in the macula.

Let us consider the latter explanation for a moment. If there is loss of vision in the macula, the most sensitive spot on the retina, this is a serious matter. It means that there is inflammation, degeneration of the macula, or atrophy of part of the optic nerve that connects the eyeball to the brain. The statement that such a pathological condition can be created by staring is another link that connects "Perfect Sight With-out Glasses" with "De Oculis."

Not a single exercise in the Bates system has any value whatsoever as far as reducing refractive errors is concerned. Take "palming." According to Dr. Bates, when you close your eyes and palm them, you see a perfect black if your eyes are normal, and gray shapes or colors if you are farsighted or nearsighted.

The truth is: nobody, whether his eyes are normal or otherwise, can see a perfect black when his eyes are closed. As stated by Duke-Elder, even a healthy eye is never free from luminous sensations under these conditions. What one sees is a slightly luminous field that is neither black nor white but a "subdued 'mean gray.'" Besides, there are fluctuations between darker and lighter tones, the changes corresponding to the respiratory rhythm [7]. There may be spots or ribbons of light, or floating luminous clouds. This is all due to the intrinsic light of the retina" -- caused, according to scientists, either by mechanical pressure of the blood against certain cells of the retina, or by other factors. It has no possible relationship with nearsightedness or farsightedness.

One of the strangest things in this strange book is Dr. Bates' methods of determining whether or not a person's vision is normal. He can tell by merely looking at him or at his photograph! If a person is staring or squinting a little, he is ipso facto myopic at that particular moment. Captions beneath photographs in his book of primitive people refer to individuals in the group who have "temporarily imperfect sight" or are "probably myopic." It need hardly be pointed out that a person with normal vision may also stare or squint as well as a nearsighted person. Only a careful, scientific eye examination can reveal whether eyes are normal or not.

On other occasions, however, Dr. Bates seems to be more scientific, and bases his findings on the retinoscope. Unfortunately, his method of using this valuable instrument (which determines objectively whether a person is nearsighted or farsighted) is as bizarre as his other methods. The retinoscope is simply a piece of plane mirror with a peephole in the center, and a handle. The examiner reflects light from it into the interior of the patient's eye, which is fixed at a distant point. Watching behind the peephole, he sees the area of the pupil illuminated by an orange glow. By wiggling the mirror slightly, he may perceive a shadow moving across the area, either in the same direction as the movement of the mirror or in the opposite direction, depending on whether the eye is farsighted or nearsighted. For the best results, the examiner must be either 25 or 40 inches away from the patient.

Dr. Bates claimed that, when the examiner is so close, the patient is rendered nervous, and this, according to his theory, is enough to make him nearsighted or farsighted. Hence, he taught that the examiner should be six feet or more away from the patient. It is a simple fact, easily verified, that at this distance it is difficult, if not impossible, to perform accurate retinoscopy because the pupillary area seen is markedly reduced and the shadow is barely perceptible. It is difficult enough even at the usual distance to see the shadow clearly in many cases, especially when the pupils are small and the patient is old. One can only marvel at Dr. Bates' dogmatism regarding his findings under these conditions!

There is another, more serious criticism. When performing retinoscopy, it is important that the examiner make sure that the eye of the patient is fixed steadily on a distant point; otherwise the findings will be false. For example, if the patient is farsighted and he looks at a nearer object while being examined, the shadow will indicate nearsightedness instead. Was Dr. Bates careful to see that his patient's eye was fixed steadily at a distant point? He tells us that he used the retinoscope when the subjects were stationary and in motion; while they were sleeping and even under ether or chloroform; when the eyes were "partly closed"; when the pupil was contracted to a "pinpoint" by a drug; when the eyes were "oscillating" from side to side; and that he had examined the eyes of thousands of animals, including cats and dogs, with a retinoscope. These statements are a measure of the dependability of Dr. Bates' scientific research methods. It is impossible to get a reliable "shadow" when the pupil is as small as a pinpoint. There is obviously no shadow at all when the patient is asleep -- unless he sleeps with his eyes open. Nor can the doctor get other than fluctuating findings when the eyes of the patient are oscillating; and how can he ask a chloroformed patient to keep looking at a distant spot? How can he ask it of a dog or a cat and then make sure the animal does not shift his gaze?

The reader may now begin to understand how it was that Dr. Bates obtained his weird findings. Take the case of the girl with normal vision who suddenly became nearsighted, according to the retinoscope, when she told a lie. What probably happened was that she shifted her gaze to a near point, unknown to the doctor, while he was reflecting the light into her eye. Apparently, since Dr. Bates used the retinoscope on oscillating eyes, it did not matter to him whether or not the patient shifted his eyes during the examination. That would explain the rapidly changing refractive findings he found in so many cases-fluctuations that were due, not to tension or emotions, as he claimed, but simply to the fact that he did not use the retinoscope properly!

The daily and cumulative experience of eye specialists everywhere contradicts Dr. Bates' claim that refractive errors change from day to day and even from minute to minute. Glasses rarely have to be changed oftener than from one to two or even three years, depending on the age of the patient and other factors. In all but a tiny minority of cases, the emotional state of a patient has no effect on the nature or the degree of the refractive error, which depends chiefly on the structure of the eyeball. Eye specialists frequently tell their patients reporting for re-examination after a lapse of one or two years that their glasses are still correct and require no changing. Yet, since seeing the doctor last, the patient may have told innumerable lies; staggered through more than one emotional crisis; or gone through bankruptcy or divorce. To experienced eye specialists, Dr. Bates' claim that eye defects are ephemeral by-products of strain is utterly fantastic. Many people whose eyes need strong glasses are normal and adjusted, while others who do not need glasses are tense and neurotic.

This is not to deny that emotional shock or strain can cause serious disturbances in vision. In some cases, temporary blindness may result (hysterical amblyopia), or the patient may complain of blind spots in his field of vision. Fear and tension have been known to afflict soldiers on combat duty with night blindness so that they see poorly under twilight conditions.

These disturbances, however, have nothing to do with refractive errors. The reader should keep this distinction firmly in mind. During such attacks, a person does not become nearsighted, as Dr. Bates claimed; his loss of vision is not refractive, but results from disturbances in the brain and the sympathetic nervous system.

On the other hand, sudden changes in refraction may be caused by disease or the use of drugs. If you have diabetes, you may have to change your glasses more than once during the year. Then again, in the initial state of cataract, the crystalline lens swells up before becoming opaque, making a normal eye temporarily nearsighted. "Transient myopia," as it is called, also may be caused by high altitude, drugs, or a spasm of the ciliary muscle. None of these effects disproves the orthodox theory of accommodation; on the contrary, they support it.

As to staring into the sun, an important part of the Bates therapy -- this is positively dangerous to sight. It may cause an inflammation of the retina ("solar retinitis") resulting in permanent damage to the delicate tissue. That is why eye specialists warn the public not to watch an eclipse of the sun without using dark sunglasses. According to Dr. Paul Tower, distinguished ophthalmologist: "Even a reflecting white surface or lightning may produce permanent damage." [8] Dr. Tower reported nine cases of solar retinitis among school children within two weeks of a solar eclipse. The children suffered a permanent loss of vision to a considerable extent. Dr. Tower wrote: "Permanent reduction of vision is also observed among anti-spectacle faddists who believe they will strengthen their eyes by gazing directly into the sun."

Dr. Bates admitted in his book that organic changes may result from staring into the sun. He claimed, however, that they are temporary, and that the blind spots experienced are "mental illusions." This is dangerous nonsense. The nine children cited by Dr. Tower would receive scant comfort if they were told that their loss of vision is nothing but a mental illusion!

Equally dangerous is the Bates method of treating glaucoma. This is one of the most serious of all eye diseases. It has been called the "sneak thief of sight" because it is often difficult to detect and may destroy sight little by little. If caught in time by the ophthalmologist, treatment can prevent loss of vision; a delay of a few days in an "acute" attack may result in blindness. It has been estimated that 1,000,000 people over the age of 40 have glaucoma without knowing it. There is only one method of treating the disease, and that is the use of drugs or surgery or a combination of both. The Bates treatment is worse than useless, for, while the patient is palming and trying to see black, pressure on the optic nerve, caused by the disease, continues unabated, and the damage to sight may be irreparable. If you have glaucoma and are thinking of trying the Bates system of treatment, you should ponder the words of Dr. Glen R. Shepherd, who stated that many people with glaucoma have wasted precious time and have become blind while exercising their eyes in a vain attempt to cure the condition [9].

Consider another eye disease treated by Dr. Bates: cataract, which is an opacity of the lens that prevents light from reaching the retina, so that vision is blurred or abolished. No measures of any kind, apart from surgery -- neither exercises, diathermy, medicine, nor drugs -- can reduce a cataract or make it disappear. The only effective treatment is surgical extraction of the lens itself. People with cataracts, as we shall show in the next chapter, can be persuaded that they see better after treatment by the Bates method, but their "improvement" in vision is illusory.

Dr. Bates' book abounds in misstatements, some of which even an intelligent schoolboy can refute. Stars, he wrote, do not twinkle for people with normal vision; twinkling is an "optical illusion." If an astronomer had explained to Dr. Bates that the twinkling of stars is caused by heat waves radiating from the earth, would he have stared incredulously? Probably not, since he was opposed to staring.

Again, consider his statement that floating specks ("muscae volitantes") are optical illusions resulting from eyestrain. It is an incontrovertible fact that these specks are caused by translucent or opaque bodies floating in the vitreous humor of the eye and casting shadows on the retina. Far from being optical illusions, they are physical bodies that can be seen, when sufficiently large, by means of the ophthalmoscope. Dr. Bates claimed that they are illusions because he could not find them after a careful search. Perhaps the reason was that he used a "magnifying glass" -- and one cannot see the deep interior of the eye with a magnifying glass.

On the same medieval-science level in his statement that glasses make a woman color-blind. This simply does not make sense, as color-blindness is an inherited defect which is unaffected by glasses. He claimed that colors appeared dull through corrective lenses, but the reverse is true. To a nearsighted person without glasses, colors are vague and dull. With glasses, the colors appear clear and brilliant, the reason being that colors as well as forms are blurred when they are not focused sharply on the macula of the retina.

As to memory and familiarity with an object, which, according to Dr. Bates, can eliminate refractive errors, all they do is enable us to interpret blurred shapes more easily. If you are not familiar with the Greek alphabet and you see a slightly blurred character that is really delta, you will not be able to guess what it is, but your familiarity with English will enable you to identify most English letters that are blurred to the same extent. This does not mean, as Dr. Bates contends, that your vision is normal for English letters and myopic for Greek letters!

It hardly seems necessary to refute any more of the misstatements in the book, such as the claim that movements of an object produce nearsightedness or farsightedness. We have said enough to indicate that the book is, in the words of Martin Gardner, "a fantastic compendium of wildly exaggerated case records, unwarranted inferences and anatomical ignorance." [10]

The claims made by Dr. Bates in advertising his book were so dubious that, on May 28, 1929, the Federal Trade Commission issued a complaint against him for advertising "falsely or misleadingly." [11]

As stated by the National Society for the Prevention of Blindness: "There is no basis in fact for extravagant claims of 'curing' such eye defects as nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism (all of which are related to structural conditions) by means of eye exercises." [12]

Despite the fact that Dr. Bates' book was published over 35 years ago, in the words of Dr. Louis H. Schwartz, ophthalmologist: "Nowhere in the world has the medical profession accepted them." He added: "Many patients supposedly cured by the Bates method had later to fall back on glasses again." [13]

Dr. Sidney A. Fox, another ophthalmologist, has pointed out that nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism are "static, anatomic conditions" and, as such, cannot be affected by eye exercises. He added that changes in refraction take place as a result of growing older [14].

The matter is summed up succinctly by Dr. Glen R. Shepherd, who stated that eye exercises cannot reduce or eliminate any condition caused by "structural defect of the eyeball" -- hence they cannot possibly reduce or eliminate any refractive errors [15].

As we have seen, Dr. Bates attached much importance to memory. Years before his book appeared, he had published a paper in a medical journal entitled: "Memory as an Aid to Vision."

The reason for this emphasis may be found, perhaps, in the obituary that appeared in the July 11, 1931 issue of the New York Times, when Dr. Bates died. Under the subhead, "Victim, Many Years Ago, of a Strange Form of Amnesia, He Disappeared Twice," the obituary tells the strange story of how Dr. Bates had vanished seven years after graduation from the College of Physicians and Surgeons and how his wife found him later in London in a state of nervous exhaustion, with no recollection of recent events. She took him to a hotel but, after two days, he disappeared again. His wife sought him in different European countries but died without being able to locate him. Dr. Bates later reappeared in the Middle West. He started a practice in New York and married again.

A strange man -- and a strange book.

"De Oculis," by Benevenutus Grassus of Jerusalem, translated by Casey A. Wood, p.58, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1929.
"Infrared Photography of the So-Called Third Purkinje Image," by Joseph W. Wulfeck, Journal of the Optical Society of America, 45:950, November 1955.
"Textbook of Ophthalmology" by W. S. Duke-Elder, Vol.1, p.744 St. Louis, Mosby, 1946.
0p. cit., W. H. Bates, p. 61.
"Apparent Accommodation in Aphakic Eyes," by J. W. Bettman, American Journal of Ophthalmology, June, 1950.
In his book. Dr. Harold M. Peppard wrote that, until the discoveries of Dr. Bates at the beginning of this century, the eye was like a country that had not yet been discovered. (See "Sight Without Glasses." pp.4, 5, New York, Perma Books. 1955.)
Op. cit., Duke-Elder, p.807.
"Differential Diagnosis of Common Diseases of the Eyeground," by Paul Tower, M.D., p. 173, New York, Grune & Stratton, 1953.
'Exercises Are Not a Cure for Structural Eye Defects," by Glen R. Shepherd, M.D., Des Moines (Iowa) Tribune, September 8, 1955, p.5.
"In the Name of Science," by Martin Gardner, p. 2~1, Putnam, 1952.
"Federal Trade Decisions," Vol. 14, p.510. The complaint was dismissed on January 13, 1931.
Publication 22, National Society for the Prevention of Blindness, Inc., p.1.
"Your Eyes Have Told Me," by Louis H. Schwartz, M.D., p. 106, New York, Dutton, 1945.
"Your Eyes," by Sidney A. Fox, M.D., p.138, New York, Knopf, 1944.
Op. cit., Glen R. Shepherd, p.5.

This article was originally published as Chapter 3 in Dr. Pollack's book The Truth about Eye Exercises, published in 1956 by the Chilton Co of Philadelphia.

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010, 05:22 PM
Myopia is partially genetic, to inherit the tendency. But it is most definitely sparked by some form of eye strain relating to reading or other close work. It is documented the extremely low prevalence of myopia in hunter-gatherer societies and after western influence, the subsequent jump in the percentage of myopia in children attending school.