Foreword to "Better Eyesight"

Discussion in 'Eye-Care' started by Zetsu, Mar 29, 2008.

  1. Zetsu

    Zetsu Guest


    When the United States entered the European war recruits for general
    military service were required to have a visual acuity of 20/40 in one
    eye and 20/100 in the other.(1) This very low standard, although it is
    a matter of common knowledge that it was interpreted with great
    liberality, proved to be the greatest physical obstacle to the raising
    of an army. Under it 21.68 per cent. of the registrants were rejected,
    13 per cent. more than for any other single cause.(2)

    Later the standard was lowered (3), issued through office of the
    Provost Marshal General. so that men might be "unconditionally
    accepted for general military service" with a vision of 20/20 in each
    eye without glasses, provided one eye was correctable to 20/40. For
    special or limited service they might be accepted with only 20/200 in
    each eye without glasses, provided one was correctable to 20/40. At
    the same time a great many defects other than errors of refraction
    were admitted in both classes, such as squint not interfering with
    vision, slight nystagmus, and color blindness. Even total blindness in
    one eye was not a cause for rejection to the limited service class,
    provided it was not due to progressive or organic change, and the
    vision of the other eye was normal. Under this incredible standard eye
    defects still remained one of three leading causes of rejection.

    Over ten per cent. (10.65) of the registrants were disqualified by
    them, while defects of the bones and joints and of the heart and
    vessels ran respectively one and one and a half per cent higher.(4)

    Most of the revelations about the physical condition of the American
    people which resulted from the operation of the draft law had been
    anticipated by persons who had been giving their attention to such
    matters; and whose warnings had long fallen upon deaf ears;but it is
    doubtful if anyone had formed an adequate conception of the truth
    regarding the condition of the nation's eyesight. That it should be
    impossible to raise an army with even half normal vision in one eye,
    and that one man in every ten rejected for military service should
    have been unable, even by the aid of glasses, to attain this standard,
    is a situation so appalling that words fail to characterize it, so
    incredible that only the most unimpeachable evidence could compel
    belief in It. Under these circumstances It seems to me the plain duty
    of anyone who has found any means of controlling the evil in question
    to give the facts the widest possible publicity.

    Most writers on ophthalmology today appear to believe that defective
    eyesight is part of the price we must pay for civilization. The human
    eye, they say, was not designed for the uses to which it is now put.
    Eons before there were any schools, or printing presses, electric
    lights, or moving pictures, its evolution was complete. In those days
    it served the needs of the human animal perfectly, but it is not to be
    expected, we are told, that it should respond without injury to the
    new demands. By care it is thought that this injury may be minimized,
    but to eliminate it wholly is considered to be too much to hope for.
    Such is the depressing conclusion to which the monumental labors of a
    hundred years and more have led us.

    I have no hesitation in stating that this conclusion is unqualifiedly
    wrong. Nature did not blunder when she made the human eye, but has
    given us in this intricate and wonderful mechanism, upon which so much
    of the usefulness as well as the pleasure of life depends, an organ as
    fully equal to the needs of civilization as to those of the stone age.
    After thirty-three years of clinical and experimental work, I have
    demonstrated to my own satisfaction and that of others that the eye is
    capable of meeting the utmost demands of civilization; that the errors
    of refraction which have so long dogged the footsteps of progress, and
    which have made the raising of an army during the recent war so
    difficult, are both preventable and curable; and that many other forms
    of imperfect sight, long held to be incurable, may be either improved
    or completely relieved.

    All these discoveries have been published in the medical press, but
    while their reliability has never been publicly disputed, the medical
    profession has so far failed to make use of them. Meantime the sight
    of our children is being destroyed daily in the schools, and our young
    men and women are entering life with a defect which, if uncorrected,
    must be a source of continual misery and expense to them, sometimes
    ending in blindness or economic ruin. Admitting for the sake of
    argument that I may be wrong in my conclusion that these things are
    unnecessary, it is time I was proven to be wrong. I should not be
    allowed to play on the forlorn hope of a suffering world. If I am
    right, as I know I am, a suffering world should no longer be deprived
    of the benefit of my discoveries.

    To give publicity to these discoveries and arouse discussion regarding
    them is one of the objects for which this magazine has been started.
    At the same time its pages are open to everyone who has any light to
    throw upon the problem. It has too long been the custom of
    ophthalmologists to disregard every fact at variance with the accepted
    theories. Such facts, when observed, have usually not been published,
    and when published they have either been ignored or explained away in
    some more or less plausible manner. The management of this magazine
    wishes to make it a medium for the publication of such facts, which,
    it may safely be asserted, are known to every, ophthalmologist of any
    experience, and which, if they had received proper consideration,
    would long ago have led us out of the blind alley in which we are now

    While I think it may be truthfully said that many of my methods are
    new and original, other physicians, both in this country and in
    Europe, have cured themselves and others by treatment without glasses.
    Lay persons have done the same.

    In The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, Oliver Wendell Holmes
    published a very remarkable case of the cure of presbyopia.

    "There is now living in New York State," he says, "an old gentleman
    who, perceiving his sight to fait immediately took to exercising it on
    the finest print, and in this way fairly bullied Nature out of her
    foolish habit of taking liberties at five-and-forty, or thereabouts.
    And now this old gentleman performs the most extraordinary feats with
    his pen, showing that his eyes must be a pair of microscopes. I should
    be, afraid to say how much he writes to the coinpass of a half-dime,
    whether the Psalms or the Gospels, or the Psalms and the Gospels, I
    won't be positive."(5)

    An officer in the American Expeditionary Forces, whose letter is
    published elsewhere, wrote to me about a year ago that he has cured
    himself of presbyopia, and after half a lifetime of misery was
    entirely free from eye discomfort. There must be many more of these
    cases, and we want to hear of them.


    (1)Havard: Manual of Military Hygiene for the Military services of
    United States, third revised edition 1917, p. 195.
    (2) Report of the Provost Marshal General to the Secretary of War on
    the First Draft under the Selective Service Act, 1917.
    (3) Standards of Physical Examination for the Use of Local Boards,
    District Boards and Medical Advisory Boards under the Selective
    Service Act, Form 75
    (4) Second Report of the Provost Marshal General to the Secretary of
    War on the Operations of the Selective Service System to December
    (5) Everyman's Library, 1908, pp. 166 and 167...]

    - W.H. Bates, July 1919
    Zetsu, Mar 29, 2008
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