Last Thursday I began the tale of healing my head and mentioned Dr. Harry Sirota. He was an optometrist and created an amazing methodology for working with vision. I’m providing links below to a couple of articles that describe his work in more detail than I’m providing. I just want to talk about what I recall from my visits with him, starting in 1987.
The first visit with him lasted between three and four hours and every visit lasted at least two. He evaluated me and my movements and my life and what affected my vision to a depth I couldn’t have imagined. Dr. Sirota believed that near-sightedness begins with emotional trauma. The muscles behind the eyes tighten around the emotion and the pull on the eyes changes the shape of the cornea. But there’s so much more to his work. By the time I got to Dr. Harry he’d been working so long on his ideas and knowledge about the relationship between vision and emotions and physical being that it was like visiting a psychic/shrink/ eye doctor.
I’d sit in the chair and he’d gaze over and announce, “You had trouble with your father about ____ didn’t you?” I’d look up in surprise and he’d say something like, “the way you’re holding your left leg….” As he worked on the prescription he’d put some lenses in the test glasses and have me walk forwards and backwards. “Mm, you’re throwing your left foot out to the side.” He’d change a lens and suddenly my feet straightened.
I walked backward and reached my hand toward a hanger. “You’re not really seeing where the center is….” Change lens, try again, change lens and suddenly I could walk backwards and touch the hanger in the center. By the time he decided on a final prescription my whole body would be moving differently and I’d feel more calm. Your eyes relate to so much in your body and so much about how you feel in your skin it’s amazing.
One key to his method was prescriptions that were reduced quite a bit from the 20/20 required by most optometrists. The strong prescription that is the norm creates tension so the muscles behind your eyes tighten more and the near-sightedness actually grows worse over time. It also causes your whole body to be more tense. When I put on my first pair of glasses from him the sense of relief was immense.
The first time I went up on the el wearing my new glasses I could no longer read the signs on the other side. A week later I went off on a seven day cruise. When I came back my eyes had already relaxed so much that I could see the signs clearly—and feel the tension creeping back. Three weeks after I got the first pair he was giving me a new prescription. By the time I moved to California in 1991 I’d been through a number of reduced prescriptions and Dr. Sirota finally told me that he couldn’t reduce it any more. I’d have to do eye exercises and address the emotional issues in order to get any farther. I don’t think either of us realized how arduous a journey I faced from there (another story for another day) but Dr. Sirota’s revolutionary work not only changed my vision but profoundly impacted my life.
He couldn’t get the optometry community to listen to him but psychologists took an interest and he was invited all over the world to speak about his work. When he worked with a prison all kinds of behavior issues were resolved after inmates received his care for their eyes. The last I knew he had never found anyone in the vision care world who wanted to be trained in his work but he lived and continued working for many years after I moved, so I don’t know whether someone stepped up to the plate.
If you or someone you know is near-sighted I highly recommend that you read the two articles below. Sadly Dr. Sirota died last year so you can’t work with him but there are other vision therapists out there and a few people who are incorporating his work in other healing modalities.