How We See
Your eyes work much like a camera. Light bounces off the image in front of you and comes into your eyes through the cornea, which acts like a window at the front of the eye. Once the light comes through the pupil it will go through the eye's lens. Just like in a camera, the lens is used to focus on an object and direct the light to the back of the eye. The images we see are made up of light reflected from the objects we look at. Because the front part of the eye is curved, it bends the light, creating an upside down image on the retina.
Imagine your eyes as a camera - for your camera to work, light must come in through the lens and reach the back of the camera. When you point the camera at a flower, the sunlight that bounces off the flower enters through the lens. The lens directs the light so that it shines onto the back of the camera. Light cannot bend and must travel in a straight line. Because the area in the lens where light goes in is very small compared to the size of the object, the light that contains the image will create an upside down and flipped picture. The images that are captured on your retina are also upside down but your brain converts the information so you perceive the world correctly.
Your eyes work much like a camera. Light bounces off the image in front of you and comes into your eyes through the cornea. The cornea is a clear thin layer on the outside of your eyes. The cornea will help direct the light towards your pupil and Iris. These two parts work together to control the amount of light entering your eye. As you can SEE, vision is a complex process. The brain has to do a lot of work to make a picture.
The most common forms of vision impairment are errors of refraction -- the way light rays are focused inside the eye so images can be transmitted to the brain. Nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism are examples of refractive disorders and often occur when the eyes are otherwise healthy.
Therapy and Relaxation
To better understand if eye exercises that promise "natural vision improvement" can actually reduce refractive errors, you need to consider eye anatomy and how the eye refracts light.
Problems with how the eye is shaped typically contribute to focusing errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. For example:
- When the eyeball is too short, you are farsighted and can't focus on near objects because light rays entering your eye achieve a point of focus somewhere beyond your retina.
- When you are nearsighted and your eyeball is too long, light rays have too far to go and "fall short" of achieving a point of focus on your retina.
- When you have astigmatism, usually your cornea has an irregular shape, causing light rays entering your eye to split into different points of focus, creating blurry vision.
- Another common vision problem, presbyopia, occurs with aging when your eye's natural lens starts to lose elasticity and no longer can move properly to focus on close-up objects. This condition typically causes your near vision to start blurring, beginning at around age 40.
Eye exercises typically make you move your eye muscles to create up-and-down, side-to-side or circular motions and make you change your point of focus to different distances. By learning how to relax their eye muscles, people can improve their eyesight. When you think about it, it’s unbelievable that the Bates and the Hackett approach hasn’t become more widely used.
Scientists who are studying neuroplasticity—a new branch of neuroscience that is developing from an understanding that the brain is capable of much more self-repair and healing than we ever thought possible. They’ve discovered many instances of the brain’s being able to develop new patterns through learning experiences. Consider this for one moment: you see with your brain. The brain processes the signals from your retinas and your optic nerve to supply an image to your conscious self. This could be the key to explaining the theories that Bates developed.
But let’s take a closer look at the problem. The World Health Organization estimates that 246 million people have “low vision,” which means they are not blind (as 39 million others are) but they have serious visual impairment, even with corrections like eyeglasses. What’s more, these numbers are considered to be on the conservative side. But if our vision is getting so much worse because of how we are using our eyes, wouldn’t it be logical that we could recover by learning to use your eyes in a better way?
It is definitely not a regimen of eye exercises. It’s a bad idea to focus only on eye exercises, because "every time you try harder and make an effort to see better, you are increasing the tension on your eyes. While actually you should be letting go of tension.” Eye exercises are forced movements, while relaxation is the key to vision improvement. Bates developed several techniques that can help you relax your eyes.
The refractive error is not static as eyeglasses are; vision acuity fluctuates all day, sometimes focusing a bit better, other times somewhat worse. Glasses give you the same constant compensation all day long, she explains, and that’s hard on your eyes. They lose the freedom to adapt to each situation—another reason why glasses create eyestrain.
Eyes are part of the body, and if there is a constant strain on them, your body needs to make a constant effort to let them work. Letting go of this tension and strain is very valuable. What you gain is much more than just being able to live without glasses.