A holistic guide to improving one’s vision both physically and spiritually
• Explains how blurred vision is a reflection of other imbalances in the body, mind, and spirit
• Offers natural methods for improvement of poor eyesight and stress-related difficulties, including dyslexia and ADHD
• Combines the core values of the Bates method of natural vision improvement and Taoism
Fewer than three percent of children in North America are born with visual defects, yet as they become adults nearly two thirds will become reliant on prescription lenses to see clearly. Virtually nonexistent in pre-industrialized cultures, this epidemic of blurred vision can be traced to mental, physical, and spiritual imbalances in modern society. The traditional “quick fixes” of eyeglasses and contact lenses only serve to cover the true cause of blurred vision while increasing eye-strain, and often progressively worsen eyesight as the eyes become trained to work within the confines of the corrective lenses. The advent of refractive surgery carries even more serious risks.
In Restoring Your Eyesight, Doug Marsh offers a natural alternative that shows readers how to improve their eyesight by taking conscious control of their vision health. He combines proven methods pioneered a century ago by eye doctor William Bates with the ancient Chinese wisdom of Taoism. Marsh describes how vision goes deeper than the eyes and optic nerves, extending well into the layers of the mind, emotions, and spirit. Eyesight difficulties are often connected to behavioral and stress-related syndromes, such as dyslexia, ADHD, stuttering, TMJ, and anxiety disorders. He draws upon the core values of the Bates method and Taoism--rhythm, softness, return, balance, and wholeness--to provide guidelines for a holistic healing of outer and inner vision.
My introduction to the world of prescription eyewear began in grade four. As I sat in the classroom one day, the desk suddenly seemed to move around me. The entire room then started to spin. The vertigo attack left me queasy and clammy and I obviously didn’t look well to the teacher. The next thing I recall was visiting the school nurse’s office where my vision was tested by reading an eye chart. The nurse then recommended me for an eye examination by a specialist. Whether it was an optometrist or an ophthalmologist, I don’t know; the result was my first pair of glasses.
The novelty of wearing glasses was fun at the beginning. But the novelty quickly wore off; the fun turned to loathing as my lenses got thicker each year. The impediments of glasses led me to reflect about my fate more than once: “Why do I have such lousy eyesight? If people in ancient times had vision this poor, how did they function before glasses were invented? How on earth did they manage to do things and get around with such blurry sight?”
I also remember reading about my condition of myopia (nearsightedness) being hereditary. This made absolutely no sense to me at the time. Neither of my two brothers were nearsighted. Nor did my parents have myopia as children (although they did eventually get them as adults, their prescriptions were very weak compared to mine). None of my grandparents had glasses for myopia when they were young either. My instincts were giving me a message that something was amiss.
Then one day while reading an alternative health magazine I came across a brief reference to a controversial eye doctor named William Horatio Bates. The piece stated he had written a book in the early 1900s entitled The Cure for Imperfect Sight by Treatment Without Glasses. I immediately “knew” my childhood instincts were right. This was my first step on the journey of Natural Vision Improvement.
I was hopeful my rate of improvement would be fairly quick, yet it wasn't to be. The path of improvement was a long journey that seemed to retreat many times. It also felt too slow, lonely and frustrating, and I considered giving up more than once. But I remembered the advice of Harry Benjamin, author of Better Eyesight Without Glasses, to have “faith, patience and determination.” Taoism also reminded me to be patient: “He who strides cannot maintain the pace.”
For example, early in my NVI program I took the plunge with naked eyes during office meetings to help wean myself from the strong prescription lenses. My natural sight at that point was so fuzzy (technically, I was legally blind without glasses) I had tremendous difficulty making out facial features of people three feet across the table from me. The eyes, nose and mouth of a person’s face would be awash in a homogenous, skin-toned hue. My vision gradually improved--month by month, year by year--beyond this abysmal state to a point where I could see remarkably well at much farther distances, even under low light conditions.
I eventually got to the point where I could function quite well without the aid of prescription eyewear for most activities, including golfing. It was during a golf game with my wife late one summer evening that I realized how far I’d come since I started the journey. We were getting in the last couple of holes at dusk and I was relying solely on my natural eyesight. While standing on the teebox of a par-four, 396 yards long, I looked towards the green and could see the flag on the pin distinctly from that distance.
I mentioned my observations to my wife without a response. So when I mentioned it again, she decided to test me. She asked what color the flag was. There were three possible choices depending on where the hole was cut--blue for back of green, yellow for the middle, or red for the front. Without hesitation, I answered yellow because that's clearly what I saw--no guessing. Although she verified it, the confirmation wasn’t necessary; I knew what I had seen was correct.
At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I can assure you that the change in vision from before to after feels remarkably different. Sure there was clarity with artificial lenses, but the vision was very harsh, distorted and two-dimensional. The world was also a very frightening and threatening place; the strain and adaptation required to see through powerful, rigid glasses under constantly varying lighting conditions throughout each day took such a physical and psychological toll. Experiencing good vision the way nature intended is a sight to behold! I marvel at the true depth perception, shimmering colors and vivid textures--to actually have the sensation that I’m fully immersed in my surroundings, and not just a spectator. My natural vision at its clearest moments brings about a relaxed, euphoric and blissful state of body and mind that I never before knew was possible. Stumbling upon the road of vision improvement has been a blessing and a multifaceted adventure. Most of all, it’s been a liberating journey.
Doug Marsh, a professional engineer and vision educator, has extensively studied natural vision improvement and the mind/body interface as it relates to eyesight. The natural Taoist approach has greatly reduced his nearsightedness while also relieving the symptoms of a TMJ/inner-ear disorder. Most days he experiences brief, spontaneous “flashes” of near 20/20 eyesight, an encouraging sign that his vision continues to heal. He lives in Canada.
“Doug Marsh gives a truly fresh approach to the holistic components that lead to successful improvement of vision. The vital connection between life’s rhythm, the conscious flow of spirit, and the efficient functioning of the visual system is correctly portrayed.”
– Roberto Kaplan, O.D., author of Seeing Without Glasses and Conscious Seeing
"Doug Marsh’s obviously deep understanding of the Tao illuminates the most interesting aspects of Dr Bates work. This is one of the best books on Natural Vision Improvement I have read, and I will recommend it to all my vision students!"
– Elizabeth Abraham, co-founder of the Vision Educator Training Institute
“Taoist readers will wonder how they missed applying these principles to their suboptimal eyesight. It's clear from this book that the Bates method is not so terribly isolated and unique, but in tune with an impressive variety of research, both historical and modern."
– Dave Kiesling, director and founder of www.iblindness.org, dedicated to the Bates Method
"Restoring Your Eyesight helps readers better understand how the eyes are strained and affected by aspects of modern urban life, such as sedentary and demanding school systems, strain from long work hours and lack of rest for the constantly bombarded eyes. An excellent and highly recommended read for anyone frustrated with their increasing dependence on corrective lenses or who wishes to take control of their vision health."
– Jill DeDominicis, Vision Magazine, Mar 2007
"Here's a natural alternative to improving eyesight which blends Taoism with an eye doctor's exercises and insights, discussing reflexes, concentration, and re-training the eye. An intriguing approach for a long-standing problem."
– The Midwest Book Review, Mar 2007
"The weaving of simple, but profound, Taoist understanding with the cruel realities of contemporary scientific folly and the brillilant but neglected work of Bates on how to achieve normal, healthy eyesight defines the character of Restoring Your Eyesight: A Taoist Approach."