The School for Perfect Eyesight at Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry was established decades ago, on May 5, 1968, at the efforts of an ophthalmologist, Late Dr. Raghubir Sharan Agarwal, a staunch disciple of the renowned spiritual leader Sri Aurobindo.
Dr. R. S. Agarwal laid his life towards the upliftment of human misery through the practices of allopathic medicine but later while in pursuit of disambiguation, he got deep into the philosophies of naturopathy and had to abandon the concept of allopathic cures that he acquired through his studies as a doctor. This moved him close to yoga and the principles laid down by Dr. William Horatio Bates. Doctor R. S. Agarwal is also the author of a couple of books, the pertinent among them on vision improvement are Mind and Vision and Yoga of Perfect Sight. (Find paperbacks of Mind and Vision and Yoga of Perfect Sight.)
His son, Dr. Jaiveer Agarwal, later founded the renowned Dr. Agarwal’s Group of Eye Hospitals and is currently run by his successors.
Up on arrival, we were received at the reception by Ms. Santosh. After going through Rahul’s history and the doctor’s prescription, Rahul was evaluated for the treatment/training that he need to undergo. Rahul struggled to read the last 2-3 lines on the Snellen chart with naked eyes at a distance of 1-1/2 to 2 feet.
He was advised to take up sun treatment; palming; acupressure and massage around the eyes, fingers, and toes; swaying sideways behind vertical bars; game of ball; game of cards; distant chart reading; and applying vapor and cold packs around the eyes along with the following set of instructions:
Outstation patients have to take up a training of 14 sessions in 7 working days at the rate of 2 sessions a day, one in the morning and the other in the evening. Monday is weekly holiday. (See the details of working hours.) Localites have only a session a day, spanning 14 working days.
While preparing the curriculum, the School has capsulated all the goodies of William Bates method, yoga, acupuncture, and Dr. Agarwal’s own methods that he researched, developed and tried when practicing as an eye specialist. Depending upon the patient’s needs, only the capsules vary! However, it is significant to note at this point that none of the current instructors at the School have no medical or optometric credentials but are just Bates’ practitioners. They are just propagating the methods that have been taught to them by Late Dr. R. S. Agarwal. Find below the exercises in detail that were recommended to Rahul.
First of all, a drop of saline water, rosewater, or honey is applied to each eye depending up on the patient. This provides the soothing effect and/or provides an antibacterial effect depending up on the drop that has been applied. Rahul was advised to have saline water drops.
Sun treatment is an important exercise, and the School is recommending everybody to practice it. The right way to do this exercise is to sit or stand facing the sun with the eyes closed allowing the sun to shine directly on the closed eyelids and then swing the body gently from side to side like a pendulum for two to five minutes. Morning and evening are the best times for sun treatment. (This treatment becomes more effective and gives better results if a drop of honey is applied to each eye before sun treatment. It also relieves strain and pain more quickly.)
To stimulate the acupoints around the eyes and nerve endings around fingers and toes, gentle pressure is applied with fingers around the eyes up to the ears and around fingers and toes. This produces a massage effect and refreshes the muscles and nerves around the eyes. It is easy to do and anybody can do it to refresh themselves and to increase the blood flow.
Palming is another most important exercise that the School recommends that all should practice to get relief from eye pain and fatigue. Palming is done by covering the closed eyes with the palms of the hands, the fingers being crossed upon the forehead, so that no light passes through. (Take care to avoid pressure either on the eyes or on the nose.) This produces total darkness, a perfect black, in the covered eyes giving rest to the eyes and is done for about 5 to 15 minutes. The School advises children to do palming regularly, so that they can read a lot and do their studies better. If it is done often, it is one of the best methods for relieving strain and discomfort and gives relaxation.
Dr. Agarwal observed that myopic patients improve their sight and are cured more quickly by standing near a window and swaying, looking off in the distance at large objects or the background behind the bars. The patient stands behind the vertical bars (window) with the feet 12 inches apart and sways gently from side to side like a pendulum looking beyond through the bars focusing on a distant object, and blinking at each end of the swing. This exercise trains the eyes to focus on distant as well as near objects at the same time. In doing this swing, the nearer objects appear to be moving in the opposite direction while the farther objects appear to move in the same direction. It should be done for five to ten minutes.
The game of ball is aimed at improving the accommodation capacity of the eyes and encourages to develop the blinking habit. It is done either by throwing the ball from one hand to the other or by bouncing the ball on the floor from one hand and catching the ball on the other hand; the former being “inverted U” type and the latter being “V” type. One should follow the ball’s movements and blink after each catch. This should be done for ten minutes. If a child likes to play for a longer period, it should be allowed to do so. After practicing for several days, the vision improves, giving full relaxation. It is to be noted that all can practice this exercise.
This exercise done with playing cards is again about training your eyes to blink frequently apart from equipping the eyes to compare and match identical objects and colors in dim light. Each card from the pack is compared against each card spread on the table in three rows and six columns while taking care to blink after comparing every card. The trip stops once a card is matched or passed and starts again with the next card from the pack. Though it seems quite easy, it needs time and patience. It helps the eyes focus and distinguish minute details on two different objects at the same time. This exercise is generally recommended for patients with higher diopters of shortsightedness.
It is Dr. Bates’ observation that daily reading of the Snellen test card proved to be an effective method to prevent and cure errors of refraction and other eye troubles. Hence every home should have a Snellen test card hung on the wall in good light with every member of the family or household reading the card everyday, 15 to 20 feet away from the card depending upon one’s comfort level. A 5-minute practice is enough to deliver good results.
It is in this exercise where the memory becomes a help to the eyes. Two identical Snellen cards are used. One of them is hung on the wall at a comfortable distance while you hold the other card in your hands. Start reading the distant Snellen chart hung on the wall and blink after reading each alphabet. While reading downwards, when an alphabet becomes invisible, you look at the chart in the hand and then keep the eyes closed for half a minute. Then with gentle blinking, you look at the distant chart and try to make out the letter without straining or squinting. After some time, with the help of the memory, you will be able to visualize the letter and the distant objects, which you were previously unable to see.
To apply vapor to your eyelids, as you do in facial sauna, a bowl of water is heated to form steam and a few drops of eucalyptus oil are dropped in. Lean over the bowl and blink in the rising vapor for a minute or two. The moist heat emitted from the facial sauna causes the vessels to dilate, allowing increased blood flow to the facial vessels, thus producing a rejuvenating effect.
A cold pack placed on the eye gives soothing effect and helps relieve tired eyes. To apply the cold pack on the eyes, take two clean cotton swabs or handkerchiefs, dip them in ordinary cold water, and place them over the closed eyes. Leave them like that for ten minutes and enjoy the chillness. (Those suffering from sinus troubles should avoid taking the cold pack.)
The other activities and exercises that are there on the School’s curriculum but were not advised to Rahul include washing of eyes, reading fine print in candlelight, practice on fundamentals, practice on C chart, auto-focusing/white spaces, candle concentration, practice on Pot-Hook card, spiral/diamond, occulo vibrator, practice on dial chart, circular reading/dot, practice on Om chart, eye movements, kaleidoscope, hi-square/owl eyes/cat ex., beads string/v. window, binoscope, color plates, UB reading, pumping, and cam stimulator. Most of these are detailed in Dr. Agarwal’s book, Mind and Vision.
One of the basic but most important underlying aspect that the School For Perfect Eyesight trains anybody enrolled is developing the habit of blinking frequently which we are forgetting to do in this age of television, mobile phones, and computer. (See computer vision syndrome.) Relaxation techniques; avoiding strain to the eyes; training the oblique muscles of the eye, the muscles of accommodation that are concerned with myopia, to work smoothly while looking at all directions; and to stay healthy with a healthy diet are the other skills and health tips advised to myopic patients.
The results are very much encouraging for Rahul (age 6 years 10 months) if you compare his previous short-sight scores. See the chart below for his test score after undergoing the training session for a week.
He has a drop of 1.5 diopters in his right eye to -9.5 and a drop of 0.75 diopter in his left eye to -7.75 diopters at end of the training period of 14 sessions. My brother (age 38) too has a drop of 1 diopters in each eye. We expect further improvements to be slow and steady, but only with dedicated practice at home. After all, you cannot expect a sudden cure with alternative medicine. At the least, I hope to halt the progression of myopia until Rahul grows up to an adult and by that time new surgical techniques may become available to correct refractive errors beyond -10 diopters. In the mean time, I will update you with significant improvements, if any.
To conclude, the training turned out to be successful, and Rahul completed the training at ease. He was discharged with an advice to follow up in six months while the poster at the School reminded: “After undergoing training session at the School, all the exercises if done daily should help you keep the eyes healthy and bright. The End (of eye problems).” “Finally, it is faith that cures.”
After reading School For Perfect Eyesight reviews, you too might be tempted to practice the exercises; however, may find it impossible to drop at the School personally and hence would like to obtain information either from the Internet or through correspondence. However, the School doesn’t advocate correspondence treatment as the results are uncertain and there is always the possibility that the patient will not practice correctly the things which he/she is told to do. After all, the training program is completely free; it is only a matter of finding time. Since it involves your precious eyes, it is best in your interests to find time to visit the School for Perfect Eyesight.
(Note: School For Perfect Eyesight at Aurobindo Ashram and Aravind Eye Hospitals are in no way connected and are two entirely different entities, except that the promoter of Aravind Eye Hospitals, Dr. G. Venkataswamy, is a staunch follower of Sri Aurobindo, hence the hospitals named after him.)
PS: This is NOT a sponsored review or anything of that sort. I have been a beneficiary for my son, Rahul. I was in a dilemma without having a true insight earlier; hence I thought it would be appropriate to guide anyone in need with a true review of the exercises taught and the outcome, and hence this elaborate post.
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