Bates Method Eye Exercises

Hey, look.  It’s time for a Bates Method (and eye exercises) rant. Or is it? I should put a standard disclaimer on all Bates Method posts.  I’m not anti-Bates Method at all.  In fact, if […]

Jake Steiner

Sep 08,2016 · 7 min read

Hey, look.  It’s time for a Bates Method (and eye exercises) rant.

Or is it?

I should put a standard disclaimer on all Bates Method posts.  I’m not anti-Bates Method at all.  In fact, if optometry back in those old-timey, we-don’t-know-much-about-biology times would have gone the Bates direction, I’d say we wouldn’t have a myopia problem today.  

Important note:  If you want to get started improving your own eyesight, I offer a number of courses, including options for one-on-one support with me personally.  Check out the courses page for what’s currently available to help your eyeballs.

At all.  Millions of people would be having other jobs, besides in optometry and lens making, and LASIK surgery selling, and retinal detachment check-up-ing.  

Bates Was On The Right Track

Eye strain is the problem, Bates said.  Relax the eyes.  Close-up is a problem.  Lenses are bad.  Yea, you old timey hippie, you were right on the money.  Unfortunately that was an unprofitable idea even back then, and it went against established dogma, even back then.  So you got buried, William Horatio.  You were a smart guy but not smart enough not to meddle with the establishment.  

I feel a certain kinship with Bates, in that respect.  We all should.  He was the OG of natural myopia control, and sticking up against a stupid, profit-focused, arrogant establishment.

But remember, that was a century ago.  Today’s eye strain problems are bigger than anything Bates could have imagined (hey, Netflix on iPads, the devil himself invented that one).  There’s also lens induced myopia, which wasn’t even a thing back in the horse ‘n buggy days of Bates.

And the guys peddling “eye exercises” under the brand of “Bates Method” today, would have been the ones hawking cure-all snake oil back in Bates times.  Respect for Bates and history, less so for eye exercise nonsense.  Bates Method gets in the way of finding real solutions, which is why I really, really don’t like it.

Bates Method Eye Exercises: Palming

Here’s just one example for Bates method that make little sense in the modern context.  

This exercise doesn’t address what caused your myopia, therefore it can’t well improve it either.  I wrote a whole article explaining why eye exercises for myopia just don’t work.  I also wrote a separate article about Bates’ Methods palming.

Here’s a video I made on Bates Method, palming in particular:

It just doesn’t make sense today.

Does Bates Method Make Sense, Today?

It’s just going to Adam’s post in the forum, making some important incidental points about why we should all be anti fake Bates Method eye exercises peddlers:

Hello everyone

I think that about 5 months into the Back to 20/20, it’s high time to finally say hello : )

I am 34 years old and have had myopia for around 25 years now. It started with -1D at primary school and has progressed over years all the way to -6 / -7 D. I was always very unhappy about being shortsighted. I know quite a lot of people also wearing glasses, but they don’t really seem very much concerned. Me, I hated it from the very beginning and nothing has changed till now : ) What might be interesting is that I am not a new-comer to ‘natural’ methods for myopia reversal. In fact, I have started doing eye-exercises 12 or 13 years ago. Unfortunately, with no reduction of shortsightedness achieved. When I first began, the concept of natural myopia correction was really uncommon in Poland, where I live. By pure luck I discovered courses organised here by a doctor from Lithuania, who claimed to teach exercises giving back sharp eyesight.

At that time, I had no idea whatsoever about such things. It was a discovery! Now of course I know that he simply taught us few exercises proposed by Bates, like palming, eye rotations and also a specific exercise for ciliary muscle. I started doing the exercises with great motivation and actually had some improvement of vision, but after first reduction of contact lenses (I took 0.5 D less), I simply wouldn’t progress anymore. Then eyesight even got worse. To give you a full story of these 13 years would take way too long and is not really relevant. Long story short : I kept digging, searched all info I could find on natural eyesight correction , tried new and new exercises, had some improvements, then lost them, but all this time I kept trying.

Even with no visible results, I just never lost hope that my eyesight can be fixed. Or maybe it is not fair to say that I had no results, as for the last 10 years my myopia has not progresses much (I think 1D, plus some more astigmatism), not bad considering my all-day at computer work. Also, not to be ignored – after discovering eye-exercises, I knew for sure that laser surgery is a ‘solution’ to be avoided at all cost.

Early 2016 I have found out about Back to 20/20 while searching about text pushing approach. After some hesitation I enrolled in the program in March. The price made me consider a bit, but after seeing success stories, I decided it’s worth trying. After few months, I still think so. I have not yet made a big reduction in prescription, but my starting point was slightly different. Rather than overprescribed, I had an under prescription. My glasses (-5/-6 D) were actually at times feeling too weak even for laptop work. Contact lenses, same strength, sometimes felt really fine, but quite often my vision was definitely way too blurry in them. Once I started to apply Jake’s habit building, things got better. Glasses became sharper than needed for computer work. In fact, on sunny days, I could see 20/20 on Snellen with them. So recently I changed them to -4.75/-5.75. Same for contact lenses, I switched to 0.25 weaker, as the previous ones felt like 20/20 most of the time. Basically from defense I switched to attack mode on myopia : ) I am aware that after 25 years of shortsightedness, it will take lots of time to motivate eyes to improve significantly. But I am prepared for it.

I am also very happy about my initial improvement, it is about 0.5 D on both eyes so far. What I find really remarkable about Jake’s approach is the habit building idea. I absolutely agree with it, no other way. Before, after a hard day, quite often I would skip eye exercises or do them really late in the evening, feeling depressed about no results. Now, what a change – active focus turns my day at office with laptop into all-day exercise, which I truly enjoy. How cool is that, huh? Thanks Jake for building Backto20/20, I’ll stay in touch on the forum, hopefully to report nice progress.

That’s nice right?  But also, did you get the part I get annoyed about?

I want you to find solutions to your myopia, sadly though what’s promoted as Bates Method today, doesn’t do the trick.

Eye Exercises That Just. Don’t. Work.

Yes, the Bates eye exercises.  The problem is that people find that because it’s marketed by a million little slimy worms who don’t know or care about biology, optics, research on Google Scholar, or even a little logic and reason.  I wrote a whole extensive article about eye exercises and myopia causality that may be worth reading.

Sell a five dollar ebook, take away somebody’s curiosity and motivation to improve their eyesight. People try those exercises, fail, and then assume that the optometrist was right all along.

Also, how about those 20/20 gains Adam is making?  All that persistence, finally paying off!  And Adam knows, better than a lot of people, what to look for now.  Building habits.  A sustainable practice to create positive stimulus, to reduce strain, to leverage reduced diopters.  

If you found us before digging through all the Bates Method eye exercises, consider yourself extra lucky.  Now go, get those eyes back in shape!

Curious for more on Bates Method?  Check out this huge library of all the dirt on Bates Method, including what works and what doesn’t!

And lastly …

Improving Your Eyesight – The Right Way

Yes you can absolutely improve your eyesight.  It takes time, it takes building habits, it takes not just listening to some “Bates Method teacher” and blindly (heh) following some eye exercise regimen.

Start with this video, on actually improving your eyesight:




Jake Steiner

Reformed stock trader. Kite surfer, pilot, vagabond. Father. And of course - the last of the living, imaginarily bearded eye gurus.

Topic:  Bates Method

Bates Method

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