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The School of Optimal Eyesight
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About Dr. Bates' book
Perfect Sight Without Glasses 

For true Bates aficionados...

perfect sight without glasses bookA Brilliant Book
Perfect Sight Without Glasses (PSWG) is a brilliant book written by an eye-surgeon for the masses.  In it, Dr. Bates tackles the paradigm of prescribing glasses for all functional vision problems, and offers a new, natural way to regain and keep visual clarity.  

PSWG was the first book of its kind, and Dr. Bates was a true pioneer in his field of ophthalmology.  Many other books have since been published on the subject of natural vision improvement, and the authors usually draw much from Dr. Bates' techniques.  Rightfully so, of course, although I think few of the subsequent books were written with Dr. Bates' in-depth understanding of how the eyes perform best.  

The First Editions of Perfect Sight Without Glasses
I have three different 'first' editions (or different print runs) of Dr. Bates' original book Perfect Sight Without Glasses.  According to the copyright date listed in the front of the book, it was first published in 1920.  All three editions list only that date, and all are hardcover books bound in leather.  One of these three editions has a red-brown color cover, one has a maroon cover, and one is green.  

I do not know for sure which is the true first edition, but there are a few major clues:

1.  In the September 1927 issue of Dr. Bates' magazine Better Eyesight, I found:

The new edition of "Perfect Sight Without Glasses," by W. H. Bates is now on sale at this address and all leading book stores.  Those who were unable to procure the book while our stock was exhausted will receive prompt delivery.  Bound in green leather and embossed in gold.  $3.00 prepaid.  

  (underscore added)

2.  That edition in the green cover was done by "Burr Printing House" in New York (as shown on the copyright page) while the maroon edition was done by "Press of Thos. B. Brooks, Inc." also in New York, and the red-brown edition has no printer listed.  Incidentally, Emily Lierman's book Stories from the Clinic, published in 1926, was printed by "Press of Thos. B. Brooks, Inc."

3.  There is a major difference between the green cover book and the red-brown and maroon books.  
It is in the sample of photographically reduced print on page 195.  The red-brown and maroon cover versions have the article The Menace of Large Print in 4 columns.  (This article was also published in Better Eyesight magazine of December 1919).  The green cover edition, on the contrary, shows 4 pages of the book itself (pages 59, 98, 66 and 83 are reprinted side by side). 

4.  The print quality of the photographically reduced print differs considerably.  It is poorest in the red-brown book, better but not great in the maroon book, and best in the green book.  
Overall print quality of text and photos in the rest of the book shows similar quality differences between the three editions, with the red-brown being quite readable but of poorest overall print quality, the maroon book slightly better, and the green edition being the clearest.

5.  The layout of the pages in the red-brown book is slightly different from both the others.  The pages do not have the double line at the top, just underneath the page heading and page number.  The point of page break is also slightly different, even though the total number of pages is the same.  

6.  I noticed that page 41 of the red-brown edition had a minor typo in the header, making two words out of 'inactive': "OBLIQUE MUSCLES IN ACTIVE: NO ACCOMMODATION" which is corrected in the other editions which have: "Oblique Muscles Inactive: No Accommodation".

7.  Figure 47 on page 189 demonstrates looking directly at the sun without discomfort.  In the red-brown edition it is a close up of the side of a woman's face; in the other editions it is a picture of a mother and child.  (Thanks to Daniel M for pointing this out.)

So, putting these facts together, I think the red-brown edition was the true first edition in 1920 (no printer listed, lower print quality).  Bates improved on that version with the maroon second run (no print date available, but likely between 1921 and 1925) which he had printed by 'Press of Thos. B. Brooks, Inc', but which only marginally improved on the quality of the print.  When that print ran out he decided to change the fine print text and subsequently brought out the green cover books and had them printed by Burr Printing House.  Bates made sure they got it right...  Third time lucky.

That's my thinking on this 'triple first edition' matter!  For what it's worth... ;-)

February 2012 Note: I now have another copy of the very first edition which, instead of having a red-brown cover, is maroon in color. The red-brown copy is likely just discolored from aging.

February 2019 Note: I had heard of an earlier version (1918) of Bates' book, but had never seen one and wasn't confident this was true. Then I spotted a reference to it in Margaret Corbett's first book: Help Yourself to Better Sight. (Prentice Hall, 1949). In her introduction to that book, on page xiii, she writes: "Since the publication of Dr. Bates' book, Better Eyesight Without Glasses, in 1918, many books have been written on the subject, ...". The footnote on that page mentions this 1918 book was published by Henry Holt & Co., Inc. Hmmm, 1918?! So there WAS an earlier book! I contacted my colleague Christopher Lane in South Africa who had mentioned this book to me before. He had seen it, it belonged to a friend's grandfather. He thought this 1918 book was considered to be too controversial, and was put under a non-distribution order until Bates took out some offending chapters. That might explain why he changed to self-publishing two years later in order to get the word out. If you happen to have a 1918 book by Bates called Better Eyesight Without Glasses, please do NOT throw it away!! Please contact me, and I will personally come visit you to have a look at it!!!

The Cure of Imperfect Sight by Treatment Without Glasses
In the Better Eyesight magazines Dr. Bates' book is most often referred to as Perfect Sight Without Glasses, yet, it is twice listed as having the title The Cure of Imperfect Sight without Glasses.   

the treatment of imperfect sight without glasses dustjacketIn the article A Study of the Imagination Bates refers to his book as The Cure of Imperfect Sight without Glasses.   (According to a reference in Better Eyesight magazine of October 1925, this article was published in the Allied Medical Journal, but so far I have not been able to find the exact date of publication.) 

The same title was referred to by Kathleen Hurty in Better Eyesight magazine of May 1923 in which she writes about a talk on 6 April 1923 given by Dr. Bates to 25 high school teachers, practically all of whom "had read The Cure of Imperfect Sight Without Glasses..."

An explanation for this 'double title' is found on the dust-jacket which some books still have. The title printed on the spine of the dust-jacket is "Perfect Sight Without Glasses" which is followed by the name "Bates". Yet on front of the dust-jacket at the top it reads: "The Cure of Imperfect Sight by Treatment Without Glasses", followed by the author's name and a few paragraphs with information about the auther and about the book's contents.

The 1940 reprint - Perfect Sight Without Glasses
In 1940, nearly a decade after Dr. Bates died, his wife Emily Bates re-published PSWG, once again using Burr Printing House in New York and retaining the green leather cover with gold lettering of the title and author's last name on the front and spine.  It says this is the ninth printing.  Emily made no changes to the original content but added a few items to this 1940 edition.  

The book came with a cream colored dust-jacket similar to the one shown above. Instead of The Central Fixation Publishing Co, New York, it has Emily A. Bates, Publisher with her address as 20 Park Avenue, New York City.   

The first interesting addition inside the book is a certificate and a letter from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta Georgia, showing that the book Perfect Sight Without Glasses has been accepted for inclusion in the Crypt of Civilization, which intends to preserve it for future generations.  This crypt is located at the Phoebe Hearst Hall of the university.  In a way, it is a 'museum' of the 1930s which will supposedly remain sealed until the year 8113, so that the knowledge and information from this era may be preserved for future generations.  

As an aside, the publisher William Randolph Hearst was a prominent benefactor of Oglethorpe University, and his magazine Hearst's International carried Bates' article Throw Away Your Glasses in September 1923.

But back to the 1940 book:  A one-page eye-chart is included on page 310 of the book, with letter size equivalents ranging from 50ft to 2ft.  

The best part of this book is the new chapter 33 titled How to demonstrate the fundamental principles of treatment.  This chapter is a valuable addition for anyone who wants to work with the method on their own.

This 1940 edition finishes with a letter of appreciation of Dr. Bates written by Dr. Daniel A. Poling.

The 1943 reprint - Better Eyesight Without Glasses
In 1943 Emily published a much edited version of PSWG and the title reverted to Better Eyesight Without Glasses (BEWG).  It was once again printed by Henry Holt and Company in New York.  
I have a green colored hardback copy of this book from May 1944, with a cream and black dust-jacket, so the comments below relate to this 1944 edition.

BEWG does not have The Fundamental Principle page that PSWG begins with, yet BEWG does have the extra chapter at the end; now titled The Fundamental Principles of Treatment, which is more in-depth than PSWG's first page on that topic.  

BEWG does not include the original preface.  

Whereas PSWG had many photos and illustrations, BEWG has only one: a drawing of the eye and its muscles, which did not appear in PSWG.  

BEWG provides a full size eye-chart, which is a useful addition to any eyesight book.  

The following chapters from PSWG have been left out of BEWG.
Chapter 3, Evidence for the accepted theory of accommodation
Chapter 6, The truth about accommodation as demonstrated by clinical observations
Chapter 19, The relief of pain and other symptoms by the aid of the memory.
Chapter 25, Correspondence treatment
Chapter 28, The story of Emily
Chapter 30, Normal sight and the relief of pain for soldiers and sailors
Chapter 31, Letters from patients
Chapter 32, Reason and authority

Chapters 4 and 5 of PSWG are combined into one in BEWG.

Chapters 8 through 18 and 20 through 24 of PSWG are kept more or less the same in their essence in BEWG although various paragraphs have been cut out.  

The small print page (p195 in PSWG / between p126-127 in BEWG) is different.  
PSWG's Seven Truths of Normal Sight in diamond type font has been replaced by a part copy of page 1 of BEWG in 4.5 point type.  Even though the print size is only slightly enlarged, I think it is a shame that Emily moved away from the diamond type, and wonder why she might have done that.
Thankfully, the photographic type reduction does stay true to size, the only difference here between the two books being the actual text.  BEWG shows its own pages 2, 3, 4 and 5 reproduced here in 4 columns.

In PSWG's chapter 29, Mind and Vision, Bates attacks the "irrational and unnatural educational system" as being the fundamental reason for poor memory and poor eyesight in school children.  BEWG does not include this part of the chapter.  Overall, taking into account the various paragraphs and chapters omitted, BEWG has become a much 'milder' book; less controversial and perhaps therefore more popular. 

Throughout BEWG I notice that, in general, the wording has changed away from medical terms.  Where PSWG talked about 'patients', BEWG often replaces that with 'persons' or 'people'.  As another example, PSWG chapter 9's title, The Cause and Cure of Errors of Refraction was changed in BEWG to The Cause and Treatment of Errors of Refraction. 

These changes may have something to do with Margaret Corbett's court case at the end of 1940.  Mrs. Corbett was a Bates Method teacher in California who was charged with practicing optometry without a license.  She successfully defended her case and continued to teach, yet she became very careful about how she advertised her work, and she advised other teachers to use similar caution.  As Emily was not a doctor either, she may also have felt it was best to change the medical terms to non-medical terms.

Another change I noticed in chapter 7 of PSWG/chapter 4 BEWG, is that the number of school children examined was changed from twenty thousand to several thousand.  

perfect sight without glasses maroon cover book

Get a free download of the original 1920 edition of Perfect Sight Without Glasses, or buy an actual first edition hardcover Perfect Sight Without Glasses, of which I sometimes have a few in stock.

Further information?

As I said at the very top, this page is mainly for the true Bates aficionado.  If you are one (you must be, having read this far!) and you have further information about the various original editions of Perfect Sight Without Glasses or the 1918 edition of Better Eyesigiht Without Glasses (not the many reprints of BEWG after 1943), then please contact me; I very much look forward to talking with you!  

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