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Relearning to See: Improve Your Eyesight -- Naturally!

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In this accessible presentation of the famous Bates method, Thomas R. Quackenbush (who teaches the Bates method in California and Oregon) describes how eyesight can improve naturally, at any age and regardless of heredity. This book is a wonderful tribute to the genius of Dr. Bates, who was a pioneer in discovering how vision becomes blurred and how it restores itself naturally to clarity and acuity. Now 80 years later, his findings and teachings remain light years ahead of our contemporaries. His approach to treating vision problems was truly holistic and the theme throughout this book is very much an extension of that holistic approach. Dr. Quackenbush is to be commended for his dedication in getting the truth out and keeping the torch burning in this "bible" on vision improvement.

552 pages, Paperback

First published April 25, 1996

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Thomas R. Quackenbush

3 books5 followers

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5 stars
41 (31%)
4 stars
36 (27%)
3 stars
34 (26%)
2 stars
10 (7%)
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8 (6%)
Displaying 1 - 17 of 17 reviews
Profile Image for Jess Scott.
Author 108 books334 followers
July 6, 2010
=====[ORIGINAL REVIEW written on December 12, 2008:]=====

In one of the reviews in the first two pages of the book, someone comments that the book could really be titled "Relearning to Live". I heartily agree. A lot of the 5-star reviews say it as it is.

Compared to the hundreds of dollars I've spent on eyeglasses, eighteen dollars to read about improving eyesight (to the point where eyeglasses aren't needed--truly!), seems to be a bit of a paradox. I was a bit skeptical at first, but the will to improve my eyesight by natural means, was stronger than doubt. I believe this is an important step, as one has to assume responsibility for their own health and well-being (as quoted by a holistic health practitioner, somewhere in the book).

This book may very well be the best eighteen dollars I've invested in. It is of incredibly high standard and quality. To say the least, Mr. Quackenbush has a thorough, comprehensive, and extensive understanding of Bates' method and vision.

I started out at -7.25 (with -0.25 astigmatism--which I never believed I needed); currently I'm about -5.50 (no astigmatism). My -7.25s were getting fuzzy around Feb 2008. Yesterday, I tried on my original -7.25s, and I've better than perfect eyesight with them. This would be a total impossibility, had I not gotten this book.

Many optometrists have a negative view of Bates' teaching. Why, of course. If everyone had good eyesight, a whole bunch of optometrists would go out of business overnight.

For me, the first few days were a bit trippy. Headaches, etc. I will not forget the day my vision "sharpened" with a -6.00 pair. I was walking around in a store and it just happened.

"Don't stare, don't strain", are two golden rules to remember. The reading material will help you remember and put those (and other) good eye habits into practice. Yes, it takes dedication. Yes, lasik is "fast". Read the book and you'll see the price you pay for permanently tampering with (i.e: cutting) your corneas.

Personally, I do not intend to let Bates' (3 decades of research; was forced to resign from his graduate teaching position due to his contemporary, un-orthodox views) and this author's beneficial work to mankind, go to waste.

=====[UPDATE on June 29, 2010:]=====

I remember leaving a(n Amazon.com) review some time ago on this book, and am going to update it with the following comment.

I started off around -7.25 (both eyes) when I chanced upon this book on Amazon. I was sick and tired of going to optometrists and shelling out a lot of money for glasses.

Right now I'm around -4.50 (both eyes), my 700 degree specs are SUPER sharp nowadays.

Why, because of applying what the book/method teaches/suggest, which MAINLY is to:

1) not stare
2) not strain
3) reduce stress (mental and tangible)

-4.00 and over is considered "high myopia," so I'd like to drop it down to -4.00 at least. That being said, if I can do that, I might as well go all the way down to 6/6 perfect eyesight.

WOW, what a miracle!
Author 5 books12 followers
November 8, 2013
One of those types of books which should be required reading for general health.

We learn how to exercise our bodies through P.E. classes but not much is ever mentioned about our eyes. How to keep them healthy, and keep their full range of focus ability.

Like many muscles, if we don't use them, we lose them. Staring at computer screens, or blank walls in offices all day, doesn't stretch our eyes to look into long distances.

A good read, with practical advice which may help many people. Like most things, it takes work.
Profile Image for Mary  Oliver.
7 reviews6 followers
January 8, 2013
Read the book to learn how to easily apply shifting and other methods to improve the eyesight. Use Amazon.com's `Look Inside Tool'; search for Shifting, Sketching, Brushing and Centralization taught by this Expert Author, Teacher.

I attended the Author Thomas Quackenbush's Natural Vision Improvement class in 1999 in San Francisco, CA after reading, studying his book 'Relearning To See-Improve Your Eyesight Naturally' in 1997. Later I read his 2nd book 'Better Eyesight, The Complete Magazines of William H. Bates' (The Ophthalmologist that discovered Natural Eyesight Improvement) when it was published in 2001. He has taught Natural Eyesight Improvement since 1983, trained thousands of students and hundreds of teachers.

My present age is 55. I have used the Bates Method since 1974, age 17 to keep my eyesight clear. In 1996 at age 40 I developed unclear close, reading vision; small print, objects at about 7 inches and closer were blurry. I tried the usual Bates Method of Natural Eyesight Improvement and it worked. I began searching for books on the subject and in 1997 purchased, studied Mr. Quackenbush's book. The vision then went from 20/20 with occasional fluctuation to 20/30, 40 then to clearer than 20/20 at close and far distances maintaining that clarity to my present age.

I had to check out this teacher! I attended his class in the spring of 1999. This resulted in the clearest eyesight I have ever experienced; 20/10 which is better than 20/20; seeing the smallest line on the bottom of the eyechart clear at 20 feet. Sometimes the eyesight is clearer; 30/10 to 40/10; 40 feet away-see the letters on the bottom line of the eye chart clear and smaller letters. (Usually 20/20-30/10 is the best I get due to working on a computer 5-10 hours a day.)
I can see fine details, crystal clear eyesight. I remember one day after coming home from Tom's class I easily saw a homeless man in our neighborhood 5 blocks away down Grand Avenue in So. San Francisco. Recognized details of his face, beard, hat, cloths.
At night I can look across the street in the dark and see people clear through a window in the far end of a lighted building. Objects outside in low light are clear and I can see the craters on the moon. No glare around lights at night, eyes are comfortable in bright sunlight without sunglasses.

This method corrected Presbyopia at age 40. I could read small print before, but now can read tiny fine print clear! See fine print clear 1-3 feet away... and up close to the eyes at 8, 6, 3, 2, 1 inches from the eyes. Also see a natural magnifying effect placing a small object or tiny fine print up close to the eyes, 1/4th inch almost touching the eyelashes and see it clear; like when I was a kid and would look at a clear colored marble close to the eye and see tiny parts inside the glass or like a jeweler does when inspecting a diamond without a magnifying glass. I practice reading the fine print as Dr. Bates describes and shifting point to point, tiny part to tiny part on the details in the small stones Tom gave us in his class or on a flower, leaf, piece of cloth...

I continue to use this natural eyesight method and the fine print directions to keep my reading vision, close and distant vision clear. Dec., 2012; age 55 and it still works.

This book, the method IS NOT EYE EXEXERCISES.
The person applies use of normal vision functions as easy, relaxed natural vision habits all the time, all day long. It is also used for night vision. With some practice, this occurs on its own, the normal eye, visual system function occurring automatically, maintaining clear eyesight.

Before taking the class, reading this book I only understood, used basic shifting; moving the eyes, (visual attention) side to side, top and bottom on an object to see it clear.
After learning from this author, teacher; I understood that the eye shifts freely, not in a repetitive, controlled, limited pattern and; tiny shifting, saccades also occur on small parts, fine details of objects. The author makes this easy by teaching `Sketching, Brushing'. The eyes use `Centralization' with shifting; 'using the eyes fovea centralis' (which is in the back of the eye, center of the macula, in the retina), moving the eyes central field from small part to small part (point to point) on objects. This is the normal function of the eyes and it occurs naturally, on its own. Imitating, practicing this returns the eyes, eyesight to normal function. Shifting, Centralization... are applied all the time as easy relaxed habits.

Go to Chapter 9, Part 3 to dive right into Natural Eyesight Improvement Training; The Three Principles of Natural Vision; MOVEMENT, CENTRALIZATION AND RELAXATION.
Then to Chapter 12, Part 4; The Three Habits of Natural Vision; SKETCHING, (ALSO KNOWN AS SHIFTING), BREATHING AND BLINKING

Then to Chapter 15 for the SUMARY.

Relaxation, Memory, Imagination; In the class we practiced a Self Healing Activity with relaxation, memory, imagination. The students sat in the class and closed, covered their eyes with the palms of their hands as described by the teacher.
We imagined, visualized a story using the memory, imagination to describe what subjects, objects we were thinking about. Each student creates their own addition to the imaginary story; A man from India that was sitting next to me in line talked about imagining he was in the jungle having a great time investigating the different plants, animals, the river, water falls, all in color, motion, seeing objects clear at close, middle, far distances, hearing the wind blow through the trees, bird calls, feeling the wind, warmth of the sun, touching objects, seeing, feeling their texture, shape...

Then my turn came to continue the story and I said I was upset with him because I was in my big stone chair in the woods relaxing, looking at the colored details in the stones and he was there feeding the wild animals, attracting tigers, monkeys... to my secret hideout. I could see the orange, yellow and black strips on the tiger, his face, whiskers, eyes, tail swaying. He crawled up on the rock with me and ate a sandwich the man gave him and then took a nap. He purred like a kitty cat. The sun sparkled on his fur as the breeze passed through it. Each person added to the story as we traveled in our minds, imagination. When we uncovered and opened our eyes many people, including myself experienced clear or improved sight. The relaxation remained long after the class when I returned to work. I could re-activate it anytime I felt stress, strain. Improving the memory, imagination, relaxation improves the clarity of eyesight.

The book, course improved mental clarity, function, sense of well-being and self-respect. I quit a dangerous job in a hotel that was causing much stress.

More than eyesight improvement, this is a stress reduction class. Relaxed breathing is taught. Relaxation of the shoulders, neck, correct posture, clear eyesight at the computer, healthy full spectrum sunlight, indoor light, how to work with an eye doctor to obtain freedom from glasses and other information is included.

The Bates method also corrected a wandering eye, double vision, blur and astigmatism condition I experienced in 2009-2011 due to a neck and back injury caused by a dishonest chiropractor throwing my neck, spine, hip, vertebrae, bones out of alignment, mis-aligned neck vertebrae C-1, 2, 4, 6, others along the shoulder area, T1... and the spine, hips then trying to sell me 240 treatments to start and stating I will never be cured. It was like being in a car accident; nerve, cartilage and other injuries, a whiplash like effect. Over 2 years I finally found a new, honest doctor, physical therapist and healing is now 95% although the injury in the neck may always be there so I have to be careful lifting, over straining the neck typing... Natural Eyesight Improvement brought the vision back to 100% clear!

Nerves travel from the neck, spinal cord, 'brain stem' to the eye muscles. The brain stem also connects in the brain and the optic nerve passes near the brain stem, through the brain. Nerves, blood, lymph vessels also travel to the brain, eyes through the neck. Any injury to the neck, vertebrae, misaligned vertebrae... and even the spine, back, pulling, tension on the spinal cord, brain stem can affect the eye muscles, brain/visual system, clarity of vision. This includes impairing eye movements and causing strabismus.

Dr. Bates proved that tension in the outer eye muscles causes pressure, tension, pulling on/in the eyeball, alters its shape and focus of light rays, clarity of vision. He also proved that relaxation of the muscles returns the eye to normal shape, correct focus of light rays and clear vision. See the color pictures of the eye, eye muscles in the Author's book; lengthened, shortened and irregular causing different vision problems due to tension in, malfunction of the outer oblique, recti eye muscles. Then see the picture of the normal eye producing clear vision. The ciliary `lens muscle' and lens function can also be affected.

I am grateful for the Natural Vision Improvement knowledge Mr. Quackenbush has taught me. It keeps the eyesight clear for life even under very adverse conditions! The body and sight can heal and with correct practices healing is faster, maintained.

Tom is one of the rare true teachers that has never strayed from the Bates Method. He has improved it using only natural safe practices.
Some other teachers have changed the method in order to make more money; advising lasik, sunglasses, contacts, harmful type eyeglasses and incorrect, unnatural practices that cause vision impairment. Tom has never done this.

I consider another main reason my eyesight never remained impaired in younger life and now is due to not wearing eyeglasses. In elementary and high school my mother bought glasses for me on advice of a nurse. I refused to wear them due to the pain, tension they caused and noticing the eyesight would be worse after wearing the glasses. Thankfully I had a nice mother and teacher. I was allowed to sit closer to the blackboard, without glasses and the distant vision improved on its own. In the U.S. Army my Sargent was smart and allowed us to have the option not to wear glasses. I could aim, hit the target with my M-16 from the distant foxhole without glasses.

Stress, strain, reading unfamiliar distant letters... can affect the sight. Teachers should realize this. I also think studies done on the computer should be printed out or listened to as to avoid constant reading on the computer screen and other devices which can lower the vision. Artificial 3-D in video games, Computers, some new TV's... impair brain, visual system, eye, eye muscle function.

I continue to refuse to wear eyeglasses. Eye doctors cannot prescribe for me because the vision is clear with use of the Bates Method.

I would have posted a review years ago but was a low income person, no access to internet, never heard of Amazon.com until a few years ago.

Feb, 2012 - buying another copy of this book to send to a friend. My friend has improved his vision. Mr. Quackenbush's book has helped many of my friends, people I meet in the grocery store, at work, the train station. We do sunning and shift, centralization... on the eyechart, trees, railroad tracks... waiting for the train into Boston.

I also have this book by Ophthalmologist Bates, Edited by Thomas Quackenbush (read-studied it many times and now read for fun!);
Profile Image for Brad Belschner.
Author 6 books34 followers
March 22, 2022
This book helped my improve my prescription from -9.5 to -7.0 Diopters. That's a huge difference, and I'm deeply indebted to Thomas Quackenbush (probably the all-time worst name to have if you work in alternative medicine!). I wanted to get all the way to 20/20 vision, but in the end I concluded this was not possible. The theory underlying this book is flawed.

The Bates Theory teaches that eyeballs are malleable, and that the muscles *surrounding* the eyeballs control focus. But eyeballs aren't malleable (with the exception of the cornea), and vision simply doesn't work that way. Sorry Bates.

Nevertheless, most of the peripheral content of this book is true. Eyes were designed to stay in motion, eyes were designed to focus on one tiny object at a time, blinking often is a good thing, most of the visual process is mental, etc. If we use our eyes improperly, then we can make our vision worse and worse over time. THOSE are the sort of vision problems we can improve, the kind caused by bad vision habits. The kind of vision problems we *can't* fix are those caused by the shape of our eyeballs. Quackenbush's advice and methods helped me to shave 2.5 Diopters off my prescription (which is amazing), but ultimately I guess the shape of my eyeballs prohibits me from seeing better than -7.0 D.

So in the end, I do recommend this book, but with a big grain of salt. If your prescription is 20/40, or something low like that, then you can almost certainly attain 20/20 vision. But if your vision is much worse (like mine), then you'll probably be able to make vast improvements, but it might be that hardware problems could keep you from attaining 20/20.
Profile Image for J.
24 reviews
April 27, 2014
I have had a unclear eysight especially for long distance view.

I take a little walk every morning and there I check my eyesight. There is a high voltage pole 1 km away and I thought the pole was made of 2 poles (with a horisontal bar above). Today I know and can clearly see that the double pole is for sure only one single pole. I see it clearly now, and even also the thin wires holding it in place.

Now I see the text on the televison clearly. Had great problems with that before this book.

There is no doubth in my mind – read this book, use it and avoid eyeglasses!
Profile Image for Livia Blackburne.
Author 12 books1,252 followers
July 6, 2010
It's a rather unfortunate last name for an alternative medicine author. I didn't read most of it -- just the relevant chapters. After reading this, I did request reduced prescriptions from my optomitrist, and twice in a row now, I've returned to the optomitrist to find that I see 20/20 with the reduced prescription. I'd say my eyes have improved maybe from -5.75 to -5.00? I don't quite remember. Not sure how far I can take this, but hey, any improvement is nice.
5 reviews
August 3, 2009
It had some interesting ideas, but overall no clinical (or other) research or trials were offered as proof.
Profile Image for Richard.
190 reviews10 followers
June 16, 2017
The Bates method involves

* Movement: eyes should always be in motion, never fixed on anything
* Centralization: keep looking at only one thing at a time
* Relaxation: don’t strain

The book includes suggestions for better shifting (sketch lines with your eyes), breathing (he likes yawning), blinking (do it more).

There is a section on nutrition (standard advice for real, low-processed foods. He also suggests no dairy or wheat).

http://www.seeing.org/ seems to be the main online site.

Wikipedia is highly critical of the method, pointing out that it’s never been scientifically validated, and that some of Bates’ assumptions about the eye are provable wrong.

Profile Image for Debra Daniels-Zeller.
Author 2 books10 followers
October 8, 2019
This book is way too long, but overall it's a great inspiration for anyone who wants to improve her vision. Lots of information about the eyes, how they work, things that go wrong with vision, plus lots of relaxation tips, aspects of the famous Bates Method for improving eyesight, plus exercises to improve your vision. For anyone tired of paying for new glasses and stronger prescriptions every year, this book is awesome inspiration. We need more books like this that empower us to take care of ourselves.
77 reviews2 followers
March 24, 2015
I tried. I tried this for years. I did the exercises, I walked around with my glasses so much that I became able to function fairly well amidst a huge blur. I was on a forum for fans of this book and they would all go on about how much it helped their vision. And then one day I said I was frustrated (my vision was really wretched) that my vision was, according to my eye chart, exactly the same, and people wrote and said basically, well, this really helped me feel better about not wearing glasses, but I'm the same on the eye chart too.

This will not improve your eyesight. If you're desperate to not wear glasses, you might find you can not wear them more comfortably than you might expect, but any variations in your vision will not be a result of doing eye exercises. Live with it.
Profile Image for Morgan.
186 reviews14 followers
June 29, 2010
Tom Quackenbush's textbook is a fascinating melange of basic biology with total devotion to Dr. William Bates and his methods. Quackenbush spends dozens and dozens of pages quoting entire passages from Bates' books and periodicals. I take issue with Quackenbush's fanboy fervor towards Bates' teachings-as-doctrine (and unlike the skeptics on Wikipedia, he does sweep some of Bates' mistakes under the rug), but this book is full of beautiful science and clear diagrams of how many of the exercises can be performed—a really great reference.
Profile Image for Dustin Palmer.
20 reviews
July 30, 2010
Thick book that takes some perserverance to get through, but the insights (no pun intended) are amazing--but only if actually applied. I'm applying the book in conjunction with many practical changes in how I see. I strongly suggest taking notes and practicing the new ways to see.
Profile Image for Marcia.
1,596 reviews17 followers
October 19, 2014
Reading Better Eyesight Without Glasses by Dr William Bates, left me very confused, but this book made the concept much clearer and provided the exercises to return one to normal habits. Why is this not taught in all schools?
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