Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.
The eyes have been called the “window of the soul”. Through our eyes, we express our inner feelings and receive information from light sources. All of us hope to have a pair of healthy eyes. Unfortunately, in this era, our eyesight has generally deteriorated from prolonged viewing of flat images arising from reading books, watching television programmes, and using the computer. Once the eyes lack the opportunity to see objects with different degrees of depth, they lose this natural ability, and develop ailments such as myopia, farsightedness, astigmatism, glaucoma, and cataracts. Children’s eyesight is deteriorating earlier, and the proportion of primary school students wearing glasses is on the rise. A principle of nature is “use it or lose it” – animals that are brought up in darkness have been shown to lose their power of sight because they have no use for it.
In this modern era, few people use their peripheral vision and most use their central vision. As a result, their peripheral vision deteriorates, the ability of their eyes to adjust for distance weakens, and their central vision is over-strained. This leads to myopia, farsightedness, and glaucoma. The way to improve our vision is to allow our eyes to resume their natural activities and rediscover their abilities. An American eye-specialist, Dr William Bates, M.D. (1860-1931), accidentally found that when one of his myopic patients unintentionally glance at the wall, her eyeballs were of a normal curvature; yet, when she deliberately tried to read words, her eyeballs became elongated. His research showed that vision deterioration occurred because the eyes are stressed from continuously engaging in activities, they are not naturally accustomed to. He taught many students how to recover their normal vision, and these students, in turn, transmitted this knowledge to others. Some of these beneficiaries included those who had been highly myopic people for a long time, and those who were almost blind. Many of them improved their vision and some did not need glasses any longer.
Let us now discuss Dr Bate’s findings:
Natural vision comes from continually moving our focus of attention. Focus on a small part of the object before looking at the entire object. For example, when looking at a chair, do not try to look at the entire chair right away; rather, focus on one part of the chair that is clear and then quickly shift the focus to other parts (e.g., shift from the back of the chair to its seat and then to its legs). If we try to see the entire object immediately, the object will be blur and we may develop an undesirable habit of staring at an object without blinking.
The eyes should be in continual movement. This keeps the eyes moist and prevent the eyes from staring. We may forget periodically blink our eyes when we read, watch television programmes or movies, and use the computer. Likewise, we may forget to blink when we are distracted or deep in thoughts. Staring at an object is a cause of our vision deterioration.
Breathing naturally is a good habit to adopt. Our eyes need the oxygen in our blood for nourishment.
Breathing naturally or yawning are ways to increase our oxygen intake. When we are engrossed in reading, watching television programmes or using the computer, we tend to forget to breathe, or breathe in a shallow manner. This leads to a deterioration in our vision.
According to Dr Bates, if we know the principles of using our natural vision and put them to practice, our vision will revert to normal. Eye ailments related to improper light refraction are functional and reversible. Stress to the eyes leads to eye problems. To verify this, try this simple experiment. Stare at a point for five seconds or longer. What happens? You will notice that the point becomes blurred, and finally disappears. Your eyes will also feel tired. Relaxation can reduce stress to the eyes. After a short rest, your vision will improve as the eyestrain reduces. To properly use our eyes, we need to observe the following principles:
Blink frequently. Staring is a source of eyestrain and can reduce our vision.
Move our eyes frequently and look from one point to another. See a particular point clearly, leaving other areas less clear. For instance, when looking at a chair, do not try to see the entire chair at once. First look at its back. Remember that our peripheral vision will quickly move from the back of the chair to its seat and then its legs. This method of gradually seeing the entire object is called focal point.
As we move our head and eyes throughout the day, imagine that the objects around us are moving in a direction opposite to that of our head and eyes. When we are in our room or walking in the streets, notice that the ground or the road seems to be heading towards us, and that the things on both sides appear to be moving away from us.
Dr Bates devise some exercises that will aid us in recovering our normal vision.
Close your eyes and cover them with your palms. Visualise the colour ‘black’ – only when you can ‘see’ black will your nervous system be completely relaxed. After reading or using the computer for twenty minutes, use this exercise to relax your eyes. Meir Schneider, a vision instructor who was blind at birth, suggests that people with poor vision perform this exercise for an hour every day. When doing this exercise, first relax your shoulders and back. Then, rub your palms together before cupping them over your eyes. Initially, there may be a sensation of tightness on the eyes. The stress on the eyes accumulated over the years can be released after much relaxation practices. Once this has been accomplished, your eyes will be able to see clearly.
Sunbathe your eyes, keeping them closed. Visualise the sunshine entering the body through the top of your head. Gently rotate your body from left to right. When turning right, use your right hand to massage your right eyebrow; when turning left, use your left hand to massage your left eyebrow. After sunbathing your eyes, use your palms to cover them. Alternate between the ‘sunbathing’ exercise and the ‘palming’ exercise. Sunshine in the morning and evening is ideal for the ‘sunbathing’ exercise.
Keep your body and eyes agile. Select a spot where you can observe a vast expanse of nature for this exercise. Stand in a relaxed manner and let the body’s centre of gravity move from left to right. Rotate the body from left to right and observe the objects before you move as you do this. Select a few focal points so that your visual focus shifts from near to far, and vice versa. When looking into the distance, stretch your hands and move them up, down, left and right of the natural expanse you are looking at. Look forward while at the same time moving and rotating either one or both hands. This exercise is designed to stimulate your peripheral vision. When performing this exercise, periodically blink and breathe deeply.
Improving our vision is no different from improving other aspects of our body – it requires a multifaceted approach. Eat natural food, breathe fresh air, drink clean water, and exercise appropriately. Relax and avoid squinting our eyes. Do not be overly bothered by being temporarily unable to see clearly. Most people see significant improvement in their vision within a month. During the recovery period, those wearing glasses should minimize wearing glasses as their vision improves. Over-powerful glasses strain the eyes. People find that their vision continuously deteriorates when they begin to wear glasses.
As we improve our vision, we also learn how to keep our body and mind healthy. We also become more confident that we can do something to improve our own health.