The Doctor's Story - Better Eyesight, September 1919, Editor: W. H.Bates, M.D.

Discussion in 'Optometry Archives' started by Zetsu, Apr 7, 2009.

  1. Zetsu

    Zetsu Guest

    [...The Doctor's Story

    One of the most striking cases of the relation of mind to vision that
    ever came to my attention was that of a physician whose mental
    troubles, at one time so serious that they suggested to him the idea
    that he might be going insane, were completely relieved when his sight
    became normal. He had been seen by many eye and nerve specialists
    before he came to me and consulted me at last, not because he had any
    faith in my methods, but because nothing else seemed to be left for
    him to do. He brought with him quite a collection of glasses
    prescribed by different men, no two of them being alike. He had worn
    glasses, he told me, for many months at a time without benefit, and
    then he had left them off and had been apparently no worse. Outdoor
    life had also failed to help him. On the advice of some prominent
    neurologists he had even given up his practice for a couple of years
    to spend the time upon a ranch, but the vacation had done him no good.

    I examined his eyes and found no organic defects and no error of
    refraction. Yet his vision with each eye was only three-fourths of the
    normal, and he suffered from double vision and all sorts of unpleasant
    symptoms. He used to see people standing on their heads, and little
    devils dancing on the tops of the high buildings. He also had other
    illusions too numerous to mention in a short paper. At night his sight
    was so bad that he had difficulty in finding his way about, and when
    walking along a country road he believed that he saw better when he
    turned his eyes far to one side and viewed the road with the side of
    the retina instead of with the center. At variable intervals, without
    warning and without loss of consciousness, he had attacks of
    blindness. These caused him great uneasiness, for he was a surgeon
    with a large and lucrative practice, and he feared that he might have
    an attack while operating.

    His memory was very poor. He could not remember the color of the eyes
    of any member of his family, although he had seem them all daily for
    years. Neither could he recall the color of his house, the number of
    rooms on the different floors, or other details. The faces and names
    of patients and friends he recalled with difficulty, or not at all.

    His treatment proved to be very difficult, chiefly because he had an
    infinite number of erroneous ideas about physiological optics in
    general and his own case in particular, and insisted that all these
    should be discussed; while these discussions were going on he received
    no benefit. Every day for hours at a time over a long period he talked
    and argued. Never have I met a person whose logic was so wonderful, so
    apparently unanswerable, and yet so utterly wrong.

    His eccentric fixation was of such high degree that when he looked at
    a point forty-five degrees to one side of the big C on the Snellen
    test card, he saw the letter just as black as when he looked directly
    at it. The strain to do this was terrific, and produced much
    astigmatism; but the patient was unconscious of it, and could not be
    convinced that there was anything abnormal in the symptom. If he saw
    the letter at all, he argued, he must see it as black as it really
    was, because he was not color-blind. Finally he became able to look
    away from one of the smaller letters on the card and see it worse than
    when he looked directly at it. It took eight or nine months to
    accomplish this, but when it had been done the patient said that it
    seemed as if a great burden had been lifted from his mind. He
    experienced a wonderful feeling of rest and relaxation throughout his
    whole body.

    When asked to remember black with his eyes closed and covered he said
    he could not do so, and he saw every color but the black which one
    ought normally to see when the optic nerve is not subject to the
    stimulus of light. He had, however, been an enthusiastic football
    player at college, and he found at last that he could remember a black
    football. I asked him to imagine that this football had been thrown
    into the sea and that it was being carried outward by the tide,
    becoming constantly smaller but no less black. This he was able to do,
    and the strain floated with the football, until, by the time the
    latter had been reduced to the size of a period in a newspaper, it was
    entirely gone. The relief continued as long as he remembered the black
    spot, but as he could not remember it all the time, I suggested
    another method of permanent relief. This was to make his sight
    voluntarily worse, a plan against which he protested with considerable
    "Good heavens!" he said, "Is not my sight bad enough without making
    it worse."

    After a week of argument, however, he consented to try the method, and
    the result was extremely satisfactory. After he had learned to see two
    or more lights where there was only one, by straining to see a point
    above the light while still trying to see the light as well as when
    looking directly at it, he became able to avoid the unconscious strain
    that had produced his double and multiple vision and was not troubled
    by these superfluous images any more. In a similar manner other
    illusions were prevented.

    One of the last illusions to disappear was his belief that an effort
    was required to remember black. His logic on this point was
    overwhelming, but after many demonstrations he was convinced that no
    effort was required to let go, and when he realized this, both his
    vision and his mental condition immediately improved.

    He finally became able to read 20/10 or more, and although more than
    fifty-five years of age, he also read diamond type at from six to
    twenty-four inches. His night blindness was relieved, his attacks of
    day blindness ceased, and he told me the color of the eyes of his wife
    and children. One day he said to me:
    "Doctor, I thank you for what you have done for my sight; but no
    words can express the gratitude I feel for what you have done for my

    Some years later he called with his heart full of gratitude, because
    there had been no relapse...]
    Zetsu, Apr 7, 2009
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  2. Zetsu

    Neil Brooks Guest

    Still can't muster an original thought, huh?

    That doesn't speak well of you....
    Neil Brooks, Apr 7, 2009
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