The Prevention and Cure of Myopia and Other Errors of Refraction: AMethod That Succeeded - Better Ey

Discussion in 'Optometry Archives' started by Zetsu, Jun 29, 2009.

  1. Zetsu

    Zetsu Guest

    [...]

    You cannot see anything with perfect sight unless you have seen it
    before. When the eye looks at an unfamiliar object it always strains
    more or less to see that object, and an error of refraction is always
    produced. When children look at unfamiliar writing, or figures, on the
    blackboard, distant maps, diagrams, or pictures, the retinoscope
    always shows that they are myopic, though their vision may be under
    other circumstances absolutely normal. The same thing happens when
    adults look at unfamiliar distant objects. When the eye regards a
    familiar object, however, the effect is quite otherwise. Not only can
    it be regarded without strain, but the strain of looking later at
    unfamiliar objects is lessened.

    This fact furnishes us with a means of overcoming the mental strain to
    which children are subjected by the modern educational system. It is
    impossible to see anything perfectly when the mind is under a strain,
    and if children become able to relax when looking at familiar objects,
    they become able, sometimes in an incredibly brief space of time, to
    maintain their relaxation when looking at unfamiliar objects.

    I discovered this fact while examining the eyes of 1,500 school
    children at Grand Forks, N. D., in 1903. [1] In many cases children
    who could not read all of the letters on the Snellen test card at the
    first test read them at the second or third test. After a class had
    been examined the children who had failed would sometimes ask for a
    second test, and then it often happened that they would read the whole
    card with perfect vision. So frequent were these occurences that there
    was no escaping the conclusion that in some way the vision was
    improved by reading the Snellen test card. In one class I found a boy
    who at first appeared to be very myopic, but who, after a little
    encouragement, read all the letters on the test card. The teacher
    asked me about this boy's vision, because she had found him to be very
    "near-sighted." When I said that his vision was normal she was
    incredulous, and suggested that he might have learned the letters by
    heart, or been prompted by another pupil. He was unable to read the
    writing or figures on the blackboard, she said, or to see the maps,
    charts, and diagrams on the walls, and did not recognize people across
    the street. She asked me to test his sight again, which I did, very
    carefully, under her supervision, the sources of error which she had
    suggested being eliminated. Again the boy read all the letters on the
    card. Then the teacher tested his sight. She wrote some words and
    figures on the blackboard and asked him to read them. He did so
    correctly. Then she wrote additional words and figures, which he read
    equally well. Finally she asked him to tell the hour by the clock
    twenty-five feet distant, which he did correctly. It was a dramatic
    situation, both the teacher and the children being intensely
    interested. Three other cases in the class were similar, their vision,
    which had previously been very defective for distant objects, becoming
    normal in the few moments devoted to testing their eyes. It is not
    surprising that after such a demonstration the teacher asked to have a
    Snellen test card placed permanently in the room. The children were
    directed to read the smallest letters they could see from their seats
    at least once every day, with both eyes together and with each eye
    separately, the other being covered with the palm of the hand in such
    a way as to avoid pressure on the eyeball. Those whose vision was
    defective were encouraged to read it more frequently, and in fact
    needed no encouragement to do so after they found that the practice
    helped them to see the blackboard, and stopped the headaches, or other
    discomfort, previously resulting from the use of their eyes.

    In another class of forty children, between six and eight, thirty of
    the pupils gained normal vision while their eyes were being tested.
    The remainder were cured later under the supervision of the teacher by
    exercises in distant vision with the Snellen card. The teacher had
    noted every year for fifteen years that at the opening of the school
    in the fall all the children could see the writing on the blackboard
    from their seats, but before school closed the following spring all of
    them without exception complained that they could not see it at a
    distance of more than ten feet. After learning of the benefits to be
    derived from the daily practice of distant vision with familiar
    objects as the points of fixation, the teacher kept a Snellen test
    card continually in her classroom and directed the children to read it
    every day. The result was that for eight years no more of the children
    under her care acquired defective eyesight.

    This teacher had attributed the invariable deterioration in the
    eyesight of her charges during the school year to the fact that her
    classroom was in the basement and the light poor. But teachers with
    well-lighted classrooms had the same experience, and after the Snellen
    test card was introduced into both the well-lighted and the poorly
    lighted rooms, and the children read it every day, the deterioration
    of their eyesight not only ceased, but the vision of all improved.
    Vision which had been below normal improved, in most cases, to normal,
    while children who already had normal sight, usually reckoned at
    20/20, became able to read 20/15 or 20/10. And not only was myopia
    cured, but the vision for near objects was improved.

    At the request of the superintendent of the schools of Grand Forks,
    Mr. J. Nelson Kelly, the system was introduced into all the schools of
    the city and was used continuously for eight years, during which time
    it reduced myopia among the children, which I found at the beginning
    to be about six per cent, to less than one per cent.

    In 1911 and 1912 the same system was introduced into some of the
    schools of New York City [1] with an attendance of about ten thousand
    children. Many of the teachers neglected to use the cards, being
    unable to believe that such a simple method, and one so entirely at
    variance with previous teaching on the subject, could accomplish the
    desired results. Others kept the cards in a closet except when they
    were needed for the daily eye drill, lest the children should memorize
    them. Thus they not only put an unnecessary burden upon themselves,
    but did what they could to defeat the purpose of the system, which is
    to give the children daily exercise in distant vision with a familiar
    object as the point of fixation. A considerable number, however, used
    the system intelligently and persistently, and in less than a year
    were able to present reports showing that of three thousand children
    with imperfect sight over one thousand had obtained normal vision by
    its means. Some of these children, as in the case of the children of
    Grand Forks, were cured in a few minutes. Many of the teachers were
    also cured, some of them very quickly. In some cases the results of
    the system were so astonishing as to be scarcely credible.

    In a class of mental defectives, where the teacher had kept records of
    the eyesight of the children for several years, it had been invariably
    found that their vision grew steadily worse as the term advanced. As
    soon as the Snellen test card had been introduced, however, they began
    to improve. Then came a doctor from the Board of Health who tested the
    eyes of the children and put glasses on all of them, even those whose
    sight was fairly good. The use of the card was then discontinued, as
    the teacher did not consider it proper to interfere while the children
    were wearing glasses prescribed by a physician. Very soon, however,
    the children began to lose, break, or discard, their glassses. Some
    said that the spectacles gave them headaches, or that they felt better
    without them. In the course of a month or so most of the aids to
    vision which the Board of Health had supplied had disappeared. The
    teacher then felt herself at liberty to resume the use of the Snellen
    test card. Its benefits were immediate. The eyesight and mentality of
    the children improved simultaneously, and soon they were all drafted
    into the regular classes, because it was found that they were making
    the same progress in their studies as the other children were.

    Another teacher reported an equally interesting experience. She had a
    class of children who did not fit into the other grades. Many of them
    were backward in their studies. Some were persistent truants. All of
    them had defective eyesight. A Snellen test card was hung in the
    classroom where all the children could see it, and the teacher carried
    out my instructions literally. At the end of six months all but two
    had been cured and these had improved very much, while the worst
    incorrigible and the worst truant had become good students. The
    incorrigible, who had previously refused to study, because, he said,
    it gave him a headache to look at a book, or at the blackboard, found
    out that the test card, in some way, did him a lot of good; and
    although the teacher had asked him to read it but once a day, he read
    it whenever he felt uncomfortable. The result was that in a few weeks
    his vision had become normal and his objection to study had
    disappeared. The truant had been in the habit of remaining away from
    school two or three days every week, and neither his parents nor the
    truant officer had been able to do anything about it. To the great
    surprise of his teacher he never missed a day after having begun to
    read the Snellen test card. When she asked for an explanation he told
    her that what had driven him away from school was the pain that came
    in his eyes whenever he tried to study, or to read the writing on the
    blackboard. After reading the Snellen test card, he said, his eyes and
    head were rested and he was able to read without any discomfort.

    To remove any doubts that might arise as to the cause of the
    improvement noted in the eyesight of the chidren comparative tests
    were made with and without cards. In one case six pupils with
    defective sight were examined daily without the use of the test card.
    No improvement took place. The card was then restored to its place and
    the group was instructed to read it every day. At the end of the week
    all had improved and five were cured. In the case of another group of
    defectives the results were similar. During the week that the card was
    not used no improvement was noted, but after a week of exercises in
    distant vision with the card all showed marked improvement, and at the
    end of a month all were cured. In order that there might be no
    question as to the reliability of the records of the teachers some of
    the principals asked the Board of Health to send an inspector to test
    the vision of the pupils, and whenever this was done the records were
    found to be correct.

    One day I visited the city of Rochester, and while there I called on
    the Superintendent of Public Schools and told him about my method of
    preventing myopia. He was very much interested and invited me to
    introduce it in one of his schools. I did so, and at the end of three
    months a report was sent to me showing that the vision of all the
    children had improved, while quite a number of them had obtained
    perfect sight in both eyes.

    The method has been used in a number of other cities and always with
    the same result. The vision of all the children improved, and many of
    them obtained perfect sight in the course of a few minutes, days,
    weeks or months.

    It is difficult to prove a negative proposition, but since this system
    improved the vision of all the children who used it, it follows that
    none could have grown worse. It is therefore obvious that it must have
    prevented myopia. This cannot be said of any method of preventing
    myopia in schools which had previously been tried. All other methods
    are based on the idea that it is the excessive use of the eyes for
    near work that causes myopia, and all of them have admittedly failed.

    It is also obvious that the method must have prevented other errors of
    refraction, a problem which previously had not even been seriously
    considered, because hypermetropia is supposed to be congenital, and
    astigmatism was until recently supposed also to be congenital in the
    great majority of cases. Anyone who knows how to use a retinoscope
    may, however, demonstrate in a few minutes that both of these
    conditions are acquired; for no matter how astigmatic or hypermetropic
    an eye may be, its vision always becomes normal when it looks at a
    blank surface without trying to see. It may also be demonstrated that
    when children are learning to read, write, draw, sew, or to do
    anything else that necessitates their looking at unfamiliar objects at
    the near-point, hypermetropia, or hypermetropic astigmatism, is always
    produced. The same is true of adults. These facts have not been
    reported before, so far as I am aware, and they strongly suggest that
    children need, first of all, eye education. They must be able to look
    at strange letters or objects at the near-point without strain before
    they can make much progress in their studies, and in every case in
    which the method has been tried it has proven that this end is
    attained by daily exercise in distant vision with the Snellen test
    card. When their distant vision has been improved by this means
    children invariably become able to use their eyes without strain at
    the near-point.

    The method succeeded best when the teacher did not wear glasses. In
    fact, the effect upon the children of a teacher who wears glasses is
    so detrimental that no such person should be allowed to be a teacher,
    and since errors of refraction are curable, such a ruling would place
    no hardship on anyone. Not only do children imitate the visual habits
    of a teacher who wears glasses, but the nervous strain of which the
    defective sight is an expression produces in them a similar condition.
    In classes of the same grade, with the same lighting, the sight of
    children whose teachers did not wear glasses has always been found to
    be better than the sight of children whose teachers did wear them. In
    one case I tested the sight of children whose teacher wore glasses and
    found it very imperfect. The teacher went out of the room on an
    errand, and after she had gone I tested them again. The results were
    very much better. When the teacher returned she asked about the sight
    of a particular boy, a very nervous child, and as I was proceeding to
    test him she stood before him and said: "Now, when the doctor tells
    you to read the card, do it." The boy couldn't see anything. Then she
    went behind him, and the effect was the same as if she had left the
    room. The boy read the whole card.

    Still better results would be obtained if we could reorganize the
    educational system on a rational basis. Then we might expect a general
    return of that primitive acuity of vision which we marvel at so
    greatly when we read about it in the memoirs of travellers. But even
    under existing conditions it has been proven beyond the shadow of a
    doubt that errors of refraction are no necessary part of the price we
    must pay for education.

    There are at least ten million children in the schools of the United
    States who have defective sight. This condition prevents them from
    taking full advantage of the educational opportunities which the State
    provides. It undermines their health and wastes the taxpayers' money.
    If allowed to continue, it will be an expense and a handicap to them
    throughout their lives. In many cases it will be a source of continual
    misery and suffering. And yet practically all of these cases could be
    cured and the development of new ones prevented by the daily reading
    of the Snellen test card.

    Why should our children be compelled to suffer and wear glasses for
    want of this simple measure of relief? It costs practically nothing.
    In fact, it would not be necessary, in some cases, to purchase the
    Snellen test cards, as they are already being used to test the eyes of
    the children. Not only does it place practically no additional burden
    upon the teachers, but, by improving the eyesight, health, disposition
    and mentality of their pupils, it greatly lightens their labors. No
    one would venture to suggest, further, that it could possibly do any
    harm. Why, then, should there by any delay about introducing it into
    the schools? If there is still thought to be need for further
    investigation and discussion, we can investigate and discuss just as
    well after the children get the cards as before, and by adopting that
    course we will not run the risk of needlessly condemning another
    generation to that curse which heretofore has always dogged the
    footsteps of civilization, namely, defective eyesight. I appeal to all
    who read these lines to use whatever influence they possess toward the
    attainment of this end.

    [1] Bates: The Prevention of Myopia in School Children, N. Y. Med.
    Jour., July 29, 1911.

    [2} Bates: Myopia Prevention by Teachers, N. Y. Med. Jour., Aug. 30,
    1913.

    ____

    A monthly magazine devoted to the prevention and cure of imperfect
    sight without glasses
    Copyright, 1919, 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
    39-45 East 42nd Street, New York, N. Y.
    Vol. I - August, 1919 - No. 2
    ____

    [...]
     
    Zetsu, Jun 29, 2009
    #1
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  2. Zetsu

    serebel Guest

    The above post is pure fiction.
     
    serebel, Jun 29, 2009
    #2
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