Holistic Vision Educator:
A Fulfilling and Much-needed Career
Teaching How to Have Healthy Vision for a Lifetime
by Elizabeth Abraham
There are only a handful of Vision Educators in Canada, therefore the fact that people can improve their vision and learn to see more clearly is not well-known.
Vision is a learned skill. As healthy babies interact with their environment, their visual skills develop naturally and effortlessly. For a growing number of people however, the ability to see clearly at all distances does not continue for a life-time. At some point—for some in childhood, for others in teenage years, in early adulthood, or in their forties and beyond—vision becomes blurry. Just as good vision developed unconsciously, poor vision habits also develop unconsciously.
In order to return to clarity it is necessary to understand how the system is meant to function, and then consciously re-establish healthy seeing habits. This is the beneficial and exciting process of Holistic Vision Education as developed by Dr. William Bates, an ophthalmologist who practised in the US in the early 1900s.
Whether you are near-sighted, far-sighted, have astigmatism or eyes that do not work well together, your vision can improve if you learn how to give your eyes what they need. No matter what your age you can learn to lessen your dependence on prescription lenses, reduce eyestrain from reading or computer use, and return to relaxed, dynamic, and vibrant vision.
Since there are many aspects of healthy vision, Vision Educators often combine this teaching with other holistic health practices. Some examples are:
- When our bodies are well-hydrated and fed with fresh, nutrient-rich foods, our eyes and all our organs function better. Some Vision Educators are also Nutritional Consultants, Chinese Medicine or Ayurvedic Practitioners, Homeopaths, or Iridologists. Others provide information on good nutrition if they feel it is needed, or refer their students to professionals in the field.
- When we are getting the right balance of exercise and relaxation, circulation improves in the whole body—-including the eyes. When the muscles of the rest of the body are tight, it is difficult for the eyes to let go of their tension. Many people who want to improve their vision are used to a sedentary lifestyle and need help in learning to become more physically aware. Vision Educators often teach Yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais Awareness through Movement, or the Alexander Technique, as well as Vision Education. They might also recommend aerobic exercises or Rebounding as a way of improving circulation and physical health.
- Dr. Bates was very interested in the role that the mind plays in the process of seeing. Healthy eyes are connected to a curious, interested mind. The mind interprets the images of light that are reflected into the eyes, and needs to be receptive in order for vision to be clear. It is true that "we are what we think". Anxiety and stressful thoughts play havoc with the body by upsetting the chemical balance and disturbing natural functioning. As part of the journey of vision improvement we need to find ways to calm and centre the mind/body. Vision Educators often do some form of bodywork—Traeger, massage therapy, Trigger Point Therapy, or energy work, or refer to those who do. Others might teach their vision students t'ai chi, yoga, meditation, focusing, educational kinesiology, and other techniques that relax and bring balance to the central nervous system.
Skilled Vision Educators help their students discover the aspects of healthy vision on which they need to focus, and support them in their learning process.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was a Holistic Vision Educator in every community, if parents and teachers knew how to help children maintain their healthy vision for a lifetime, if older people knew that they could prevent a lot of the vision deterioration they have come to expect by paying attention to the needs of their eyes?
Since Vision Education is so new in Canada, those who embark on this career are on the leading edge of helping to change the current paradigm of vision care in this country. They can enjoy a fascinating and satisfying career, and improve their own vision as they help others do the same.
Elizabeth Abraham, founder of the Vision Education Centre in Toronto and co-founder of the Vision Educator Training Institute, has been teaching people to take care of their eyes since 1991. She uses a holistic approach which includes Movement Re-education and Focusing, as well as the Bates Method of Vision Education. She can be reached at (416) 599-9202 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for lessons or to register for workshops. For information on the upcoming Vision Educator Training that Elizabeth Abraham and Rosemary Gaddum Gordon will be teaching in Toronto beginning in March 2007 visit www.visioneducators.com or contact Elizabeth directly.