Up In The Clouds
by Reg O'Sullivan
When I think back, it was probably that classic classrom condition - boredom - which brought about my myopia. I was only ten years old. Thus began a lifetime of wearing glasses.
As a property consultant, I needed glasses for driving, but habit and laziness had set up a pattern of wearing them all day, even though I could read perfectly well without them. My short sight gradually deteriorated to -6 dioptres. In my twenties, I suffered badly with stress related migraines but now I was constantly plagued by stiffness in the neck.
Then about two years ago, I decided to fulfil an ambition to train as a commercial helicopter pilot. It was something I had always wanted to do but I knew my vision was well below the accepted standard. A private pilot’s licence allows for a discretionary -6 dioptres to include myopia and astigmatism, but that for a commercial pilot is far more exacting, -3 dioptres.
If ever I was to achieve my goal, I had to find another way to improve my eyesight. Bur how? One day, I was discussing the subject at a pilot’s meeting when a member gave me the ISBN number belonging to the book "Better Sight Without Glasses" by Dr W H Bates. I also obtained Meir Schneider’s "Handbook of Self Healing".
To be sure, at first I was very sceptical about the alternative scene; it seemed reminiscent of the hippie sixties. But as I began to read, I realised that the information made sense and I became more open minded about the holistic approach to life. So I tracked down the Bates Association and contacted my local teacher, Wendy Finch.
Here I am two years on. I have found sunning and palming to be very relaxing and beneficial. For over thirty years sunlight and headlamp glare have caused me great discomfort and strain. Within two weeks of starting the Bates Method my photosensitivity had lessened considerably. Earlier in my life I had practised transcendental meditation so palming was an enjoyable and relaxing experience.
With time, I realised that whenever I took off my glasses, my eyes seemed very stiff and tense. I experimented with looking up and down, left and right and vice versa. I started to read without them. This was a whole new world! I began to accept whatever I saw, whether it was clear or blurry. Even my stiff neck started to ease. Massage and acupuncture also helped.
However, it was the string and pencil test which really gave my eyes "a kick in the pants". Whenever I looked at the pencil directly in front of the one behind, the latter appeared double and vice versa. This experience was reinforced by looking at two markers spread out evenly along a string and seeing the latter apparently dividing into two before converging into a peg. Both techniques were invaluable.
Now I am able to drive without glasses in daylight, but I obviously need them at night time. I am careful. By varying my focus from the far to the near point, my vision improves enormously. Gazing at clouds in the distance is great; that is probably because I like flying so much. The mid point is still a little blurry but there is no danger in my driving.
Can you believe it? I have now improved to -2.75 dioptres in both eyes. I have had my prescription lowered four times, not without some trouble and consternation from the opticians. My only way of getting round this problem was to visit a different ophthalmologist every time. After all, I knew what he was able to see, with or without a test.
Of course, there are periods when nothing seems to be happening but I am not going to give up! In fact, I have now stopped eating junk food and have lost weight. It was only a little while ago that my grandson was worried that I was driving without glasses. But he figured it out: "Grandpa, you can see without them!"