Have you been up all night, searching for the ultimate guide on Bates Method palming exercises? Are wondering just how to best put your hands on your face?
Then this guide is for you!
Warning: If you have an irrational and possibly highly emotional belief that Bates Method is amazing, you maybe won’t like this post completely. Because as usual, we’ll be mixing a bit of truth and education in with some gratuitous sarcasm.
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.
First, realize that Bates Method as it exists today is not likely something that William Bates himself would be endorsing (if he were alive now). A lot of the things you read out there are entire made up by people who read some fringe “medicine” ideas from a hundred years ago, and appropriated them (often for financial gain). Think about how many fringe ideas from Western medicine from a 100 years ago were a good idea. Ice picks to the brain to help with depression? Cocaine for baby cough syrup? Electroshock therapy?
Right. It was a period in Western medicine a lot like when you were first learning to ride a bike. Except you at one point stopped falling down all the time. Progress. It’s the idea behind endmyopia, evolving with the times for more effective myopia control tools.
Let’s get started, with the palming:
How Bates Method Palming Works
Palming is simple.
It replaces your crusty, blurry natural vision, with … no vision at all. World look blurry? Put your hands in front of your eyes.
Bam. Blurry vision problem solved.
Effective at immediately stopping myopia.
Nobody can argue the effectiveness of this one.
Of course back in the day the idea was that you would be relaxing your eyes. And it was part of a whole theme of exercises, designed to improve your visual awareness, which was a great idea. Bates was on the right track. But then Bates didn’t anticipate smartphones and office jobs in front of computer screens, or that his darling optometry establishment would start raking in hundreds of billions of dollars by selling glasses (instead of addressing the problem).
Bates quaint idea of actually addressing a problem, the cause, steamrolled by for-profit optometry. Welcome to reality, Batesey. People like money.
Here’s the positive point:
You can improve your eyesight. Awareness, an applicable concept. As is reducing eye strain. Palming, as a philosophical concept, is relevant. Take it as a “hey stop staring at that screen for 17 hours” message, rather than literally putting your palms in front of your face and hoping for the best.
Or even … :
Better Than Bates Method Palming
Let’s not get stuck on literalism. Bates wasn’t trying to create a dogmatic gospel.
If Bates was alive today, he’d have access to current medical science, to clinical studies. He’s also see how the problem evolved and likely take all of this modern context to create a better, more effective solution to the myopia problem. He was a smart man, a daring man (to oppose his peers), we have to imagine that he’d modernize his approach to fit today’s reality.
Take the concept of relaxing your eyes. Take the concept of relaxing the ciliary (focusing) muscle:
That’s where your eye strain is.
And then realize that there’s better ways than facepalming, available to you.
Go outside. Actively focus on distant writing. Instead of passively trying to relax that ciliary muscle, do it actively. Challenge your eyes to see far, which in turn sends the signal to relax that ciliary, to flatten the lens in your eye.
You can do this every time you go outside. You can get an hour or more of this a day, as a habit, rather than an artificial, barely productive exercise (like palming).
And if you’re here, new to how myopia happens, read the primer on eyesight.
More Vision Resources
There is no quick fix exercise.
There’s only educated habit changes, keeping track of changes to your vision, checking the effectiveness of what you are doing, and continually tweaking your daily eyeball habits to head in the opposite direction of more myopia.
We have a whole section of the blog here dedicated just to Bates, and how that’s likely to waste your time.
And more productively, there is the science section. and a whole lot of how-to guides on improving your vision, and a boat load of individual progress reports, experiences, suggestions, and ideas. And then you have the Q&A area, a whole category just to talk lenses and diopters, and a whole lot more.
Yes, it’s more work up front than signing up for some eye exercise regimen. No, it’s not as hippie cool as Bates and palming.
Here’s a less sarcastic, more video explainer on Bates Method palming (and alternatives):
About to palm.
There you have it.
Be weary of dogma and blind faith ideas, especially and ironically if they involve literal face palms. Look at vision biology, ask the tough questions, try things for yourself, and track your own progress. Figure out what works for you, yourself, rather than just following the herd.