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Optimal Aging: Slowing Down the Clock
A New Way of Seeing

Rosemary Gordon was nineteen years old and training as an orthoptist in London, when she was told in no uncertain terms, "Nothing can be done for nearsightedness except glasses or contact lenses." Years later, she found reason to challenge that assumption, and has since become a practitioner of the Bates Method for Vision Improvement. She speaks  here about her personal journey.

"An orthoptist is someone who does diagnostics and treatment for people whose eyes don't work together very well. So it might be for an eye turning in or out, or an eye rotating up or down. For example, if they've gotten a bang on the head and their vision has gone awry. And usually you work very closely with an ophthalmologist.

I had moved to Santa Fe and started a private practice in orthoptics, and I was also teaching hatha yoga at night. In the daytime, I was challenging people, 'Okay, come on, try harder, you can cross your eyes, come on, keep going.' But at night I was teaching people to relax their bodies and to let gravity show their bodies what to do. And I realized, 'These are in complete opposition to each other. I wonder which is right?' I became fascinated that the Bates method was really similar to yoga and the principles were almost identica l-- through relaxation the body heals itself."

After working with a Bates practitioner, Gordon, who had worn glasses since she was fourteen, was able to read the 20/20 line of an eye chart. That experience led her to make vision therapy through relaxation, her life's work.

"I also studied some psychotherapy because I realized emotions were playing a big part in vision loss. I would teach someone to palm, [a Bates technique where palms cover the eyes] and they would start crying, or there was a little girl who I taught how to palm, and she was scared stiff -- she was really scared of the dark. And I realized that I really needed to help people in this other way, so I decided to bring that into it too."

In 1981, Rosemary received a Masters Degree in Vision Therapy from Lesley College, Massachusetts. She treats adults and children in her private practice, and teaches workshops all over the world.

"I would just like to see people given more choices, and one of the wonderful things about this work is that you learn more about yourself and you learn more about how you interact with your visual world. I want people to have happy eyes."

Body & Soul is currently airing Monday-Friday at 7:00pm and 8:30pm on PBS YOU.

Program Description
A New Way of Seeing
Modern Aging
The Ageless Woman
Help Yourself
Tell Me More

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