Sunday, July 22, 2012

Prevent Myopia, Part III: Research Supports Prevention

Over 100 years ago, researchers noted that people who used their eyes a lot for close work, such as bookkeepers, were often nearsighted. And those who used their eyes mostly for distance, such as farmers and soldiers, were rarely nearsighted. The conclusion was that myopia is caused by constant close-up focusing, something which our eyes were never designed for. The obvious way to prevent this was to put something in front of the eye that would do the focusing so that the eyes could remain relaxed, even when reading. This simple, sensible approach was ignored by those who make their living caring for our vision, and it has been ignored ever since. A lot of myopia research has been conducted over the years, most of if never leading to a better understanding of myopia and how to prevent it. Much of it is actually designed to mislead the public. Even today, researchers are getting government grants for such things as "looking for the gene that causes myopia." Researchers often make the mistake of examining the trees and failing to see the forest. It is obvious that if they do find the answer they are supposedly looking for, all the research money will dry up. These are called "perpetual researchers" and they do more harm than good. However, there has been some wonderful research in this area. Sadly, it is ignored and not even mentioned during the education of an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. Francis A. Young, Ph.D., former Director of the Primate Research Center at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, was the world's foremost myopia researcher with over 35 years of work in the field and more than 85 published research studies. Francis is now deceased, but here are several of many studies conducted by him and his colleagues: 1. Monkeys, with eyes just like ours, do not develop myopia when living in the wild. But when they were taken into the lab and prevented from looking into the distance, they become permanently myopic, just like humans. This was conclusive proof that prolonged accommodation causes myopia. 2. It was found that 60% of the children in Barrow, Alaska were myopic. Their parents and grandparents were not. So, where did they inherit their myopia? Obviously, they didn't. The reason was that the children had the benefit of compulsory education. Their parents and grandparents were illiterate. Also, because of the long, dark winters in Alaska, much of their close work was done under poor lighting conditions. This is known to contribute to myopia development. 3. Studies showed that the pressure inside the large chamber (vitreous) of the eye increases as much as 50% when we look at close objects, indicating that the eye is being stretched. This pressure increase is not the CAUSE of the elongation, merely an indication of the tightening of the tissues. An analogy would be if you grasped a balloon at one end and squeezed. The pressure would go up inside the balloon and the fabric would be stretched. When this happens inside the eye, it is the normal lengthening process at work. It becomes abnormal only when excessive close work pushes the eye into myopia. 4. In a study entitled "Bifocal Control of Myopia," ophthalmologist Kenneth H. Oakley and Francis A. Young described how they used bifocals on children to reduce their rate of myopia progression to a fraction of what it would have otherwise been. In a bifocal, the upper segment is used for distance. It contains a distance correction if the child is already myopic. Otherwise, it is just plain glass. The lower segment contains a lens that reduces focusing effort. In spite of the obvious shortcomings of this approach, myopia progression was decreased when measured against a control group. One of the problems with using this approach generally is that it is too easy to look at close objects through the upper half. An obvious example would be if the lower half is used to view a computer keyboard. The upper half is likely to be used when viewing the monitor, defeating the purpose of the reading glasses. Another study by other researchers showed that Navy submarine personnel, working in a confined visual environment, develop myopia much faster than other personnel. In addition, several decades ago the author of this series participated in a study with Sidney Heller, a Pittsburgh optometrist. Myopic children were given a device, called a Myopter, to be used when reading. This device eliminates the three factors associated with close-up vision, focusing, convergence and 3-D effect, allowing the eyes to be completely relaxed. The study brought about an improvement in the vision of the children, the first time in history that this was accomplished. Improvements of up to one diopter were observed. That improvement was accomplished merely by relaxing the ciliary muscle spasm. An application to the National Eye Institute for assistance in further research was ignored. And no one in the optical business cared enough to do a follow-up study. See the link below for the whole story. How can anyone look at all this evidence and still maintain that myopia is inherited? The federal government can. In 2005, the International Myopia Prevention Assn. filed a petition with the FDA, asking for a warning to the public whenever minus lenses are prescribed. This would be similar to the health warning on cigarette packages. The FDA had no interest in examining the issue and the petition was rejected. See the link below for the whole story. Why is our government on the side of big business rather than public health? Think of the money that is being made through eye exams, glasses, contact lenses, Lasik surgery, and, finally, operations to repair retinal detachments and other resulting problems. This is a multi-billion dollar business around the world that is built on an obvious lie - that myopia is inherited. And those who profit from this will stop at nothing to preserve it. Source -

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