This morning I received a note from a vision student of another teacher, asking me how long it took me to see improvement in my vision once I started the Bates Method. This kind of note always gives me pause. I can say my eyes immediately felt better when I took off my -10 lenses, but I was terrified and everything farther than a foot away was a total fog of gray blur. I don’t want to discourage anyone and make them think their own progress will be as slow as mine seems to have been, nor do I want to lead them to believe that improvement will be steadily upward and linear. I’m also not sure it could be said that I was “doing the Bates Method” 7 or 8 or 9 years ago when I was wearing reduced prescription contact lenses, but still straining a lot and not using my eyes in a healthy way.
Thinking about my visual history more, I could separate it into phases. In 2001 I visited a behavioral optometrist for the first time, where I discarded my -10 hard contacts for good and got reduced soft ones (with no astigmatism correction where it had been -1.75), plus a few pairs of glasses to practice with. I know now I was in a high state of anxiety bordering on constant fear, but I had to start somewhere. For about 4 years I slowly reduced my prescription and was still quite anxious. It was a big success when I could drive with -8 glasses at night (even though I was still wound pretty tight), since the first time I had looked through -8 glasses in 2001 they didn’t seem to make a dent in my deep blur at all.
The second phase was when I stopped wearing soft contacts and transitioned to only glasses. This felt like stepping farther out on the diving platform above the abyss, since with glasses, no matter how strong, it was obvious to me all the time my vision was not clear. I knew this was a necessary phase if I ever wanted to get out of glasses for good, but it was uncomfortable and somewhat scary. I felt more vulnerable with glasses on than I had with contacts, as if everyone could see my “flaw”.
It was about this time, maybe 2004, that I found Robert Lichtman’s forum (Effortless Vision now) and started communicating with other people who were improving vision. Since I was so introverted, this reaching out was a huge step for me. I was still wearing glasses almost all the time, about -5 in the daytime and stronger at night, and doing no dedicated Bates practices, even though by now I had read all the classic NVI books by Jacob Liberman, Roberto Kaplan, Tom Quackenbush, etc. Looking back, I was still mostly “in my head” then.
For a few years I floundered, making no real improvement, only trying to do more things without glasses and getting alternately frustrated and frightened. Even if my vision improved no further and I always needed -6.5 glasses to drive at night, it was still a lot better than it had been for most of my life! I found David’s iblindness forum, started this blog, and found Sorrisi’s which helped me a lot. I finally decided to incorporate the dreaded eye chart into my daily routine — I had avoided it for years because it told me my vision was so poor. Now it’s more like play. I retired from 30 years at my corporate computer job, and started my studies of alternative healing — I had already been studying dreams for about 5 years. I began slowly shedding a lifetime of tension with practices like meditation and receiving regular massage, and was seeing real (eyechart-measurable) improvement in my eyesight.
So here I am today, functioning without glasses and happy to be that way. Yes, I’m still not driving at night, and I sometimes need to be nearer than other people do to see something, but that’s fine, and I expect this to improve as I keep practicing. So “How long did it take you?” could be answered with “10 years, and I’m not 20/20 yet except for flashes”, or “Give me 2 minutes with the eye chart and I can improve my vision right now!”. It’s all in how you look at it.