Visions of Joy - Natural Eyesight Improvement - Vision Education
The School of Optimal Eyesight
Improve your vision and overcome the need for glasses or contacts while avoiding laser surgery

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About Esther

Esther Joy van der Werf's personal vision history
My eyesight was perfect when I was a child; but my vision changed at the age of 18 when I was Esther Joy van der Werfin business college in The Netherlands, where I grew up.  When my parents noticed my excessive squinting as I tried to read TV subtitles, I had to have my eyes tested by an optometrist, who promptly prescribed a pair of glasses for nearsightedness. 
I hoped these glasses would make me look more intelligent....
No such luck...  

I didn't particularly like wearing the glasses.  They made me feel like I was no longer part of the whole picture, instead they gave me the impression of being a mere observer of the world around me.  The glasses really seemed more of an obstacle than a help to me.  So I cunningly 'lost' them, to the dismay of my parents.
In my mid-twenties I tried eye-exercises from a book about the Bates Method.  Alas, I did not have enough discipline to stick with the exercises for very long, and I did not notice any improvement.  So I got used to the blur and made do with this slightly deteriorated visual acuity for sixteen years.

Esther Joy van der Werf 

Learning about health
My first introduction to holistic health came in 1991 when I read the book Fit for Life written by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond.  That led me to learn more about the science of health, especially the effect of diet on health.  Studying health was a proverbial 'eye-opening' experience for me, and it caused a major change of direction in my life.  In 1998 I decided to leave my well-paid NATO job in Germany and I began traveling, in search for something more healthful to do.  

In 1999 I attended a health expo in San Francisco, where I met Tom Quackenbush, author of Relearning to See.  I was very skeptical about natural vision improvement due to my previous failed attempt with eye exercises, but Tom told me the Bates Method was not about eye exercises at all.  His book intrigued me, and I wondered if by reading it I could perhaps keep my eyesight from getting worse.  If I could remain at my slightly blurry level of 20/50 vision, I reasoned, then I could avoid needing glasses for the rest of my life.  So, I invested in Tom's book, and threw it in the back of my van where it stayed with the rest of my belongings which accompanied me on my nomadic journey.

Improving my eyesight
It was several months later, during a 14 day water-only fast, when I finally took time to read Tom's book.  I was living in Costa Rica at that time, a country well known for its natural beauty.  To my amazement and delight this natural beauty increased as my eyesight improved by following the suggestions outlined in Relearning to See.  The abundant flowers became even more colorful than before, and my clarity improved to 20/20.  This happened within just two weeks. This method seemed to work!  And it really didn't involve any eye-exercises.  Wow.  Not only could I maintain my visual acuity, but I was actually able to improve it!  I was thrilled with my renewed vision.

My first student
These quick results caused me to ask my friend Ted to join me in an eyesight experiment.  Ted was much more nearsighted than I was; he used glasses a lot for seeing in the distance.  I challenged him to go without his glasses for a trial period of one week.  He hesitantly agreed, and I hid his glasses to make sure he wouldn't cheat.

We checked his current visual acuity with an eye-chart.  I was astonished that he could not even read the large top letter from 20 feet away.  So his vision was worse than 20/200 (or worse than 6/60 or 10% in European numbers).  Not letting that discourage us, we went through the book together, discussed its contents, and began to apply the newly learned natural vision habits on a daily basis.  We were both amazed with the improvements he made.  Four weeks after handing me his glasses, he was still not using them, not even missing them, he could read the top 4 lines of the eye-chart, and began to be able to read the 5th line (20/50 acuity).  In my enthusiasm I sent a "Thank you!" e-mail to Tom Quackenbush, at the same time expressing my interest in learning more about natural vision improvement.  A few months later I was enrolled in Tom's Teacher Training Program.

Further personal progress
During the Teacher Training Program (Summer of 2000) I discovered that my left eye was amblyopic, meaning that I favored my right eye for seeing.  My brain basically ignored the picture coming in through the left eye.  So I had some 'unlearning' to do, and the muscles around my eyes were at times sore as they slowly gave up the tension that I had held there for so long.
By the end of Tom's training my visual acuity had progressed to 20/15, better than average, and my mental approach to vision became much more relaxed.  A few years later, in the Summer of 2003, my left eye somehow 'woke up' and I was suddenly able to see depth.  I realized I had never before seen the 'spaces' between things of different distances the way most people see it.  This wonderful new 3-D vision was an enormous thrill to me!  

While teaching an eyesight class in October 2005 I checked my own distance acuity and was very happy to read the 20/10 line.  Another check in January 2006 confirmed it holding steady at 20/10.  I am delighted with my current eyesight, and look forward to improving even further.

Found my mission
As part of the teacher training I found some more friends who willingly let me practice my teaching skills on them.  Their improvements added to my enthusiasm for this work and I realized I had found my purpose in life.  I have been teaching natural eyesight improvement ever since my certification, and derive great pleasure from my new life's mission.

In 2003 and 2004 I undertook further training in natural eyesight improvement with Dr. Marc Grossman, OD, a behavioral optometrist in New Paltz, NY. 
In the spring of 2007 I had the privilege of working two weeks with Dr. Neal Apple, MD, an ophthalmologist in Silver City, New Mexico.  Following Dr. Apple around in his daily work with patients gave me deeper insights into the eye, which I have really appreciated. 
Although I don't yet know everything there is to know about natural vision, I do strongly believe that what I do know needs to be shared with the world.  The message that eyesight can be improved in a natural way should reach all those many people who are fed up with their glasses and wish they could see better without them, but do not yet know that this risk-free possibility exists.

I have since become a well-known Bates Method expert with three books in print, and I am regularly asked to speak at vision conferences. I presented a workshop at the International Holistic Vision Conference (IHVC) in Spa, Belgium, in 2009 and gave the closing speech at that conference. This resulted in an invitation to give a keynote lecture at the British Natural Eyesight Conference (BNEC) in London, England, in 2010 and 2012. Invitations followed to speak at many IHVC conferences, such as Milano, Italy (2011 and 2013), Madrid, Spain in 2015 and Frankfurt, Germany, 2019. I organized the 2nd Professional Conference of the Association of Vision Educators which took place in Pacific Palisades, California, in May 2015 and this led to speaking at the AVE conferences in Boulder, Colorado (2016) and Oregon (2018).
Check my travel plans and schedule for more events.
See lectures & workshops for information on what I like to talk about.

I give group classes and teach private lessons in many places, mainly in the USA but also in The Netherlands and Italy.  People from all over the world take lessons with my via Zoom.
I just as happily teach individual private sessions as I do groups, whether 6, 60 or more people.  Many people experience clearer vision in the first hour of practicing better eyesight habits with me.  (Please read the testimonials of people with better vision)

Breathing added to the vision
Our eyes need oxygen to function best, and learning relaxed deep breathing is a great asset to vision as well as life in general.  In 2004 I experienced major improvements in my breathing after working with Mike White.  Since my training with this amazing breathing coach, I have expanded my classes by adding his very effective Optimal Breathing Development© techniques. 

Visions of Joy
It still amazes me how few people are aware of the option of natural eyesight improvement.  All that most of us know is that when our eyesight deteriorates, we can choose between either (stronger) glasses, or becoming a guinea pig for the currently popular laser surgery industry.  It is my mission to increase public awareness of our natural option.  This is why 'Visions of Joy' came about.  I have great passion for this work - through this website and by offering a variety of eyesight improvement classes I aim to help you get out of lenses!

I encourage you to use this website as a resource, and please check out the other vision educators sites too.  The teachers listed there all have a similar goal of helping people to better eyesight naturally, however, many of us have developed slightly varying ways to achieve that goal.  Feel free to try out the various approaches and find what suits your needs.
Esther Joy van der Werf- Photo taken by Jesse Fleming, Gray Light Studio, LA

Evaluate everything, and keep the good. 
Enjoy your path to clarity!

                  with love,
       Esther Joy van der Werf

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I was certified as a Natural Vision Educator by the Natural Vision Center (NVC) in August of 2000 in San Francisco, California.  I am a board member of the Association of Vision Educators in the USA and am on the faculty of Vision Educators Training Institute.
I'm also an Optimal Breathing ® Development Specialist, trained by Michael Grant White in 2004.  
In 2006 I trained with Dennis Lewis, author of Free Your Breath, Free Your Life, and The Tao of Natural Breathing, and I am certified to teach his Authentic Breathing™ techniques. 

I am a teacher, not a doctor
Let me make clear that I am purely a teacher - I am not an ophthalmologist, an optometrist, or a medical doctor, therefore I do not diagnose nor prescribe, but I do love to educate.  I do not diagnose or treat any eye or lung diseases, nor do I prescribe corrective lenses.  When I talk about what I would do if I had specific eyesight or breathing problems, it is up to you whether or not you decide to try something similar for the benefit of your eyes or lungs.  In that regard, please read the disclaimer.

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