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"Better Eyesight Without Glasses": What Is the Bates Method?

How to improve your eyesight

How to improve your eyesight

Bates Cured His Own 'Stone-Hard Presbyopia'

In his 1920s book, Better Eyesight Without Glasses, Dr. Bates writes about his own eyesight condition and improvement. He had been told by various eye specialists that his lens was "as hard as a stone" and that "no one can do anything for you." Through studying his own case intensively, and finding a way to not strain his eyes when wanting to read, he regained an accommodative range of 14 inches. That is the ability to focus on objects between 4 and 18 inches from the eyes. With repeated practice, Bates was no longer suffering from presbyopic blur.

Dr. Bates went on to formulate a new set of theories about eyesight. He developed a series of eye exercises that later became known as "The Bates Method, Better Eyesight Without Glasses" to help people improve their sight.

According to Dr. Bates, poor eyesight is caused primarily by three things:

  • Stress or mental strain
  • Poor vision habits
  • Wearing glasses
Perhaps the innocence, sincerity and curiosity coming from children's eyes make eye contact with them one of the most pleasant experiences in life.

Perhaps the innocence, sincerity and curiosity coming from children's eyes make eye contact with them one of the most pleasant experiences in life.

Vision Improvement Exercises

For eyes to look good, they must also function well. Visual impairment can be treated with exercises. When you notice the first signs of eye weakness or imbalance (one eye stronger than the other), begin doing some of the following exercises, and you will never need to wear glasses. Are you already wearing glasses or contact lenses? Then wear them less frequently and try the exercises. You will soon find that your eyes will need a weaker correction lens. For the severely visually impaired, the exercises given here will be of great benefit. Even if the exercises may not cure the most severe visual handicaps, they will give improvement and help to delay or arrest further deterioration. For people who have no need for glasses, the exercises will ensure that it will stay that way. Let us begin with "palming."

What Is Palming?

Palming is excluding all light from your eyes to help them relax into a neutral, passive state. The idea is to cover your closed eyes with your hands without putting pressure on your eyeballs. Close the fingers and place them on your forehead, leaving the palms of your hands over each eye. Make sure no light gets through. Always begin and finish an eye exercise session with Palming.

You should do this for a few seconds or minutes while breathing quietly—you should see pure black. You will know when to stop; a deep inhale should make you feel exhilarated.

How does the eye work?

How does the eye work?

Balancing the Eyes

Sitting in a relaxed position, put your left hand on your closed left eye and just carry on reading. Notice if there is any difference between reading with one eye, the other eye, or both. Having a weaker eye is, as they say, perfectly normal. Perfectly normal does not mean it is all right. A weak eye is like a visual limp. It means your strong eye is overloaded with work while the weak eye, relying on its stronger brother, becomes lazy.

Having found out if one eye is weaker than the other, continue reading with your weak eye until it becomes tiresome. You may find that it will become easier after it gets worse. Eyes are living organisms that can change and improve with encouraging exercise. Are you still reading with your weak eye? If not, go back a few times. Practice reading with the weak eye for an increasing length of time on a daily basis. Improvement is often instant, as you will find out by working through the focusing exercises that follow.


There are two dots printed on the next line.

. _________________________________ .

Focus on the dot on the right while being aware that the other dot is there,
but appears blurred.

Now reverse: look at the left dot with the right one unsharpened, out of focus. Repeat, changing your focus from one dot to the other while doing it faster and faster. The quicker the eyes are able to change focus, the sharper they will be. Now, try the same thing with the dots closer together:


And closer still:

. _____ .

This simple focusing exercise can be done anywhere, at any time, with any
two or more focal spots. Experiment with spots on posters on the bus or the underground, or on two moving leaves on a tree. With a little imagination, any background can serve as a focal exercise field. You can play around by changing the distance between your focal spots.

Text Focusing: Reading

Try reading the following sentences printed here in different point sizes.

How to train your eyes to read without reading glasses

How to train your eyes to read without reading glasses

Experimenting Is Fun and Rewarding

Experiment with reading the above lines with both eyes together, then with one eye at a time. Find out at which point size, if any, your eyes become weak. Read the difficult line again with the strong eye. Memorize not the content of the sentence but the shapes of the letters as you are reading with the better eye. Now, try reading the same sentence with the bad eye again. The memory obtained of the image with the strong eye will help the weak eye decipher the blur. You may not believe your own eye, but the weak eye learns to focus as sharply as the strong eye in this way.

When you get to a line that is not readable even with the strong eye, get a magnifying glass and look at the shape of the letters. Put the magnifying glass away and recall the meaning of the words to help you memorize and visualize the shapes of the letters. Now, try reading the line again without the magnifying glass. The shapes of the letters in very small type will emerge. Repeat this until you get results, but only to a level of acceptable tolerance. As soon as you feel your eyes getting tired, cover them with the palm of your hands and relax to complete the exercise. Now, what about exploring the depth of focus your eyes are capable of?

Depth Focus: Zoom

Standing by the window, choose a spot or mark on the window pane and focus on it. Now, without moving your eyes, find a focal point far away through the glass directly behind that mark. Look for some distant object like a tree or a chimney or something on the horizon far away outside the window but aligned directly behind the spot on the window pane.

As in the previous exercises, the object here is to focus alternately between two chosen spots:

  1. A close-up spot
  2. A distant spot located in the same area of your vision

Like the zoom feature of a camera, tiny eye muscles are now working to make you focus alternatively between a close-up spot and a distant one to check the depth of your vision.

Here Is a Tip

Once you have established which eye is weaker, you can work on that weak eye without spending any extra time. While you are at home alone or with your family, cover up the strong eye with a pad and carry on with your normal, day-to-day activities. Covering up the strong eye will train the weaker eye to catch up a bit and give the overworked eye a good rest. Of course, when visitors arrive, make sure you take the pad off, or they'll wonder what’s wrong with you.

Treat Your Self

Those who spend many hours at the computer need to find a way to destress their eyes. With all this new information and the practice exercises, you deserve a treat. A good eye, head, and temple massage can help you relax the eyes and the whole body. It gives great relief and helps to meditate all your worries away.

For more information and the full set of Bates eye exercises, you can order the original book Better Eyesight Without Glasses which I have been using for many years to keep my vision in good standing. It is well worth getting the book to learn many more exercises which are fun to practice almost anywhere, anytime.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


NGOZIKA OBIATUEGWU on January 12, 2020:

Thanks for this lovely article

iblindness on June 16, 2016:

Thanks for your article on the Bates method! The more info is shared like this the better. The method does work, especially if you get really in depth with it and start to work with all the subtleties of how we use our eyes.

Jacobb9205 on April 06, 2015:

Will do! Thank you again!

Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on April 06, 2015:

Hi Jacob,

Yes, bookmark this page so you can come back and keep doing the eye exercises until you know them by heart. You will see how well they work after a very short time.

Jacobb9205 on April 05, 2015:

Thank you for these exercises I will try some of them as soon as I can

debbieanderson12 on December 01, 2014:

I think best way to cure eyes is to do some eye exercises.

Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on September 14, 2014:

Voted useful and awesome ! :). Thank you for sharing

Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on August 13, 2014:

Hi vibha,

Close one eye and look at something. How well do you see the object? Now close the other eye and look again. The eye you see less well with, i.e. the picture is less clear, perhaps a little blurred, that is your weaker eye. Not everyone has one eye weaker than the other but most people have.

vibha on August 13, 2014:

weak eye means exactly what? one focusses a fraction of a second later or which is red or very white or swollen or what?

Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on July 10, 2014:

OK Jasmann, I'll try.

The glass in a window is see-through/transparent, right? The idea is to alternatively focus on a point actually on the glass, like a dirt spot or something, and then to find an object far-away through the glass at roughly the same place in your visual field. The only difference between the two focal points being their depth, the distance from your eye.

As to which eye is weak, that depends on every individual. Some people, like yourself perhaps, may not have one eye weaker than the other.

I hope this helps, thanks for the read,


Jasmann on July 10, 2014:

I did't understand the last exercise the window one could u explain it briefly .thanks

Jasmann Singh on July 10, 2014:

Hi Sue I liked ur exercise but i am still not. Able to understand that which eye is weak ,left or right is their any ither way?

Sylvia Jones on September 13, 2013:

Dear Sue

When i got glasses for myopia, i abandoned them after around a year because i didn't like wearing them. But my power went up from 1.25 to 2.75 in just 8 months. I don't want that to happen again. So can you please give me some more details about how you managed to bring down your power? Can you please also say how long it took you?

Edward111 on August 19, 2012:

Wow! I tried the focusing exercises and found instant improvement just after doing it a few times. This is really amazing. But then if you think about it... You can exercise almost any other part of your body so why not the eyes as well. It just never occurred to me that this was possible. Great stuff Sue, and thanks.

Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on June 30, 2012:

Hi Jools,

Yes, go for it. I do the exercises regularly and it has helped me a lot. I went down from a number 3 reading glasses to 1 1/2. Hopefully soon I won't need them at all .

Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on June 30, 2012:

Hi Jools,

Yes, go for it. I do the exercises regularly and it has helped me a lot. I went down from a number 3 reading glasses to 1 1/2. Hopefully soon I won't need them at all .

Jools Hogg from North-East UK on June 30, 2012:

What a great hub; I am long sighted so I need glasses for reading and the computer but I would love to not wear them if I could. I am going to try some of these exercises to see if I can manage to retrain my eyes.

Voted up.

htodd from United States on May 20, 2012:

Awesome hub..Thanks a lot for the nice exercise

Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on May 20, 2012:

Thanks kerlynb

Like all of us who have tried the Bates method, you are proof in the pudding that it really works. The trick, however, is to keep doing the exercises as a part of daily routine for ever.

kerlynb from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^ on May 20, 2012:

I have a slight problem with my vision. It is still clear but definitely not 20/20 :( I do not wear eyeglasses though. I heard about this Bates method a year ago when my work started becoming really centered on using computers and I must say it has helped. Every 30 minutes or so, I do palming. I also do focusing and once in a while I do try to look at one moving object, like my finger, as it goes from left to right. Doing these things have helped improve my visual focus. Voting your hub up and useful as it is!

Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on May 07, 2012:

Good for you Nana, You'll find it's great fun to experiment in training your body to improve its performance.

Good luck with your exercises. You may find more of them on YouTube. If not, get the book, it's worth it if you are serious about improving your own eyesight.

ThussaysNanaMarie from In my oyster on May 07, 2012:

Wow! I just read this with amazement. I'd never heard of Dr Bates and I'm fascinated.

Once again I've been led. I have just had my eyes tested and about to request glasses. I will try the exercise for a while and ask for another test.

Thanks for sharing this information.

Lauryallan on April 13, 2012:

Hey Sue this hub is great!

My family have a history with bad eyesight. Both of my brothers have one significantly weaker eye and had eye patches growing up, which was to do these type of exercises. One wore the patch while the other took tantrums and refused. The one that refused never improved while the one that wore it has great vision in both eyes.

I always thought I had missed the bad eyesight gene but it turns out it got me too. I found out when I went to uni that one of my eyes is long sighted while the other is shortsighted. The Optician thinks this has happened because my right eye is weaker and my left has been compensating for it.

Kinda a pain when your eyes keep flickering between what's right in front of them and what's 20 feet away. Glasses don't help because my eyes just try to focus round the lenses. I think I will try your exercises and see if I can give my left eye a break, beef up my right eye and hope the focusing issues improve.

Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on November 07, 2011:

Good for you Charmaine, I glad you are going to improve your eyesight without cumbersome glasses. You'll soon feel great improvement.

Charmaine on November 06, 2011:


This is so interesting. I am going to try the focusing exercises straight away and let you know how I got on.

Thanks for very useful hub.

Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on September 06, 2011:

Yes, kk after a few weeks my weak eye caught up with my strong eye. But I still keep doing the exercises on an irregular basis when I notice that my eyes weaken again.

kk on September 06, 2011:

Hi,what was the result of your eye patch exercises ?

Did your eyesight improve ?

Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on September 04, 2011:

Hi Richard, thanks for dropping by

RichardCMckeown on August 31, 2011:

Lots of information.

Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on July 14, 2011:

Hello MizzLizz,

Your case proves once again that listening to dogma is a waste of time. You are right in listening to your own body signals. If you want to make good progress I suggest you get Bates's book for the full set of exercises. Good luck with it and don't give up.

MizzLizz on July 14, 2011:

I remember in middle school, the school nurse insisted I wear glasses even when I tried to explain that I heard on the radio that corrective lenses make eyesight worse. I have been wearing glasses on and off since I was 14 and my eyesight really hasn't gotten any better. In fact, it's gotten worse :( I use to get really bad headaches and my eyes would be really sore, that was after I got my first pair of glasses. Even my dad insisted that my eyes were hurting because I WASN'T wearing my glasses. I will definitely do these exercises. I'm getting sick of overworking my eyes with glasses. Thank you for making these exercises available for anyone to use :)

Sun-Girl from Nigeria on June 24, 2011:


Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on June 17, 2011:

Well Vauban, get on with it then. From what I can see at the moment your blog hasn't been born yet. Why don't you use the domain name to create a blog. Free and easy. Or if you want to make it commercial, so it can carry google AdSense adverts, go to

Good luck,


Vauban from Dublin on June 17, 2011:

Good hub, Sue, you've set a high standard for me to aim at on my blog at

Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on June 11, 2011:

You are welcome Temirah. Have fun doing the Bates exercises. You can do them almost anywhere, anytime.

Temirah on June 11, 2011:

This is fascinating and I'm definitely going to try these. My site is getting gradually worse as I get older which just reminds me that I'm getting older (I don't need that - I'm only 42!) so anything that helps is fine with me! Thank you!

Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on May 31, 2011:

Well Suejanet, I'm so glad to have introduced you to some useful information which you might want to pass on to your friends and family.

suejanet on May 31, 2011:

I have never heard of this before and find it very interesting.

Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on May 26, 2011:

Hi puddingicecream thanks for dropping by. Good idea, relax and exercises your eyes to prevent future problems.

puddingicecream from United States on May 25, 2011:

very helpful! i'm going to try out some of these and hopefully relax my eyes more

Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on March 23, 2011:

You are welcome Gigi. I am sure that if you persevere with the exercises on an ongoing basis, and maybe buy Bates' book for more, your eyesight will improve. Mine did. You just gave to make it a part of your daily habits.

Gigi Thibodeau on March 23, 2011:

Wow, what a helpful hub! I have had severe eyesight problems all my life and have been wearing glasses or contacts since I was six years old. I will try these exercises. It would be wonderful to keep my eyesight from getting any worse than it already is! Thanks for the great information.

Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on February 25, 2011:

You are welcome Logic.

logic,commonsense on February 25, 2011:

Thanks for sharing! Valuable information!

Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on January 06, 2011:

Hey I just discovered something:

When I work at the computer my right eye is weaker. But when I read small print (at closer range) my left eye is weaker. The computer screen is at about 50cm while the book only 25cm away from my eyes. So that means I would need two different pairs of glasses for the above actions. How cumbersome and expensive!

I prefer to try and train my eyes by closing / patching the right eye while computing and the left while reading small print.

Interesting isn't it? I will keep you posted on improvement.

Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on January 04, 2011:

He sure was onto something very important Enlydia.

Enlydia Listener from trailer in the country on January 03, 2011:

great article...I have heard of Bates and think he was on to something.

Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on January 03, 2011:

Bonjour Princesse. A doctor once put my the 4 year old daughter through a routine hearing test with a sofisticated machine and said that she was hard of hearing. I knew this to be incorrect as we had never noticed any signs of it ourselves. So I ignored what the doctor said and my daughter is fine. She has never had any problems with her hearing. Just goes to show, sometimes doctors just like to try out new gadgets it seems. Sometimes I think that doctors have some ulterior motives for bringing bad news. After all, bad news from a doctor boosts the medical industry.

It would be wonderful if you could save your son from having to wear glasses. Give him adequate lighting when he practices the exercises. It's amazing how much good light plays a role in good vision.

Wendy Iturrizaga from France on January 03, 2011:

I tried some of the exercises while reading, very interesting. I will use them for my little boy too as he has been prescribed glasses a few weeks ago.


ssaul on January 03, 2011:

hey thanks for this, its just fantastic!

Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on January 03, 2011:

Thanks for dropping by Cagsil and Happyboomernurse. Good idea to bookmark this Hub so you can do the exercises when you need to. And good luck with them.

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on January 02, 2011:

Great hub. I'm bookmarking it as I need to do some of these exercises. Thanks for sharing this valuable information. It's something that the medical community does not give out and it wasn't taught in nursing school.

Raymond D Choiniere from USA on January 02, 2011:

Hey Sue, that was fantastic. Really cool hub. :) I do not have an issue, at least that is what the doctor who last saw me said- my vision was 20/15. He said it wasn't a problem. I don't wear glasses. I once was told that I needed glasses by a doctor. However, it turns out it wasn't really the case. Thumbs up! :) I've bookmarked it so I can share it. Thank you. :)