Imperfect Sight Contagious

Discussion in 'Optometry Archives' started by Lelouch, Aug 10, 2009.

  1. Lelouch

    Lelouch Guest


    By W. H. Bates, M. D.

    The question of whether or not errors of refraction are hereditary is
    one about which the medical profession has exercised itself greatly.
    An immense amount of work has been done for the purpose of throwing
    light upon it, and all the time the very plain fact that these
    conditions are contagious has escaped observation. For an error of
    refraction is simply a nervous condition, and there is nothing more
    contagious than nervousness. A person with myopia, hypermetropia, or
    astigmatism, is a person under a strain. The strain shows in his
    voice, his walk, his manner, and makes the people with whom he comes
    in contact nervous. These people then develop errors of refraction,
    temporarily if the influence is temporary, and permanently if the
    influence is permanent, as in the case of children who cannot escape
    from their nervous teachers and parents. Endless illustrations of this
    fact could be given. A few must suffice.

    A very nervous woman wearing glasses for astigmatism brought me her
    very nervous child who had been wearing glasses for six months, also
    for astigmatism, three diopters in one eye and three and a half in the
    other. The child's eyes were red, strained, and partly closed, and it
    was quite evident that the glasses did not make her comfortable. I
    talked to her pleasantly for a while so as to disarm any fears of the
    doctor that she might entertain, and then told her to close her eyes
    and rest them for fifteen minutes. When she opened them she had
    perfect sight for the Snellen test card in both eyes, and she read
    diamond type at from six inches to eighteen. I said to the mother:
    "There is nothing wrong with your child's eyes. When they were
    tested she must have been nervous."
    The mother answered that this was true. She had been trying to play a
    duet with her sister, and got so nervous that she could not see the
    notes. The family was so alarmed at this sudden failure of sight that
    she was taken immediately to an oculist, and the result was glasses
    for astigmatism. As children have an astonishing power of adapting
    their eyes to different kinds of lenses, she had adapted her eyes to
    these very strong glasses sufficiently so that she could see through
    them, but was not able to be comfortable in them, nor in any of the
    others that were subsequently given to her.

    Mother and child left the office in a very happy frame of mind, but a
    few days later the mother returned, very much discouraged and somewhat
    incensed. The child was just as bad as ever, she said. She couldn't
    read half the card.
    "The reason she can't read the card," I said, "is because you test
    her. Let her younger sister test her, and you will find that she will
    read it perfectly. The strain in your eyes is reflected in your voice
    and walk, in everything about you; you make the child nervous, and
    when you try to test her sight she becomes astigmatic. If you want her
    to get cured and stay cured, you should get cured yourself."
    She took my advice, and is now under treatment.

    In my studies of the eyesight of school children this experience was
    frequently repeated. When I went into a classroom where the teacher
    wore glasses I knew I would always find a large percentage of
    imperfect sight. When the teacher did not wear glasses I knew the
    percentage would be below the average. When the teacher tested the
    sight of a child it was often found to be very imperfect, but when I
    tested it it might be perfect. In one case a teacher wearing glasses
    told me that a certain boy was very nearsighted. He could not read the
    writing on the blackboard, he could not tell the time by the clock,
    and he could not recognize people across the street. I tested his
    sight and found it normal. The teacher was incredulous and suggested
    that he must have memorized the letters. Then I wrote letters and
    words on the blackboard which he read just as well as he had read the
    letters on the card.

    One day my own children came home from school with a note to the
    effect that they could not read the writing on the blackboard and
    needed glasses, and later a nurse called to reinforce the message. I
    tested their sight and found it normal. Then I called on the
    principal, told him that I was an eye specialist, and after testing
    the sight of the children I could find nothing wrong with it. I asked
    if there would be any objection to their having a test card in their
    classrooms so that they could read it frequently. He said he could see
    no reason why this should not be done, and it was. But soon after the
    younger child, a little girl, came home from school in tears. The
    teacher and the nurse and the other children had made fun of the card,
    and said it was absurd to suppose that such a simple thing as reading
    a card every day could keep one from having trouble with one's eyes.
    Of course I knew it would do her no good to read the card under these
    conditions, and so I had her read it at home. The sight of both
    children has remained perfect, but I have no doubt that if the
    circumstances had been different they would have been wearing glasses

    Children are very sensitive to nervous influences, these influences
    often produce temporary imperfect sight, and unfortunately they are
    often, in these states, fitted with glasses. Fortunately most children
    hate to wear glasses, and after trying them for a while frequently
    discard them. They also break and lose them. Thus they are saved much
    injury. But if the teacher or parent is conscientious and insists on
    the wearing of the glasses, and on their renewal when lost or broken,
    the temporary error of refraction becomes a permanent one.

    The atmosphere of the average classroom is extremely irritating. It
    makes the children nearsighted, farsighted and astigmatic. But if they
    have a familiar Snellen test card which they can read every day they
    are always able to overcome this adverse influence. When they can read
    the letters on the card which they know by heart, they are also able
    to read the writing on the blackboard and see other strange objects at
    the distance or the near-point with normal sight.


    School Number
    Better Eyesight
    A monthly magazine devoted to the prevention and cure of imperfect
    sight without glasses
    Copyright, 1920, by the Central Fixation Publishing Company
    Editor—W. H. Bates, M.D.
    Publisher—Central Fixation Publishing Co.
    $2.00 per year, 20 cents per copy
    342 West 42nd Street, New York, N. Y.
    Vol. III - August, 1920 - No. 2

    Lelouch, Aug 10, 2009
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.