The Bates method was devised by eye-care physician W.H. Bates (1860-1931) who believed that spectacles actually caused harm to the eye and were not necessary.
Claiming that the need for eyeglasses can be reversed by relaxation, his techniques were considered radical at the time. Bates found that he could use his method to help with short sight, long sight, astigmatism, old-age sight, squint, ‘lazy’ eye, and even structural diseases such as macular degeneration.
Bates’ original method included a number of exercises – ‘palming’ which meant to close the eyes for a number of minutes and cover them with the palms of the hands; ‘visualisation’, imagining a specific image, often black, that was said to heighten relaxation; ‘movement’ or a series of eye exercises; and ‘sunning’ whereby a patient would expose their eyes to sunlight. Bates believed that exposure to sunlight was beneficial to the eyes, contrary to what is commonly understand in the present day. (Please don’t look directly at the sun!)
More recently, natural vision correction or improvement is practised by a number of teachers. The approach is based on the original Bates method but relies heavily on relaxation techniques, dietary requirements and a series of vision therapy techniques.