History of Dr Bates

Dr William Horatio Bates was born in 1860 in Newark, New Jersey. He received his Medical Degree in 1885 and practised both privately and in various hospitals in New York City.

From 1886 to 1891 Dr Bates was an instructor in ophthalmology at the New York Postgraduate Hospital and Medical School, and at various times he also acted as advisor to school boards in New York State. From 1911 to 1922 he took outpatient clinics at the Harlem Hospital.

Before the turn of the century Dr Bates had become increasingly dissatisfied with conventional ophthalmological practice, and he consequently began his own research into eyesight disorders, which led to the development of The Bates Method.

As early as 1891 he had learned how to help people out of their glasses.

His dissatisfaction had begun when he observed patients with a refractive error (e.g. short or long sight) that seemed to spontaneously change for the better, sometimes to the point of a complete reversal of symptoms.

This led him to question one of the most basic assumptions of the accepted practice of ophthalmology; namely, that once symptoms of refractive error were present in a particular patient, then nothing could be done other than prescribing glasses.

Dr Bates went on to formulate a new set of theories about eyesight and he developed a method to help people to improve their sight.

The method developed by Dr Bates continues to be taught all over the world, with professional teachers in many countries helping people to see better without glasses, lenses, or disease.

Eye Charts in Schools:
In 1911 and 1912 the same system was introduced into some of the schools of New York City, with an attendance of about 10,000 pupils. Many of the teachers [...] did what they could to defeat the purpose of the system, which is to give the children daily exercise in distant vision with a familiar object as the point of fixation. A considerable number, however, use the system intelligently and persistently, and in less than a year were able to present results showing that of three thousand children with imperfect sight over one thousand had obtained normal vision by its means.

-Wm H. Bates, Myopia Prevention by Teachers, N. Y. Med. Jour., Aug. 30, 1913.

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