Article Date: 1/1/2003

Vision Care by Barnes & Noble
What happens when your patients are educated by consumer eyecare books?

One of my New Year's resolutions is to read more so I'm spending more time in book stores. There I've found a modest selection of books on eye care. However, my search on "eye care" at yielded 136 entries. Most, such as Primary Care for the Posterior Segment, are mainstream texts that probably wouldn't interest your patients. Others, related to herbs or yoga, just might capture their attention.

My point is not to criticize (or brag about my dedication to my resolution), but to bring these books to your attention. While most say they aren't a substitute for diagnosis or treatment by a doctor, they often suggest a do-it-yourself approach that patients might substitute for a visit to your office. I would argue that patients benefit from your expertise in evaluating any alternative solutions. Here's a sampling of these works:

Improve Your Vision Without Glasses or Contact Lenses: A New Program of Therapeutic Exercises by various authors. Excerpt: "What you're about to read will probably contradict much of what your eye doctor told you about your eyes and the way they should be treated." The title says the rest.

Relearning to See: Improve Your Eyesight Naturally by Thomas R. Quackenbush. This book advocates the use of the Bates method, relaxation techniques to correct any number of eye problems. (William H. Bates, M.D., founder of the method, has also published a book.) As I grew up watching the Marx Brothers, I must confess mixed feelings for health advice offered by someone named Quackenbush.

Natural Eyecare: An Encyclopedia by Marc Grossman, O.D., and Glen Swartwout, O.D. This book claims a "complementary, balanced approach" to Eastern and Western medicine that advocates herbs, homeopathy, acupressure and vision therapy to prevent and treat some common eye disorders. Both docs were trained in Chinese medicine.

Yoga for the Eyes by Meir Schneider. Mr. Schneider was born legally blind and today, after improving his sight holistically, drives a car without the use of eyeglasses or contact lenses. His approach in this video and booklet includes Tibetan yoga and the Bates method.

The final chapter

Many of these books include compelling testimonials. Some openly criticize the eyecare profession. While it would be unwise to categorically dismiss them all, it's safe to say that when patients read these, they seek an education. And that's an education best served by you.


Optometric Management, Issue: January 2003