One of the most persistent and harmful myths passed on from generation to generation by those who make their living caring for our health pertains to myopia. This myth declares that myopia or nearsightedness is inherited from one's parents, and that there is nothing to be done about it but to wear glasses or submit to corneal surgery. We are told by the optometrists and ophthalmologists to whom we go for help with our vision problems, as well as by state and federal public health services, to expect that the myopia will get steadily worse, requiring stronger lenses, until we reach adulthood when the myopia will stabilize.
The fact is that myopia is not inherited. It develops because of the unnatural way we use our eyes, and in nearly every case it can be prevented. This acquired myopia is caused by the excessive amount of reading and other close work that our modern society demands.
The myopia myth has its roots in and is kept alive by the greed, ignorance, callousness, and apathy that prevail in the eye care business. This book will present factual information about the real cause of myopia - information that until now has been kept from those who suffer from its handicap. It is important to educate the public about these prevention methods, for when the public demands better treatment for myopia the vision specialists will have to respond if they want to stay in business.
It is estimated that approximately one-third of the United States population suffers from myopia and needs glasses for clear distance vision. It is significant that in the fifth or sixth grades, only about five percent of the children are myopic, but that the percentage increases steadily through the school years until at the graduate level over fifty percent are myopic. Moreover, fully two-thirds of the graduate honor students are myopic. How can this possibly be considered normal?
Is it not strange that more parents do not ask for a logical reason why their children, normal in every other way, should suddenly suffer from failing vision at such an early age? Unfortunately, they have come to accept the abnormal as normal. Yet we do not find young children in such numbers suffering from deterioration of their senses of hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Why just vision? The obvious reason is that our vision is being used in a manner drastically different from the use for which nature has prepared it.
Compare this high incidence of myopia with illiterate, primitive societies where almost no one is nearsighted. It is not inaccurate to speak of the situation as an epidemic of myopia, and it will continue to increase until the proper action is taken. It used to be common to see myopia develop around age nine, but it is now becoming common in youngsters five or six years old, because children are learning to read at an earlier age. Many children, while still under ten years of age, have myopia that has progressed to the point where they would be classified as legally blind if they did not have eyeglasses to correct their vision.
Although research on methods of preventing myopia has been ignored by the organizations that should be doing it, considerable progress in this field has been made in recent years by independent researchers, so that the cause of myopia and ways to prevent it are now known.
It is a sad fact that the treatment received by most myopic children from their doctors is the exact opposite of what they should be receiving. The glasses and the advice they are given actually make their vision get worse, not better. In addition to the millions of people who are already myopic, outmoded treatment methods are creating hundreds of thousands of new myopes every year. It is a tragedy of gigantic proportions and it is taking place in all of the literate societies of the world. It is truly The Biggest Consumer Fraud Of All Time!
This book is written especially for the parents of young children. Those parents who want to prevent myopia in their children (or to keep myopia that has already developed from getting worse) must take the initiative in learning about the problem and taking steps to prevent it. Until now, no one has given the public the facts about the development of myopia - not the eye care professions, not the schools, not the government, and not the various organizations active in the vision field. It is necessary to strip away the facade of the corrupt eye care business and to lay bare what until now has been kept carefully hidden.
Since many readers will want a complete understanding of myopia, it has been necessary to include in this book a certain amount of technical material and diagrams. However, an effort has been made to present it in as simple and clear a manner as possible and to keep the book to a reasonable length. This detail is necessary if you are to understand the myopia problem and not be at the mercy of your eye doctor, whose grasp of myopia may be fifty years behind the times.
When disseminating information about health topics, it is customary to include a disclaimer such as "This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a replacement for consultation, diagnosis or treatment by a duly licensed practitioner."
You will find no such statement here. Instead, the following advice is offered:
Your doctor cannot be trusted to tell you the truth. The amount of pain, injury and death inflicted by doctors on their paying customers is almost beyond comprehension. The information you get is more likely to be erroneous than correct. Your doctor's main interest is usually maximum income, not your health. Educate yourself by reading everything you can find about your health problem and don't overlook books written by people outside the medical establishment. In fact, those are precisely the books you should start with. You are more likely to find the truth there. Look for material that deals with cause and prevention, rather than "cure." To doctors, the word "prevention" means "early detection" which translates to "more money." Doctors should be considered your adversaries. Always get several opinions before allowing anyone to "treat" you. Protect yourself from the monsters that are created by our present profit-driven "sickness-care" system.
Some of these doctors are pure evil. They know the truth but, like tobacco company executives, don't care how many horrors they inflict on people, even their trusting customers. It serves their purpose to conspire with the National Eye Institute, public "education" organizations, the media and others to hide the truth and prevent any research that might discredit the inherited myopia theory. Others just have the common human failing of believing what pleases them most, and then finding reasons, however illogical, to support that belief. Amazingly, this rationalization is so effective that they even destroy the vision of their own children, fully convinced that they are doing the right thing. And still others are just stupid. If you do not educate yourself, you will be their victim.
If you find these words too harsh, you may change your mind after you have read this book. Yet what you read here is just the tip of the medical malpractice iceberg.
There fortunately exists a relatively small group of researchers, vision specialists and activists who over the years have been trying to get the facts and do what is right for the public. Many of these people have persevered in spite of attacks, criticism and even ridicule from the more backward and reactionary members of the eye care business.
It is to these progressive and courageous men and women that this book is dedicated.