Bates Method International

Central Fixation - definition


b. 1920 - d. ?

Just what does the word 'Fixation' mean in the term: 'Central Fixation'?


The term 'central fixation' is perhaps one of the most frequently confused Bates method terms, and this is because the word 'fixation' has several uses in the English language which are contrary to the intended understanding in ophthalmology and the Bates method. Generally people think the word implies a fixed, held, or static state (cf. definitions Nos. 1-3 below). However, in ophthalmology the definition is quite different:

6. (ophthalmology) - direction of the gaze so that the visual image of the object falls on the fovea centralis.

This is in direct alignment with what Dr Bates was trying to convey. That is, that 'central fixation' is a pattern of visual engagement which is in accordance with normal use and anatomy of the eyes and neurology of the brain. What ophthalmology doesn't readily acknowledge is that it's possible for the mind to become habitually engaged in activities other than what is being directly observed, and that this can be a possible foundation for visual impairment in the long term. This is the essence of what the Bates method teaches.

fixation /fix·a·tion/ (fik-sa´shun) 
1. the process of holding, suturing, or fastening in a fixed position.
2. the condition of being held in a fixed position.
3. in psychiatry: (a) arrest of development at a particular stage, or (b) a close suffocating attachment to another person, especially a childhood figure, such as a parent.
4. the use of a fixative to preserve histological or cytological specimens.
5. in chemistry, the process whereby a substance is removed from the gaseous or solution phase and localized.
6. in ophthalmology, direction of the gaze so that the visual image of the object falls on the fovea centralis.
7. in film processing, removal of all undeveloped salts of the film emulsion, leaving only the developed silver to form a permanent image.


Further reading:

Understanding the basics #1 - Central Fixation FAQ - Central Fixation