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Have you ever asked your eye doctor why your vision is blurry? I remember when I asked my eye doctor why I was nearsighted, what was causing my blur and astigmatism. He bluntly replied, “Your eyeball is too long and misshapen.” I asked him why my eyeball was wrongly shaped and, seemingly annoyed with my prodding, he responded, “It’s hereditary.” Most doctors in other specialty fields would be happy to answer their patient’s questions when trying to get more clarity about the cause of their problem, but this eye doctor did not seem to wish to look much deeper than the surface. Surely genes played a part in the development of my vision problems, but I had a gut feeling that there were other contributing factors at play that my conventional eye doctor was not telling me about.
Dr. William Bates’ research filled in many of the gaps that the orthodox explanations left empty in my mind. His more holistic approach took many other contributing factors into consideration beyond just age and genes. The underlying root cause to almost all vision problems, according to Bates, is strain. In his research and writings, Bates extrapolated on the influence of strain on refractive errors and vision problems. He focused primarily on mental strain since he believed vision to be 90% mental and only 10% physical.
So what is mental strain? As opposed to the physical strain brought on by bad vision habits like squinting and staring, mental strain refers to psychological stress, worry, and anxiety. The mental is more important than the physical because the mental strain tends to cause the physical strain to manifest. Think about it like this: physical strain is at the root of the vision problem, and mental strain is at the root of the physical strain.
One example of mental strain that Dr. Bates referred to often was lying. While examining patient’s eyes with an ophthalmoscope, he was able to measure an increase of refractive error, in other words an increase in blur, when he asked them to tell a lie. When they told the truth there was not much of a change, but right as they began to tell a lie the refractive error would exaggerate. Another example of mental strain he discovered was unfamiliarity. While examining patient’s eyes, particularly those of schoolchildren, he once again could measure an increase of refractive error when someone would look at something unfamiliar. Lets say a child learns the geography of the United States at the beginning of the school year and becomes familiar with it. When that child looks at a map of the United States in the middle of the school year there will not be a change in his or her vision. However, the first time they look at a map of Europe or Asia they may experience an increase in refractive error due to the mental strain that the unfamiliar map brings about. This is why Dr. Bates recommended that all teachers hang a simple eye chart at the front of every classroom to act as the familiar object for all the students to look at whenever being introduced to new, unfamiliar objects. If the unfamiliar objects create blur, they can quickly glance over at the familiar eye chart to eliminate the blur. Unfortunately, this practice only lasted a few years before the eye charts were removed from schools.
So if you have blurry vision, ask yourself a few deeper questions. Have you ever lied to someone else? Have you ever lied to yourself? Is there something you are still lying to yourself about? Can you remember how you reacted to learning new subjects and topics growing up throughout school? If you developed blurry vision later in life maybe you had to learn new things or take on new tasks or responsibilities to advance your career. Maybe some of those things brought on new forms of mental strain that were not present previously.
One aspect of mental strain that Dr. Bates did not discuss too deeply was emotional strain, or more specifically the suppression of certain emotions like fear, anger, sadness, and grief. I have not had a single student who has not been able to discover or acknowledge some form of emotional root to their vision problem. Take yourself back to the time when you first noticed a change in your vision or when you first started wearing glasses. If you are nearsighted maybe this will be at a young age between 5 and 10. If you are farsighted maybe this will be a little later in life between 40 and 50. No matter how long ago this moment was for you, try and do some investigation and some digging to realize what was going on in your life on a deeper level. How old were you? What stage of life were you in? What types of transitions or transformations were you going through? What was going on in your family with your siblings, parents, or grandparents? What was going on socially with your peers, friends, and enemies? Were you in any fights or holding any grudges? What was going on in school or at work? Were you bullied in school? Were you working in a stressful or unfulfilling job? What was going on in the world around you locally and globally? What types of emotions were you holding in or not fully expressing? What lies formed during that time? Have you ever let them out or told the truth about them even if it was a long time ago and seemingly irrelevant? Were there any traumatic events you witnessed or were a part of? Was there anything that entered your eyes that you were not ready or willing to see? Try and figure out what types of fears and strains these established in your mind and see if you can observe how that pattern has continued to this day.
These are the kinds of questions that no eye doctor will ask you. Yet these are your individual root causes to your vision problems and when they are not dealt with the problem will never be solved. Instead of asking these deeply provocative life questions, which could potentially bring back the clarity and avert the need for glasses in the first place, your busy eye doctor will instead swiftly prescribe you a pair of distance or reading glasses to help you see through these inner imbalances. But they are still there, burrowing even deeper and will continue negatively effecting your body and mind until they are looked at and dealt with. When I say “deal with”, I don’t necessarily imply that you must relive traumatic experiences from the past, but rather congratulate yourself that you have made a discovery of one of your own individual root causes and acknowledge that the two are connected. If you have discovered some form of unresolved emotion or untold lie, it may feel really good to either fully feel that emotion now that you are older and more equipped to handle it, or to come clean and tell the truth. This may result in what I consider to be a very beneficial and necessary eye exercises: crying. The eyes are not only for seeing. They are also for crying. The surrendering to emotion and releasing of tears can also result in a releasing of pent up emotions, stresses, worries, anxieties, and strains.
So I encourage you to become an emotional archaeologist, to dig deeper into your past, and shine your inner light on some of the darker or partially forgotten areas and unresolved issues that you have been putting off looking at.