Bates Method International

What is Strain?

Strain can be defined as unnecessary and inappropriate effort applied to the task at hand. If you strain to see, the eye muscles tighten, the eyes cease to move freely and the retinas become desensitised. The mind simultaneously is held in a state of effortful perception and thinking, which can then have an impact on other areas of the body, beyond the physical and mental processes of vision.

Focusing intently on the screen
Focusing intently on the screen - Image © 15 Second Art Ltd

In the early stages of a visual problem, it may be quite easy to let go of the strain. However if the visual problem has become established, a person can be so physically and mentally accustomed to the strain that it is often difficult to understand or let go. Glasses and contact lenses compound the issue by locking the strain in place and rewarding the person with a form of 'clear sight' that leaves no room to explore any flexibility or the causes. That is why so many orthodox vision professionals believe that the eye is fixed and vision cannot improve.

As Bates wrote:

The eye with normal sight never tries to see. If for any reason, such as the dimness of the light, or the distance of the object, it cannot see a particular point, it shifts to another. It never tries to bring out the point by staring at it, as the eye with imperfect sight is constantly doing.
W H Bates: Perfect Sight Without Glasses 1920 pg 106