Improve Your Eyesight Through Vision Education – It Works!

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The Eye Palming technique is part of the Bates Method of vision improvement

Have you ever stopped to think what it would be like to (literally) see again through the eyes of a child? Most infants have a slight degree of hyperopia (farsightedness), but vision becomes more normal with age, usually leveling off by age 6. From that point onward, it seems nature intended we all have natural, clear vision.

The exception, of course, is the 1% of the population who, unfortunately, are born with defective eyesight. U.S. figures reveal that over 150 million Americans use corrective lenses to compensate for their refractive errors. They also spend over $15 billion each year on eyewear, and support an optical industry worth more than $30 billion. (National Eye Institute, 2000)

Poor vision is not only a big problem; it’s big business.

Refractive errors are the most frequent of eye problems. The most common ones include nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness, (hyperopia), astigmatism (uneven focus), and presbyopia (age-related problem with near focus). I can relate since I am myopic and amblyopic (lazy eye). I have worn glasses at an ever increasing minus prescription since I was 14. I always believed, as I was told by the optometrist, that the only treatment for the problem was eyeglasses. But was I ‘seeing’ the whole picture?

We can repair, improve and prevent damage to other parts of the body, so why not the eyes? Is there an alternative to eyeglasses, or ways to enhance the health of our eyes that could prevent or even reverse deterioration of our most precious sense?

According to Vision Educators like Elizabeth Abraham and Leo Angart, the answer is an emphatic, yes! In fact, both tell fascinating personal stories about how, after wearing prescription glasses for decades, they were able to see clearly without them after vision re-education.

Seemingly their experience (and evidently thousands like them) flies in the face of widely accepted orthodox ophthalmologic science, which is that refractive errors are fixed conditions, and the only way to see better and prevent sight from getting worse is to be fitted for corrective lenses. The problem is that eyeglasses don’t actually prevent your eyesight from worsening.

In the case of myopia, the opposite is true. As reported by the Optometric Extension Program Foundation in 1984, “minus lenses are the least likely to prevent further myopic progression, and actually they increase the near point stress that is associated with progression.” So while glasses work insofar as they help one to see, they are no substitute for natural clear vision. Rather than addressing the problem, glasses can mask the wide range of possible causes of poor vision.

Vision Educators believe that eyesight is a changeable, reparable process, not something locked in a fixed state of inefficiency. Elizabeth Abraham elaborates: “Healthy vision is relaxed, dynamic and alive, and eyes that stare and strain do not see as well as eyes that are relaxed and moving.”

The main premise of Vision Education is that in order to improve the visual system we need to “practice using our eyes the way nature intended, balancing between our two eyes, between near and far, and between central and peripheral.”

The Bates Method

The idea that vision could be improved naturally was discovered by American ophthalmologist, Dr. William Bates, in the early 1900’s. While examining patients, he began noticing that the vision of some would vary and that some would see better after not having worn their glasses. With further investigation, he found that patients would see better after resting their eyes.

Because much of what he discovered could not be explained in strictly physical terms, Bates began to examine alternative factors contributing to myopia and other vision problems. His research led him to believe that imperfect sight was often associated with mental strain. His experimental work resulted in a series of techniques which are now referred to as the Bates Method for vision improvement.

In order to help calm the mind, rest the eyes, and thereby counteract the mental strain he believed caused vision problems, Bates developed a technique known as Palming. This relaxation technique is best done seated with the elbows comfortably supported. From this position the eyes are closed and covered with the palms of the hands. The object of Palming is for the mind to be pleasantly engaged, and the eyes to be resting in darkness. The temporary exclusion of light, the mental visualization of a pleasant scene or activity, and the comfort of warm hands all help to relieve fatigue. When the eyes are uncovered there is usually a temporary improvement in the sight.

Relaxing is usually associated with being stationary, however this is not applicable to relaxed eyes. Our eyes are designed to be in almost constant movement (saccadic); shifting about 70 times per second for normal healthy eyes. In order to facilitate the natural vibratory movements of the eyes, and avoid the mental and physical strain caused by staring, Bates developed what he called Swinging.

There are two versions of the Bates’ Swing, short – where only the head moves; and the long swing – where the entire body is involved. For the long swing, stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart; face the front and do not move the head or the eyes throughout the exercise. Gently swing your entire body towards the left, lifting your right heel as you do so. Once you have turned 90 degrees, stop. You should notice that the room seems to be moving. When you move left, it appears to swing in the opposite direction.

Repeat to the right and continue swinging left and right for a minute or two. This type of movement relaxes your body, particularly the spine and the eyes, and it also teaches your eyes to work properly, enabling them to vibrate in a smooth and relaxed manner.

Here are some other techniques which have evolved from Bates’ work in vision improvement:

Visualization. If you practise seeing things with your mind’s eye and remember them in precise detail, you can increase your ability to see actual objects better.

Central Fixation. At the centre of the retina is a small indentation called the fovea. This is the area of the eye that gives us our clearest vision. Maintaining awareness of seeing best in the centre of our field of vision and avoiding trying to see the whole picture clearly (which creates strain) is the way nature intended our eyes to work.

Sunning. Close your eyes and let the sun shine onto your lids. Move your head side to side as if you are responding in the negative.

Practise with an eye chart. Begin by standing from 10 to 20 feet away, and read the smallest line that you can without straining. Then look at one of the letters on that line and close your eyes. Commit every detail of the letter in your mind’s eye. When you open your eyes, you will likely see not only that letter better, but also the one below it.

Seeing is Believing

I recently met with Elizabeth Abraham, Vision Educator. She has been involved with Vision Education since 1989, when she decided to learn how to improve her own eyesight and reduce her dependence on the contact lenses and glasses she had been wearing for over 30 years. She began her training with Meir Schneider (who was blind, and by using the Bates method and other holistic healing modalities, regained his sight) at the Center for Self-Healing in San Francisco.

She continues to expand her understanding of the visual system and has successfully helped scores of her students to move toward greater clarity. One such student, Frank N., says this about his vision education experience:

“When I started the classes my prescription was -4.75 in my right eye and -5.25 in my left, with astigmatism in both eyes. Two months later it was -3.00 and -3.25 with no astigmatism correction. Thank you for helping me to discover something wonderful about myself: my eyes are part of my body, flowing, dynamic, dancing organs. When I first came to see you I was just not connected with my eyes. By the end of the summer maybe I won’t need glasses at all. What an improvement! Yet it seems so natural, so nourishing.”

My own encounter with Vision Education was a delightful eye opener. Elizabeth taught me how to both Palm and Swing. Much to my surprise, I made some fascinating and significant discoveries. I learned that I could take off my glasses for a period of time and not feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. After Palming, I could definitely perceive colours more distinctly; both Elizabeth’s eyes and her sweater appeared as a much more vibrant shade of blue than I had initially ‘seen’.

Before practising the long Swing, I detected very little movement of my eyes when directed to gently place a finger on my closed lid. After a couple of minutes “Swinging”, there was a definite, continuous flutter. Obviously I was not ready nor prepared to throw away my glasses, but it was evident to me that clearer, relaxed vision without glasses (even if only initially for a few minutes) is possible.

Like Abraham, Leo Angart also got involved with Vision Education (or training as he prefers to call it) because after wearing glasses for nearsightedness for over 26 years, he wanted to explore ways to help improve his sight. He tried a number of healing techniques, but for him the final piece of the puzzle was Pranic Healing, which can help remove stagnant energy in the eyes and replace it with fresh energy.

Initially Angart performed the Pranic Healing process for his eyes every two hours for the first week. At the beginning he forced himself to “stumble to work without glasses, and to work without them until after lunch.” However, after a week of doing this he no longer needed his glasses and has not used them since 1991.

Angart’s method of vision training, or what he calls Tai Chi for the eyes, includes many of the techniques from the Bates Method. However, in his vision workshops, which he holds all over the world, Angart also incorporates belief work, energy work and visualization. He firmly believes that no one needs to wear any lenses or other corrective devices, and that his workshops will help people to learn “to relax and see the world as it really is.”

Angart is especially interested in helping children avoid having to wear corrective lenses. With that goal in mind he created Magic Eyes workshops for kids 12 and under. Here is one family’s experience with this program:

“The Magic Eyes Workshop opened a whole new world to our daughter Mirai and the rest of our family. Now we understand that vision is a fluid, evolving process, and we can shape it. Mirai does her exercises and is so proud of the progress she is making. She has gained confidence about her vision and about her own relationship with her body and her sight. This has been a great gift to her, and has opened all of our eyes to the power she has. Thank you.” (Neil Langley and Yoko Kiyozawa).

Educated Eyes

Most people accept that if they want to live longer and healthier they have to pay attention to their bodies by eating right, exercising, and avoiding habits which compromise good health. But when it comes to our eyes we seem to readily adopt a kind of helpless or fatalistic attitude. If the doctor says there is nothing to be done but wear corrective lenses or risk losing our vision, most of us assume that is the end of it. Yet Vision Educators have been proving otherwise, and their students have been seeing it with their own improved eyesight for over 85 years.

Our eyes, along with our nervous system and brain, allow us to see details close up, see clearly into the distance, adjust to sunlight and darkness and give us depth and peripheral vision as well as central focusing ability. For most of us these skills are learned naturally in childhood. But for millions, good vision starts to deteriorate at some point in their lives.

Vision Educators believe that more often than not the trigger for this is stress, and the condition is worsened by poor vision habits. In order to regain good natural vision we have to understand how our visual system functions and to re-establish good vision habits like “learning to relax, breathe and blink, and change focus near to far as you look with soft eyes.”

If you approach your vision problems with an open mind, find a qualified and empathetic Vision Education teacher, apply dedication, patience and persistence to re-learning and practising good vision habits, you just may find that you are more relaxed, have a better connection with the world around you, and best of all, have clearer natural sight.


  • Clear Seeing Naturally: vision improvement classes based in Toronto (416) 923-3893
  • Elizabeth Abraham, Vision Education Centre:
  • Dr. Jeffrey Anshel, DO. Smart Medicine for Your Eyes, Avery Publishing Group, New York, 1999.
  • Dr. William Bates, Perfect Sight Without Glasses, H. Holt and Company, New York, 1943.
  • Marc Grossman, OD, Swartwout, Glen, OD, Natural Eye Care Encyclopedia, Keats Publishing, Los Angeles, 1999.
  • Huxley, Aldous, The Art of Seeing, Creative Arts Book Company, Berkeley, California, 1982.
  • Kaplan, Robert-Michael, OD, The Power Behind Your Eyes, Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vermont, 1995.


Susannah Kent is a Toronto area Fitness and Healthy Lifestyle Instructor.

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