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Bates method / eyesight improvement

Discussions about Holistic Health and Alternative Medicine.

Bates method / eyesight improvement

Postby Belteshazzar » 08 Apr 2011, 11:09

Has anyone here tried to improve their eyesight naturally, or know anyone who has? The Bates method has been around for a long time, and according to some Skeptics it has been debunked many times. Quackwatch has a popular article about it, and James Randi reported that Martin Gardner was very upset that the publisher of Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, which has a chapter addressing the Bates method, also published a pro-Bates method book!

A question which is often asked when this is brought up: If it really works, why does anyone still wear glasses? I would respond by asking a question such as, if it's really possible to quit smoking, then how are cigarette companies still in business? Which is not to say that I am sure the Bates method can work to the extent claimed. But the Skeptics naturally dismiss all "anecdotal" evidence of individual success in improving eyesight.
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Re: Bates method / eyesight improvement

Postby really? » 08 Apr 2011, 11:26

Contrary to scientific fact, Bates taught that errors of refraction are due, not to the basic shape of the eyeball or the structure of the lens, but to a functional and therefore curable derangement in the action of the muscles on the outside of the eyeball. All defects in vision, he said, were caused by eyestrain and nervous tension; and perfect vision could be achieved by relaxing the eyes completely. Bates warned that eyeglasses cause the vision to deteriorate; he also deplored the use of sunglasses. Bates claimed his exercises could correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia (the inability of older people to focus their eyes on nearby objects). They could also cure such diseases as cataracts, eye infections, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. His exercises included palming (covering the eyes and attempting to see blackness) and shifting or swinging the gaze from object to object.


Have you ever heard if something sounds to good to be true it probably is.
Bates must back up claims with scientific evidence not just words.
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Re: Bates method / eyesight improvement

Postby Arouet » 08 Apr 2011, 12:19

Never heard of this Bates method. Of course we should reject anecdotal evidence. This would be ridiculously easy to test scientifically. Take a bunch of people with glasses, give them an eye exam. Run this method. Give them another eye exam. See if anyone's eyesight has improved.

This shouldn't even considered controvercial.
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Re: Bates method / eyesight improvement

Postby Belteshazzar » 08 Apr 2011, 13:41

I am reminded of a discussion which I read some time ago, and which probably influenced my "quit smoking" analogy. The Bates method would not be "ridiculously easy to test scientifically", at least if the test was fair and objective, because the method is about changing habits. It would be nice to see some testing done, but it should not simply be a matter of giving the subjects some exercises to do and taking "before and after" measurements.
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Re: Bates method / eyesight improvement

Postby Arouet » 08 Apr 2011, 19:08

Do you understand how medical trials work? How do you think they test anything? Or are we not actually talking about improving eyesight? How else are you going to demonstrate whether the person's eyesight has improved? You need to perform an eye exam!
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Re: Bates method / eyesight improvement

Postby really? » 08 Apr 2011, 21:01

Belteshazzar wrote:I am reminded of a discussion which I read some time ago, and which probably influenced my "quit smoking" analogy. The Bates method would not be "ridiculously easy to test scientifically", at least if the test was fair and objective, because the method is about changing habits. It would be nice to see some testing done, but it should not simply be a matter of giving the subjects some exercises to do and taking "before and after" measurements.


No, Bates isn't talking about changing habits you are. He's stated that exercising the muscles that control eye movement can improve ones vision along with curing eye disease. If Bates is right [ I know he's not] his method could very easily be proven through testing and examining the before and after results to see if visual acuity has improved and those with the mentioned eye dieases have stopped the progression or reversed the disease. I guess you know Bates also said to stare at the Sun is a good way to relax the eyes. It's also a good way to burn your retina permanently.

What I don't understand is why you take the words of Bates an opthamologist who's been dead for 80 years as reliable and knowledgeable when contemporary ophthalmologists didn't and modern day ophthalmologists don't ? I wonder what motivates people like you.
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Re: Bates method / eyesight improvement

Postby Arouet » 08 Apr 2011, 23:40

Yeah, I don't get the motivation either. I have absolutely no issues with alternative medicine in principle. I have no issue with taking inspiration from ancient remedies, or developing new remedies which are unconventional. But what I don't get is the unwillingness of proponents of those methods to subject the remedies to proper scientific study or the willingness to accept that it is effective without such studies.

The techniques for testing medical treatments - including eye care - are well establiehed. There is no magic to it. We know how to do it. There is no need to make excuses for it - it can either be demonstrated to work, or it can't. And if it can't, then why would we ever want to do it?
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Re: Bates method / eyesight improvement

Postby really? » 09 Apr 2011, 02:58

The internet is the most democratic thing invented so far. It allows everyone with a crackpot idea a platform upon which to speak of ideas that should have die a quite death long ago.
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Re: Bates method / eyesight improvement

Postby Belteshazzar » 09 Apr 2011, 04:04

Arouet wrote:Do you understand how medical trials work? How do you think they test anything? Or are we not actually talking about improving eyesight? How else are you going to demonstrate whether the person's eyesight has improved? You need to perform an eye exam!

I never said that an eye exam shouldn't be performed. It would be best to do several eye exams throughout the experiment to track any changes. The problem would be the treatment. It would be easy just to give the subjects a list of exercises to do, but that would be a straw-man, as habits would not be addressed.

really? wrote:No, Bates isn't talking about changing habits you are. He's stated that exercising the muscles that control eye movement can improve ones vision along with curing eye disease.


Bates did not state that, though it is a common misperception. He believed that "strain" was the underlying cause of bad eyesight, and that unlearning it was the key to improving vision.

really? wrote:I guess you know Bates also said to stare at the Sun is a good way to relax the eyes. It's also a good way to burn your retina permanently.

What I don't understand is why you take the words of Bates an opthamologist who's been dead for 80 years as reliable and knowledgeable when contemporary ophthalmologists didn't and modern day ophthalmologists don't ? I wonder what motivates people like you.


Did I say I was taking Bates' words as reliable and knowledgeable? No. His name happens to be commonly associated with vision improvement, but it did not begin or end with him. Moreover, as I stated in my original post I am not convinced that this can really work to the extent which is claimed by supporters. Even anecdotally, dramatic improvements seem to be rare. But is this because it's not physically possible, or because it's too impractical in the context of day-to-day life? Ideally, the subjects of such a test would be in an environment in which their needs were taken care of and they didn't have to wear their corrective lenses, which are regarded as detrimental to progress.
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Re: Bates method / eyesight improvement

Postby Arouet » 09 Apr 2011, 04:29

Belteshazzar wrote:I never said that an eye exam shouldn't be performed. It would be best to do several eye exams throughout the experiment to track any changes. The problem would be the treatment. It would be easy just to give the subjects a list of exercises to do, but that would be a straw-man, as habits would not be addressed.


My short post was not meant to describe exaactly how I would perform the clinical trial. My point was that if we are to accept this as something that works, it must be demonstrated through a clinical trial. Obviously the trial must be designed in a way that is suitable to what is being tested. However, if part of that test involves things tthat are not safe - such as staring at the sun - those elements should obviously not be tested.

Now, I acknowledge that you have said you don't believe it works as promised, but the greater point is why would you believe that it works at all without proper clinical trials having been done?
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Re: Bates method / eyesight improvement

Postby Belteshazzar » 10 Apr 2011, 03:03

Arouet wrote:Now, I acknowledge that you have said you don't believe it works as promised, but the greater point is why would you believe that it works at all without proper clinical trials having been done?

Take a look at this case history. Note that this woman is an optometrist. Is she lying? Extremely deluded? Or was the improvement merely coincidental, unrelated to anything she was doing? I guess all of those things are possible, but can you honestly read that and discount it? Now, it says it took her seven years, which gives us an idea of the difficulties of subjecting this approach to clinical trials.

How about this? Again, the guy is an optometrist. Is he lying about the results he has gotten with presbyopic patients? Deluded? I've tried to get a couple of people who have presbyopia to try this, but they didn't stick with it for more than a few days, finding it easier to just keep using their reading glasses.
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Re: Bates method / eyesight improvement

Postby Arouet » 10 Apr 2011, 05:51

I'm not sure how those articles contradict what I said. I have no vested interest in this topic. I wear glasses and would be delighted if there was a natural and safe way to improve my sight without surgery. I simply would want there to be proper, scientific evidence. I have no opinion on those articles (I'll admit I did not read them in detail). It's not for me to figure this out. I'll rely on the scientific community, as I do with getting my glasses in the first place.
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Re: Bates method / eyesight improvement

Postby Arouet » 10 Apr 2011, 05:52

Incidentally: if the natural method is quite onerous, then it may indeed not be worth-it.
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Re: Bates method / eyesight improvement

Postby really? » 10 Apr 2011, 11:44

Belteshazzar wrote:
Arouet wrote:Now, I acknowledge that you have said you don't believe it works as promised, but the greater point is why would you believe that it works at all without proper clinical trials having been done?

Take a look at this case history. Note that this woman is an optometrist. Is she lying? Extremely deluded? Or was the improvement merely coincidental, unrelated to anything she was doing? I guess all of those things are possible, but can you honestly read that and discount it? Now, it says it took her seven years, which gives us an idea of the difficulties of subjecting this approach to clinical trials.

How about this? Again, the guy is an optometrist. Is he lying about the results he has gotten with presbyopic patients? Deluded? I've tried to get a couple of people who have presbyopia to try this, but they didn't stick with it for more than a few days, finding it easier to just keep using their reading glasses.


Testimonials which is what both of these articles are is what you have when you don't have evidence. Testimonials aren't science they're personal opinions. Your evidence for the efficacy of the Bates Method must be a lot stronger than this.
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Re: Bates method / eyesight improvement

Postby Arouet » 10 Apr 2011, 12:29

It occurred to me earlier this evening as I was driving that even accepting that something like this could work, it could only be acceptable those with only slightly poor vision in the first place. That is: a slow, gradual improvement would mean that my glasses would constantly be too strong! One can't change one's prescription every few months (at least not without being fairly wealthy).

In any event, if staring at the sun is a necessary component of these techniques, then this program should not be considered suitable for full clinical trials anyway. Far too dangerous. Even if there is technically a safe was to stare at the sun that this method endorses, in practice people will screw it up far too often to make the risks worth it.
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