Staying Positive with Myopia
by Mark Wolf-Cowan
I was at boarding school by the age of eight and a half. Maybe missing my parents and my family life in general had something to do with it, but just over a year and a half later I developed myopia. I had difficulty in seeing the blackboard and an intermittent ache behind both eyes,
The opticians gave me glasses for my short sight. I must say I rather liked them. It seemed to solve the problem pain around my eyes. Many of my school friends wore spectacles anyway so I was quite happy to join their ranks.
By the time I was at university I was wearing them all day. It was just a habit. My prescription was about -4 dioptres in both eyes. I wasn’t that worried as most of my fellow students were also myopic.
However, stronger and stronger lenses were prescribed at regular intervals. They became uncomfortable to wear and didn’t ease the eye pain. As the glasses became thicker, so everything looked smaller and smaller by comparison.
Now I was concerned. Why should my sight have worsened when everybody else’s remained stable? I was lucky enough to find a reasonably sympathetic optician in Highgate who allowed me to wear weaker lenses. The prescription of my twenties was repeatedly renewed.
I had always taken an interest in vision, even though by profession I am a landscape architect and town planner. In the last ten years I have read various books on eyesight including Janet Goodrich’s "Natural Vision Improvement" and one of Robert Michael Kaplan’s titles to name but two.
By 1992, I decided to seek professional advice about myopia. The Harley Street specialist I visited reassured me that I did not have progressive short sight or indeed anything worse. I then got hold of the "Bates Method" by Peter Mansfield, and have since spotted various editorials such as that in the Sunday Times in February 1996. So I wrote off for a list of teachers and sought out Ajay Sehgal in March 1997. My prescription by now was approximately -6.5 dioptres in the left eye and -6 in the right eye plus slight astigmatism.
Almost as soon as I started sunning and palming, I noticed a difference in my sight. When I look back, I remember having trouble seeing in the dark and I needed sunglasses to keep out the glare of light. Now I sun for a few minutes daily. Using a torch with a halogen bulb around and between my closed eyes has really helped. My night vision is better. Palming for five to ten minutes on a regular basis certainly relaxes me.
All the swings have encouraged my eyes to work together in a balanced and harmonious way. My vision over the last eighteen months has continued to improve. Now I often leave my glasses off at home - it doesn’t matter if my surroundings are blurry because I am so familiar with then. Obviously I still need them for driving.
Generally I feel much more relaxed about things. I have mentioned the Bates Method to several people, all of whom have been interested if not slightly sceptical. I think that is due in part to ignorance. Although my wife and children enjoy normal sight, they have been very supportive.
I never did like wearing strong prescription lenses, so for me the Bates lessons have been a big turnaround. Instead of becoming increasingly myopic, my vision is now better than it has been for a long time. For me the whole Bates experience has been very positive.
November 9, 1998