On Natural Vision Improvement - Bates Method, and a few others (thoughts?)


Senior Member.
I am not sure if this quite belongs in the quackery section, though it does fall neatly into the alternative therapy category, and is something I am seriously hoping to get some skeptical opinion on. To be honest, the act of improving one's own vision naturally is something I am not entirely too keen on having debunked. I myself suffer from myopia/nearsightedness, where I cannot quite see things at a distance clearly. It is not bad enough to invalidate my aviation medical (thank god, but I wear glasses), but it is a condition that I had always hoped to improve without the more blunt and expensive methods like Lasik surgery. That said, there are a lot of information out there on methods such as "The Bates Method" or "Plus Lense Therapy" that make strong claims where one can completely discard their glasses and see clearly at 20/20.

Has anyone encountered these methods before?

There are sites a plenty out there that try to profit from such methods all with the promise of perfect vision. There are books, videos, and other resources like pinhole glasses that are available.

The most popular method seems to be the Bates Method. It was a method proposed in 1891, and a lot of the niche areas of the Internet and bookstores seem to refer to that method. Modern day scams and adaptations seems to cite the Bates method as well. Upon closer examination, the method doesn't seem harmful (mostly about seeing properly and relaxing the eyes), so I tried learning it myself. I don't see much results, personally, so this leads me to believe that either I haven't mastered the method, certain aspects of my life are incompatible, or in fact, the method just doesn't actually work.

I did encounter some free forums out there where there are people claiming that they have, in fact, restored their vision using the Bates Method or other techniques--and given that it's free, I am sure there are honest folk out there who believe in the system. Sites like iblindness.org contains some members who claim that such methods worked for them.

So when it comes down to it, I am just curious what some of you think about these methods. Are they all rubbish? Do some carry merit? Is there hope? ;)

Mick West

Staff member
I'm similarly interested. I have good eyesight still, not glasses at 45. But I'm rather suspicious of such things. It seems largely anecdotal, and you'll always find someone who improves. What's the actual success rate?

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
What's the actual method?
Are eye exercises (looking up down right left etc) of any benefit to eye condition?


Senior Member.
Yeah, the actual success rate, I imagine, isn't all that high. It depends on who you ask, and given that these methods are not really that heard of outside a little googling, that calls for a little bit of skepticism. I've read through the wikipedia article on The Bates Method several times, and it does brings forth some interesting criticisms. The Bates Method, along with many offshoot methods out there, seems to hinge on the theory that many eye problems, such as nearsightedness, is caused by eye strain, and by relieving that eye strain, these eye problems would be rectified.

It seems pretty straight forward except for the execution. Being a sufferer of nearsightedness myself, I can to an extend connect some correlation between eyestrain and vision problems. My nearsightedness actually developed only about six years ago, and prior to that time, I enjoyed perfect vision. Nowadays, in addition to blurriness without glasses, I do many times a day experience some 'tension' (best way I can describe it) either around my eyes or inside it. It's the same feeling I get when I used to read for three hours a day straight before my vision deteriorated (to an extent, I believe my vision problems may have been attributed to this). In any case, going off strain alone, it is probably for the best that such strain be removed. It is also in this respect that generally speaking, even if the Bates method doesn't work, it is at least, for the most part, safe.

Where Bates and the professionals differ, from what I understand in the wikipedia article and various other sources, is the mechanics in which vision problems occur. Proponents of the Bates Method, and perhaps Bates himself, tended to blame the external eye muscles for distorting the shape of the eyeball. In a way, this kind of makes sense for most cases. Just looking up wikipedia on myopia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myopia), the most common type of myopia is axial myopia, where the eyeball is too long. Just thinking about this for a moment, if we squeeze say a rubber ball from the outside around it's circumference, it would change to a longer shape. It may not actually be how the eyeball works in practice, but this theory may warrant a second look. Whether relaxing those external muscles would allow the eyeball to return to the proper shape is another matter.

@Pete Tar,

Well, I hear a lot of 'eye-exercises' based on eye movements such as those you described there. I've look into various methods a lot, since I do desire my old 20/20 back. To be fair, some people who proposes that vision improvement can be attainable differ in various methodologies. The Bates method tends to focus more on eye relaxation that 'exercises,' per say, though it does come with it exercises that promotes what he claims to be the proper way of seeing. There are methods like wearing reading glasses, which forces a blurred visual environment to almost push the eyes to adapt to adverse environments (kind of like lifting weights I'd imagine). Then of course, there are actual eye exercises itself like moving eyeball physically to their extremities.

I'm not sure what to make of all this. Some folks claim that this work. One such case is a man called Meir Schneider, who seems genuine enough in his videos. Apparently, he was born legally blind (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJS2LTsQde4).

I also found this site a few years back of a system developed by, supposedly, a pilot (http://www.rebuildyourvision.com/). The website always looked suspiciously like a scam site, though the guy's story about aviation does seem somewhat believable. I found a pdf of his book some time ago, and it seemed to be the Bates Method with a few exercises attached.

Then there are the methods that are freely available and discussed about in forums like the one I posted at the top. I don't post there much, but there are at least a few members there who claim to have improved their vision to 20/20. Interestingly enough, they offer their insights for free, so they have no monetary motive to even create a site on vision improvement in the first place. So, this leads me to wonder: perhaps there is some merit? Are these just isolated cases that can be explained by something else? Is there any placebo effect taking place?

Mick West

Staff member
I also found this site a few years back of a system developed by, supposedly, a pilot (http://www.rebuildyourvision.com/). The website always looked suspiciously like a scam site, though the guy's story about aviation does seem somewhat believable. I found a pdf of his book some time ago, and it seemed to be the Bates Method with a few exercises attached.

Looks exactly like a scam site. I'd really like it to be true, but I don't really see any good evidence to back it up. All snake oil sales are based on testimonials, and you can always find someone to give a testimonial.


You answered your own question. You went to one of 100,000s of sites with evidence that it helped some people. So is your real motivation to invalidate all their stories so you can justify your own inadequate vision?

I used to have complete dependency on glasses but now can use my eyes normally. I used to think glasses were normal and bad eyesight is a genetic thing. The fact is glasses have been proven in case studies to be the worst 'solution' for bad eyesight as they make myopia progress faster than it would normall have done. Case studies involving identical twins are exceptionally insightful.

Question from Mick 'What is its success rate?'

Thats like asking what is the success rate for people trying to seek benefit from yoga. Or the success rate of people who used relaxation to relax. Does it matter if its not 100%? And since when does everyone around the word take notes of everything in their lives in order to fulfil some kind of international database of facts? That is impossible and will never exist.

Question from Pete Tar: 'Is looking up, down, left right, any benefit to eye condition?'

Well its like asking someone who is a sprinter does running benefit them. If he doesn't run, he will be out of practice and not in as good shape. If he avoids walking all day, he will deteriorate further and lose muscle and various other things. If he stays in bed all day...eventually he will find his muscles are weakened so much he cant do anything and would need assistance to get out of bed.

So in answer to your question. It depends if you can already do something. Then youre already doing it and just repeating it then it has no significance. If your eye muscles are out of action or lack flexibility it can be a useful first step in correcting the problem. Over facilited/inflexible muscles will impair the eyes movements. And flexibility in vital for the function of the eyes and eyesight quality.

'I think wikipedia tells you all you need to know'.

The problem is that the optical industry is the worst of all the supposed 'health industries'. At least some drug companies can point at some cures or vaccines to validate their existence. The glasses business however has never been proved to have CURED any eyesight condition out there. All they down is attempt to hide symptoms from the attention of the wearer.

If its exposed that poor eyesight is an unnecessary, unnatural and easily preventable thing then obviously all the eyeglass stores in your local street, mall etc would have to close down. And these folk who sell glasses are immensely proud of their job, their education and their respected positions. Being seen as scammers, time-wasters, unethical or even snake-oil salesmen will not be their interest and threatens their livelihoods. So they use every trick in the book to disprove anything against their interest.

We had examples of bad practices before. Tobacco companies, drugs, mercury fillings, genetically modified foods etc. Youre naive to assume that this kind of scenario is now in the past now. When there is ill health, naive people and people who want to make money you will get dodgy things going on

Statement from Mick: 'Looks exactly like a scam site. I'd really like it to be true, but I don't really see any good evidence to back it up. All snake oil sales are based on testimonials, and you can always find someone to give a testimonial.'

Are all testimonials an indicator of a scam website? Well sure some testimonials can be fake. But im sure youve left a testimonial/review on amazon or ebay yourself so you know not all of them are fake. Also if a site never actually GUARANTEED something, sells exactly what they stated they would sell and have a 30 day money back guarantee why be so hostile towards that particular website?

Sure you cannot prove any of it works or the testimonials are real. But since you dont know anyone on the internet personally why would you say that particular site is a problem for you? Also has either you or anyone on this site 'metabunk' tried that website to see if it works or not? Well apparently not. So youre very good at debunking now. Debunking is just something you do if you see a photo you dont like. Very useful approach (sarcasm)


Active Member
bad eyesight comes from lens shape, not poor muscle control. i dont get how you are sposed to work out your lenses.....


Active Member
bad eyesight comes from lens shape, not poor muscle control. i dont get how you are sposed to work out your lenses.....

From Wikipedia:

Commenting on this hypothesis in an interview with WebMD, ophthalmologist Richard E. Bensinger stated "When we put drops in the eye to dilate the pupil, they paralyze the focusing muscles. The evidence of the anatomical fallacy is that you can't focus, but your eye can move up and down, left and right. The notion that external muscles affect focusing is totally wrong."[3] Science author John Grant writes that many animals, such as fishes, accommodate by elongation of the eyeball, "it's just that humans aren't one of those animals.


Senior Member.
Sorry I haven't been following the thread much.


My original purpose was to get some varying opinions, and not to invalidate anything. I'm not trying to justify my inadequate vision. In fact, I would like to improve it if I could. It's a pain in the arse to have a set of lenses over my face whenever I drive, fly, or do work. My real motivation was to see some differing opinions. This, being a skeptics site where people are out there to challenge claims and bunk, seemed like a good place to pose a question. I've read some forums out there which advocate the Bates method, and at the end of the day, I'm left with no new information, and that these alternative methods work for some people, and that there are still lots of people who haven't made it. So, I needed something new, to see more of what it's about, whether it's even something to invest time into, and to assess plausibility and possibilities.


New Member
People who are nearsighted dont have nice round eyes their eyes are oval so they focus ahead of the retina instead of on the retina, unless these "methods" can reshape the eye or the lens I dont think they can work. I have just started trying "the bates method", I will do I for fun, Im really nearsighted so I dont expect significant improvement.


Senior Member.
When I was first diagnosed as near sighted, it was mentioned that as I aged, it might get better. The normal aging in the eye that makes most folks need reading glasses is helping to correct my near sightedness. I am 62 and I don't need reading glasses. I can work with size 15 seed beads (15 of them sitting next to each other is an inch) without any magnification. I cannot easily focus from one distance to another. I cannot read a price tag with my glasses on. I really need bifocals with clear glass in the bottom.


Senior Member.
Bit late to this one, but thought I'd point out that I tried the Bates method back when I was a teenager, during a school holidays period when I could forgo wearing my glasses from wake-up to bedtime (as is my usual requirement to function in the world).

Gave it a good couple of weeks, doing all the exercises and whatnot. It made no difference at all.

The book did say that it might take several months to see significant improvment, but given I can't see more than five feet in front of my face without some sort of corrective lenses, that wasn't going to happen (driving, school, sport, etc.)


Active Member
I never heard of any such methods before. Interesting to learn of them now. I just went for the quicker solution, not the quickest to heal 100% but better than lasik...I had PRK done in October last year...man, why did I not do it long before that?

Of note, lasik may adversely affect your flight medical. I was given the option of PRK only, as flap dislocation is a issue with lasik for those of us who do activities that involve sudden impacts daily compared to the more sedimentary jobs and hobbies.


Preventing myopia (in children) may be easier than curing it. Despite the NIH claim that reading doesn't cause nearsightedness,
There is no way to prevent nearsightedness. Reading and watching television do not cause nearsightedness.
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there is overwhelming evidence that the amount of reading and near work at a young age is linked to myopia rates. Studies in china showed 3% prevalence in peasants versus 80% in students; in orthodox jewish families boys have much higher myopia rates than girls, and the main difference in daily activities is the intensive study of the Talmud starting at 8 to 10 years of age, to which the girls are excluded.

The NHS view differs from the NIH:
There appears to be some truth to the ‘old wives’ tale’ that too much reading in bad light is bad for your eyes.

There certainly seems to be some connection between children or young adults who spend a lot of time doing ‘close work’, such as reading, writing and computer work, and an increased risk of developing short-sightedness.

One study found that children who read for 30 minutes or more per day were 1½ times more likely to develop short-sightedness than children who didn’t.
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For adult-onset and adult-progression of myopia, the structural cause seems to be elongation of the vitreous chamber (at least in a group of microscopists). (source)
For juvenile-onset myopia, the evidence is mixed, but a trend was seen towards a shorter radius of curvature. Whether anything could slow the elongation of the eye with age? I haven't seen any studies on that.

Recently, some studies and publications have emphasised the positive effects of outdoor activity and sports while minimizing or dismissing the negative effects of reading, computer games and other indoor activity.
Hours per week spent in outdoor/sports activities were significantly fewer for children who became myopic 3 years before onset through 4 years after onset by 1.1 to 1.8 hours per week. Studying and TV watching were not significantly different before myopia onset.
Before myopia onset, near work activities of future myopic children did not differ from those of emmetropes. Those who became myopic had fewer outdoor/sports activity hours than the emmetropes before, at, and after myopia onset. Myopia onset may influence children's near work behavior, but the lack of difference before onset argues against a major causative role for near work. Less outdoor/sports activity before myopia onset may exert a stronger influence on development than near work.
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Could sunlight be just such an environmental factor?
Kathryn Rose, a visual disorder researcher, thinks so. First, she points to the weak or inconsistent epidemiology that attempts to link time spent on the computer, watching television, reading, and studying to the development of myopia, instead suggesting that the real problem is lack of sunlight. In cases where digital media usage or inside work appears to be associated with myopia, Rose thinks it’s actually a measure of displaced outdoor time.

Then she points toward the epidemiology exploring the link between time spent outdoors and myopia prevention, which is much stronger.
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The sunlight study has received much attention in the media (CNN, NY Times, ABC, BBC), but if time spent on the computer, reading, watching TV, and other activities can't be linked to increased rates of myopia while lack of time spent outdoor can, then what do those researchers assume those kids were doing indoors?? Seems to me that splitting up the indoor activity into different categories would hide the statistical evidence, because comparing kids that read a lot with kids that spend most of their times on a computer would find no difference and suggest that neither activity has any effect.
As for the sunlight effect, why don't we see more myopia in regions close to the north pole?
Did you see any interesting differences based on countries or regions? For example, in Scandinavia where you have less light year-round do you find kids with higher rates of myopia?
Rose: The differences between countries seem to relate to high levels of myopia in highly urbanized, academically focused countries with an emphasis on early competitive education systems versus low levels in less urbanized and/or countries with more emphasis on learning through play at an early age.

Scandinavian countries seem no more myopic or otherwise than other more southern European countries. In part this may be lifestyle as people with limited sunlight during winter seem to get outside for long hours during the summer which may balance the short available sunlight hours in the winter. However, there is some limited evidence that in these countries, the rate of eye growth advances more in winter and slows in the summer.
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I can't help wonder if some wishful thinking is involved, because sports and outdoors activities are considered good for us, but we don't want to label reading as bad, do we? She seems to ignore the fact that outdoor activity requires focusing on distant objects much more than indoor activity. Not saying the theory is wrong, but the evidence can be interpreted in several ways.

The sunlight hypothesis could be interpreted by some as providing support for the Bates method, let's hope people don't go staring at the sun as he advised.

Edit: I failed to mention one theory: that eye development is influenced by the sharpness of the images it receives: eye growth (and eye length) was increased greatly when chicks were fitted with diffusing lenses. Similar but smaller effect was seen when they were fitted with light reducing lenses (bigger pupils due to lower light reduce depth of focus). Maybe juvenile-onset myopia is simply a matter of a feedback mechanism highly effective at correcting during growth any focal length errors we were born with, still doing its job based on the input it receives.
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New Member
The most popular method seems to be the Bates Method. It was a method proposed in 1891

Proposed in 1891 and people still don't use it. If it worked I have this strange feeling that after 100+ years everyone with eye trouble would use it.

Compare that with Lasik eye surgery. Patented in 1989 and now used on thousands of people per month to fix eye problems.


New Member
I'm not sure it's possible to get rid of actual myopia but you sure can get rid of pseudomyopia before it becomes actual myopia. pseudomyopia is caused by a lot of close-up work. It is when your ciliary muscle is so tired and can't thin down your lens(like it's a little difficult to stretch your leg after squeezing it for a while). in my case, pseudomyopia usually goes away in a day if I take rest. at worst, 3 days.

I have read about many people who have successfully reduced up to -1.0 in a year using bates, print pushing, active focus or whatever method that relaxes eyes. What if they were just having pseudomyopia? possible, right?

ophthalmologists use cycloplegic eye drops to get actual myopia. Just compare your eye exam results of before and after using cycloplegic eye drops. You will know how much diopter you can definitely reduce. consult an actual ophthalmologist if it's ok for you before using cycloplegic eye drops. It has side effects!

Let me be clear that I'm not saying it's impossible to get rid of actual myopia. I simply don't know because I'm still testing if myself at the moment. But hey, trust me on pseudomyopia, you sure can get rid of it.

Alan Steffens

New Member
I have personal experience in this. The ciliary muscle that allows your eyes to focus can be exercised like any other muscle, and can improve vision. Years ago both my brother and I did quite a bit of experimentation with eye focusing exercises to improve our vision. (Un-scientific of course).
The problem with eye muscle exercises, even if they could improve vision, is that the amount of time required to do the exercises, combined with the muscle soreness that can be the result of any muscle exercise, is not something that anyone would be willing to endure. Especially when the alternative is cheap eyeglasses, why would you spend hours a day doing focusing exercises, enduring headaches, for a negligible improvement in vision?


I think the modern understanding and the original idea behind the Bates Method are relevant but a little misconstrued. Basically from my understanding, it's not that "not" wearing glasses makes your eye sight better, it's that sometimes wearing glasses doesn't do your eyes any favours.

Me personally my eye sight is just below perfect, can be improved slightly with the use of "eye strain" glasses, but aren't required. However, if I wore a prescription that was a little too strong for me, that would cause greater strain on the eyes and while they would adjust and my eye sight would appear to improve with the glasses, it would actually start to deteriorate, and I'd find that over time I'd need stronger and stronger prescriptions. So the modern understanding of the Bates Method to my understanding as told by eye care professionals, is that had I not wore the incorrect glasses my eye sight would have improved, this is why I'm told not to wear the glasses all the time.

But I think back in the day when lense technology wasn't as advanced as it is today, there was probably some factor of truth in the idea behind the Bates Method.