The School For Perfect Eyesight Is One Of India’s Best Kept Secrets - Homegrown

The School For Perfect Eyesight Is One Of India’s Best Kept Secrets

Just off Pondicherry’s iconic seaside promenade, on the corner of Rue Lally Tollendal, I spotted a balcony full of people with tightly shut eyes, slowly swaying with their faces towards the sun. I knew I had found, The School For Perfect Eyesight, but my skepticism had reached a new level. Were these people blind? If so, wasn’t it a bit harsh to make them wait outside in the sun? Pessimistic predictions of how this institution preyed on the myopic permeated throughout my brain, but I still entered fueled by curiosity and the prospect of a tight whack from my editor if I didn’t turn in my story.

After wandering around the waiting room for a bit I saw an embroidered cloth sign with the words “Finally it is Faith that cures” stitched in the centre. My objectivity fluttered out the window like a hummingbird who had just scented nectar - I thought if all this school taught was ‘cross your fingers and maybe your eyesight will get better’, they were a cold and callous lot.

However, I still needed an interview to prove these so-called Ashram eyesight curers were as phony as the day is long. I finally caught hold of Mrs. Santush, an older woman from Pondicherry who had worked at The School For Perfect Eyesight for 37 years, and she agreed to sit down for an interview. After speaking with her for half an hour I realised never has an opinion of mine been more erroneous or changed so quickly.

The School For Perfect Eyesight is far from a scam. In retrospect I believe their name, albeit cutesy, is where many people’s doubts stem from. However, they do not promise you perfect eyesight. Very simply, this institution is like a gym for your eyes. As Mrs. Santush explained to me, “Whatever we teach is very simple, it’s the forming of good habits.”

Image credit: Julian Manning
Image credit: Julian Manning

Chockablock Bookings And Clients From Around The Globe

That is the end all, be all of their offerings, and patients seem extraordinarily happy with this mode of eye training therapy. In fact, the father of one of the young patients I spoke to told me they had to wait six months for an opening, and travelled all the way from Singapore for the school’s treatment. And when I asked him if it was worth it, he nodded with the enthusiasm of a bobble head doll, and eagerly explained to me the progress his daughter had made on the Snellen chart (an eye chart used to measure visual acuity). “First day on the chart, she could only read the first three lines. After three days of practice she can now read down to the bottom.” I was astounded as he continued extolling his daughter’s progress like any proud father would, “ her confidence in reading is very high now, before not so much, but now it’s very high.”

This fellow sounded like he received a clandestine paycheck from The School For Perfect Eyesight, yet not only was I explicitly told not to interact with the patients, but I had approached this man myself. Moreover, there is absolutely no reason to lie about the effectiveness of these treatment techniques as payment for the usually prescribed one week of classes is donation based. You can actually take these classes for absolutely no cost, although if you do have money small donations are encouraged. And if you need a place to stay Ashram guest houses are available for very reasonable rates.

Image credit: Julian Manning
Image credit: Julian Manning

Tried And True Techniques

The school’s methods are based on the principles of alternative therapy known as the Bates Method, first conceived in the late 19th century. The School for Perfect Eyesight was started in 1968 by Dr. R S Agarwal in association with the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The school’s therapy relies on simple relaxation techniques that are used to rejuvenate a patient’s eyes naturally. A few of the techniques taught at The School For Perfect Eyesight are: sun treatment, palming, ball exercises, reading fine print in candle light, distant chart reading, vapour treatment and eye massage (strategic blinking is involved in all forms of therapy). These techniques are generally taught to patients for one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening for a total of one week. During this time patients are urged to refrain from staring at computer or television screens. After the week of therapy patients are encouraged to integrate these practices into their daily routine as each individual exercise takes a short time to perform and can be done while at home or at a work desk.

Image credit: Julian Manning
Image credit: Julian Manning

The Battle Against Stress On Eyes And Emotions

The School For Perfect Eyesight promotes the belief that the quality of a person’s eyes not only degrades in regard to virtual stress caused by computer, mobile and television screens, but also puts forward that mental stress is detrimental to people’s eyesight. Therefore, they strongly suggest that people integrate relaxation techniques into their day to day life. These techniques need not revolve around one’s eyes and simply are suggested as a medium to decrease mental stress. Moreover, they even poset that a healthy diet can aid people’s sight. Holistic health is fundamentally what they preach. So remember to integrate those Omega 3s along with plenty of vitamins A, C and E into your routine diet.

Patients Admitted

The School For Perfect Eyesight treats an average of 3,000 people annually and they are normally in the age group of 7 to 40 years of age. However, Mrs. Santush has seen a substantial rise in child patients from the age of three to four, which she attributes to the unhealthy prevalence of bright screens in modern day life. They most commonly treat people with astigmatisms, which is a refractive problem with the eye. Complicated cases, however, are not normally treated at the school anymore. Mrs. Santush explains that, “We are taking very simple cases, complicated cases before we used to take, but now we are in rush with cases that are easier to treat. Also, if we take a complicated case and something goes wrong, then we will have issues.”

In the past she informed me that they were able to help people who could barely see their own hand in front of them. She added that even though people with more grave eye conditions demonstrated improvement it is tough and long process with the added issue of lawsuit if the patient feels the treatment has not been adequate. Thus, the school concentrates their efforts on simple issues with the eye.

So if your eyesight is getting a bit fuzzy and you want to try a natural remedy of destressing and exercising your eyes try out The School For Perfect Eyesight. The worse thing that can happen is a one week vacation in lovely Pondicherry.

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