Patients Who Succeed 153
until the memory is almost as good as the sight at the near-point. With the test card at a distance of twenty feet, look at a blank surface a foot or more to one side of it, and again remember the letter. Do the same at six inches and at three inches. At the last point note the appearance of the letters on the card-that is, in the eccentric field. If the memory is still perfect, they will appear to be a dim black, not grey, and those nearest the point of fixation will appear blacker than those more distant. Gradually reduce the distance between the point of fixation and the letter until able to look straight at it and imagine that it is seen as well as it is remembered. Occasionally it is well during the practice to close and cover the eyes and remember the letter, or a period, perfectly black. The rest and mental control gained in this way are a help in gaining control when one looks at the test card.
Patients who succeed with this method are not con scious while imagining a perfect letter, of seeing, at the same time, an imperfect one, and are not distracted when their vision is improved by their imagination. Many patients can remember perfectly with their eyes closed, or when they are looking at a place where they cannot see the letter; but just as soon as they look at it they begin to strain and lose control of their memory. There fore, as the imagination depends upon the memory, they cannot imagine that they see the letter. In such cases it has been my custom to proceed somewhat in the man ner described in the preceding chapter. I begin by saying to the patient:
"Can you imagine a black period on the bottom of this letter, and at the same time, while imagining the period perfectly, are you able to imagine that you see the letter?