Schools and Myopia Prevention
A Presentation by Donald Rehm
President, International Myopia Prevention Assn.
1054 Gravel Hill Road, Ligonier, PA 15658

The world is in the midst of an epidemic, such as has never been seen before. It is not an incurable disease. This epidemic can be easily prevented. All it takes is some knowledge.

Most children begin their school years with good vision, but 50% of them end their schooling wearing glasses for myopia, or nearsightedness. Many of them would qualify as being legally blind if they did not have the crutch of glasses to turn to. They have become seriously visually handicapped children. The cost and nuisance of wearing glasses for a lifetime is the least of the problem. Any amount of myopia, because of the abnormal lengthening of the eye which occurs, increases the risk of retinal detachment and macular degeneration in later years. A myopic eye is an eye in danger. There are now 2.5 billion nearsighted people in the world, made that way by their eye doctors who not only ignore prevention, but who treat the myopia in a way that makes it worse. Many of these children will end their lives blind because of it. Myopia is a leading cause of blindness. In fact, the role of myopia is underreported. Blindness that is reported as due to "retinal detachment" should more accurately be reported as "retinal detachment caused by myopia and the failure to prevent it." The same is true of macular degeneration.

Mass Myopia In some Asian countries, like Singapore and Taiwan, over 90% of college graduates are nearsighted. Look at this picture and note how many of these young people are wearing glasses for myopia. This epidemic cannot be explained by the inherited - myopia theory. Genetic changes do not take place this quickly. If that many children ended their school years wearing hearing aids rather than glasses, would that get our attention? People must find it difficult to believe that the eye doctors they feel they can trust cannot be trusted.

Today, a $100 billion profit-based industry controls what people believe about myopia. Doctors will tell you that myopia is inherited, like a defective gene, and glasses are the only answer. This is a lie. Over 100 years ago, observers noted that those who used their eyes a lot for close work, like accountants, often became nearsighted. Those who used their eyes mostly for distance, like farmers and soldiers, did not. This is all the evidence we have ever needed to show the cause of myopia and how to prevent it. But this evidence has not just been ignored. It has been vigorously suppressed to this day.

Every school board in the world, except one in China, which I talk about later, is playing a key role in allowing this to happen. We try to protect our schoolchildren from drugs, tobacco and bullying, but we do nothing to protect their precious vision from being ruined by the school environment. We require children to go to school and we thus have an obligation to insure that this does not result in harm.

Phone UseFrancis Young, Ph.D., former head of the Primate Research Center at Washington State University, conducted additional research proving myopia results from the unnatural way we use our eyes. Francis was a close friend of mine until his death. Our primate cousins, like chimpanzees and gorillas, have eyes just like ours but do not become myopic. This is because they do not learn to read. Our children spend hours daily looking at books, computers, smart phones, etc, and their vision suffers. Young took monkeys into the laboratory and placed them in chairs surrounded by a curtain which prevented them from focusing on anything in the distance. In a few months they became permanently nearsighted, just like our children.

Young examined the eyes of the Eskimos living in Barrow, Alaska and found that 60% of the children were nearsighted. Their parents and grandparents were not. The reason was that the children had the benefit of compulsory education. Their parents and grandparents were illiterate. So how can myopia be inherited? Young told me personally that when he went to lecture about his findings at the optometric schools, he was flabbergasted at the resistance he met.

Short eye
Fig. 1

FIGURE 1 shows a farsighted, or hyperopic, eye. We are normally born farsighted. This means that the eye is shorter than ideal. When the child looks into the distance, the rays of light coming from a distant point of light, like a star, are essentially parallel and come to a point focus behind the retina. This causes a blur at the retina. To clear the blur, the eye automatically brings the object into focus. This is called Accommodation. The muscle which surrounds the lens, like a ring around your finger, is called the Ciliary Muscle. It contracts, making the lens thicker. The rays of light are bent more so they come to a focus at the retina.

But this means that even more accommodative effort must be exerted when looking at near objects because the rays of light are diverging when they enter the eye. Focusing effort is thus being exerted all day long. When the ciliary muscle is in constant tension like this, it locks up or cramps. A night's sleep is not enough to make it relax. This cramp is followed over time by a permanent elongation of the eye. When the eye becomes long enough that light from a distant object focuses on the retina, the cramp is meant to relax. This is what happens to our primate cousins. This is the feedback system by which the eye tries to reach its ideal length, so that it is relaxed for distance and the full amplitude of accommodation is available for occasional close work. A young child can focus on objects just a few inches from the eyes.

This is similar to a weight-lifter whose muscles grow stronger. Why don't they just stay as they were? The reason is that stronger muscles can lift the weights with less stress on the body. The eye is also programmed to adapt so it can do its work with the least stress.

But the constant close work in our modern society causes this process to continue. The eye passes from hyperopia (farsightedness) through emmetropia (perfect vision) into myopia (nearsightedness), an abnormal and dangerous condition. This growth is unrelated to the normal growth of the eyes during childhood, which is minimal. The proper term for this is Acquired Myopia, to distinguish it from Congenital Myopia which a few people are born with. Eye doctors do not like the term Acquired Myopia since it sounds in opposition to their Inherited Myopia theory. But their theory cannot explain why the eye continues to lengthen into increasing myopia, long after the body has stopped growing.

Here is the mechanism by which the eye lengthens. The ciliary muscle is attached by suspensory ligaments to the sclera which goes around the back of the eye. The ciliary cramp pulls constantly on the sclera and stretches the tissues. This causes the vitreous chamber to become bigger. The additional space is filled with fluid that the eye produces. Research by Young showed that this tension can cause a pressure increase in the vitreous by up to 50%. It is as if you held a balloon at one end and squeezed it, stretching the fabric and causing the pressure inside the balloon to increase. As the eye lengthens, the retina can detach or degeneration can occur at the macula, the point of clearest vision.

Plus lens
Fig. 2

FIGURE 2 shows a plus lens before the eye. The lens of the eye is convex, thicker at the center than the edge. We call this a plus lens because it has a real focal point. If we put a convex lens in front of the eye, it can bend the diverging light rays from a close object so they become parallel and the eye can remain at rest, focused for distance. This marvelous invention is available in every drugstore, on the rack of reading glasses. These glasses are used by older people who develop presbyopia, a natural result of the lens losing flexibility as we age. If a child who is just starting to become myopic puts on a pair of +3 diopter glasses, a book held at normal reading distance can be read without accommodation. This can be confirmed by pushing the book away until the words just start to blur. This is an indication that the ciliary muscle is fully relaxed. Reading like this is the key to preventing myopia.

We are not designed to live in cold climates. So we wear clothing to protect ourselves from this unnatural environment. And we also need to protect our eyes from the unnatural environment we have put them in. The +3 glasses should be used for close work until perhaps the mid-twenties, when the eyes become less flexible and less apt to elongate. The glasses can then be put aside and kept for a few decades until the day comes when they are needed again, due to presbyopia. One pair of $10 glasses for a lifetime with little need for eye exams. Is it any wonder that the eye doctors are fighting prevention with every method they can find?

For an animated and narrated presentation on preventing myopia, click on the image of the child to the right. For a non-animated, low bandwidth version, click here. Use your back button to return to this page.

Minus lens
Fig. 3

FIGURE 3 shows a minus lens before the eye. Instead of the sensible solution using plus lenses, the doctor provides concave or minus lenses. A minus lens is an oddity that does not exist in nature. It was invented around the year 1500 and it has been destroying vision ever since. Assume a child has become myopic and can see clearly only out to arm's length. A minus lens converts parallel rays from a distant object into diverging rays, as if coming from something close and shown by the dotted lines. That distant mountain top is now at arm's length from a focusing standpoint. But the book, which was formerly at arm's length, is now much closer.

The entire world has been brought closer, up within the range of clear vision. But since close work is the cause of myopia, a vicious circle has now begun. The lenses cause more accommodation which causes more myopia and the need for stronger glasses, over and over again. And children are often told to wear the minus lenses full time, not just for distance. That is stupid and disastrous advice. If minus lenses were not prescribed and used for close work as well as distance, a child who reads constantly at 1/3 meter, or 13 inches, would only develop about 3 diopters of myopia, a moderate amount.

The eye doctors ignore the evidence that the eye is dynamic. It uses the constant accommodation to reduce the infantile farsightedness to near zero. If they were to admit that fact, they would have to admit that this same mechanism is the cause of myopia. So the eyes of our children must be sacrificed on the altar of "inherited myopia."

Money The child has now been started down the road to repeat eye exams, repeat purchases of stronger glasses or contacts, and perhaps Lasik surgery later on. This corneal surgery carries its own risks. Then when a detached retina occurs, the surgeons take over and try to patch up the diseased eye. The child becomes a lifelong victim of greed, ignorance and exploitation as a result of this doctor-caused myopia. Our children are being made into visual cripples by their eye doctors. If our children were being hit by cars and crippled at unsafe street crossings, wouldn't we demand immediate action to prevent this? We are failing to protect our children. As usual, it's all about the money.

In April, 2007, I gave a 30-minute Internet radio interview on BreakForNews.com with the title The Great Eyeglasses Scam. To listen to the interview, click on Interview. Click on your back button to return to this page.

Here is a January, 2015 example of the kind of emails I get from such victims:

QUOTE: I am very grateful to have discovered your website earlier this year. I am a 22-year-old college student from Canada and I have very high myopia, -9.50 and -9.00 diopters.

I started wearing glasses when I was eight years old. Throughout elementary school, middle school, and high school, I read a lot of books. I would always wear my distance glasses whenever I read and did other near-work activities. I remember getting my eyes checked every two years and every time, my prescription would get stronger. My mom would always buy me a new pair of distance glasses with a stronger prescription, and I would always wear my new distance glasses, even when I did near-work activities, such as reading.

I was very upset and depressed for weeks when I found out that my high myopia could have been prevented if I had worn reading glasses whenever I did near-work activities as a child and a teen. But I never knew that because nobody told me. Not even my optometrist! I just thought it was completely normal for my eyes to change because I was growing. UNQUOTE.

And here is a March, 2015 example of how early in life this myopia epidemic now starts:

QUOTE: I am glad I found this website. My little one was addicted to the iPad phone to watch TV at a tender age. Now she has been diagnosed with myopia and it is very high for her age of 5 years. She is -3.5 and -5.5. What could you advise me to help stop the progression of her myopia? UNQUOTE.

Stretched eye
Fig. 4

FIGURE 4 shows that in high myopia, the eye can be stretched as much as 25% longer than normal. When retinal detachment occurs, it can be said that the minus lenses, prescribed over and over again, have caused the eye to literally tear itself apart. Again, you will not learn this from an eye doctor. They want us to believe that this destructive eye elongation is inherited, the way we may inherit the color of our eyes. They ignore the old rule in the medical field, "first do no harm."

Retinal Detachment
Fig. 5

FIGURE 5 shows a retinal detachment and here is a typical textbook description of what happens:

QUOTE: At some point during the enlargement of the eye, a pathological state begins to develop. That means that this is no longer simple myopia, but a diseased eye. Among the main changes are generalized atrophy of the retina and choroid, and degeneration at the point where the optic nerve leaves the eye and in the macular area (where the fovea is located). Hemorrhages can occur at various places. Because of the atrophy at the fovea, central vision begins to be lost.

Similar mechanical and degenerative changes occur in the vitreous. Since the vitreous has become quite watery, large floating spots of degenerative material can be easily seen. The tearing and hemorrhaging of the retina lead to retinal detachment, allowing the watery vitreous to flow between the retina and choroid. The watery condition of the vitreous thus aggravates the tendency toward detached retina. If actual detachment does not occur, the degenerative changes can progress slowly until no useful vision remains. In either case, blindness often results. UNQUOTE.

Wearing minus
Fig. 6

FIGURE 6 shows a man wearing strong minus lenses. You can tell when someone is wearing a minus lens by looking through the outer edge of the glasses. The side of the face appears to be shifted toward the nose. This shift is very obvious in high myopia.

To make matters worse, many of us need a cataract operation when we get older. A cataract operation often causes a retinal detachment in a myopic eye. With respect to cataracts, eye drops called Can-C have been developed in Russia that dissolve cataracts and make a risky operation unnecessary. I don't sell these, but I tell where they can be obtained on my website, preventcataract.org. Again, you won't learn about this from an eye doctor. Cataract surgery is a tremendous source of income for them.

The optical industry has done a fine job of corrupting our government, the media, the optometric schools, the medical schools, school boards and others for over 100 years. I once petitioned the FDA to provide a warning to the public whenever minus lenses are prescribed. As expected, they refused. I once went to Washington DC and sat across the table from a former director of the National Eye Institute. I wanted to present data about how a Pittsburgh optometrist and I had reversed myopia in several children by relaxing the ciliary spasm with plus lenses. After a few minutes, he got up and left the room without a word. He knew that if he promoted prevention in any way, he would lose his job.

A website that has been created by the optical industry and which details just how they put pressure on the NEI is Eyeresearch.org. Click on "About the Alliance" at the top and then "Member Organizations" at the bottom to see all the companies that are directing the work of the NEI for their own profit. They call themselves the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research and state that they are "serving as friends of the National Eye Institute." Nearly every profit-oriented organization in the optical business world is listed. They have even established their office at 1801 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852, very close to the NEI office in Bethesda, MD. Their interest is maximum profits, not public health. This organization, and others, put pressure on the FDA and other agencies, as well as the NEI. They have millions of dollars available for lobbying, and the only thing they serve is their self-interest. The NEI provides most of the eye research funding in this country. When they learned that Francis Young's research was proving the genetic theory to be nonsense, they cut off his funding. He carried on without their support.

The Federal Trade Commission, which is supposed to protect us from unsafe products, doesn't even reply to my letters. The only way this situation is going to change is if we begin here where we have control and are not dependent on outside help which will never come. The optical industry has succeeded in getting everyone, from the federal government on down to local school boards, to assist them in their crimes.

Here is an email I received from the school board in Hillsborough County, FL, where Tampa is located. QUOTE: Hillsborough County School District partners with Lens Crafters, Prevent Blindness and The Lions Club. These groups are very generous in providing optometrical services as well as glasses to students who either failed their vision examination or demonstrate visual problems. UNQUOTE.

Prevent Blindness is run by eye doctors for their own benefit. It claims it wants to prevent blindness, but it never mentions the blindness caused by doctors and their minus lenses. The Lions Club gets a lot of money from the optical industry in order to add a false impression of public service to their crimes. These groups don't care about our children. Their only concern is how much money they can make. They don't just ignore the evidence they don't like. They are all part of a well-organized, worldwide effort to hide the truth from the public. This is how the optical industry befriends, infiltrates and controls the schools. They must be very pleased with their success as a false friend. They have probably tried to develop ties to every school board in the nation. They think you aren't smart enough to realize how they are fooling you. Are you going to prove them right? Is your school taking such bribery money?

China desks 1
Fig. 7

FIGURE 7 shows how one school district in China has taken action by providing barriers on the desks to prevent the children from reading too close. This is a marvelous idea, but these children should still have plus lenses for use at home. A child who reads at one-third meter is still using 3 diopters of accommodation. That isn't good. But reading at one-tenth meter requires 10 diopters of accommodation. That is far worse.

China desks 2
Fig. 8

FIGURE 6 shows an alternative device used in some schools.

If you join me in taking the proper action, we can lead the world in ending this tragedy. Our goal will be that no schoolchild will develop myopia. But if I cannot convince the school boards to take action, then they will be responsible for the continued blinding of millions of people, both those now living and those yet to be born. The doctors will never change their ways on their own. This needs to be a grassroots movement. You have the benefit of me and my organization, the International Myopia Prevention Assn., to assist you. I have written The Myopia Myth, the definitive book on this subject, and done more than anyone else to promote prevention and end this atrocity. The myth is that myopia is inherited.

If you want me to debate a doctor on this issue, I would be happy to do so. But it will be a short debate. My first question will be "What research proves that myopia is inherited?" My second question will be "What research proves that minus lenses do not increase myopia?" They have no such research - only their biased opinion and their greed. The reason that you cannot buy ready-made minus-power glasses in stores to treat myopia is that some authority long ago realized how dangerous they can be. So it became illegal to sell them that way. They may have felt that only doctors would use them responsibly. They were wrong. Minus lenses are now used routinely to create doctor-caused myopia. The lust for money is at the heart of this evil. If eye doctors felt they could increase their income with myopia prevention, they would change their ways overnight.

The eye doctors will surely react negatively when they learn of this program. They are not going to support our efforts. They will do anything they can to stop it. You must decide what is more important - their income or the vision of our children. And you will have to show that you have the courage to stand up to them. You may find it hard to believe that eye doctors are so evil. It isn't that only evil people become doctors. It seems clear that the vast majority of people who walk this earth are just as bad and care only about themselves and their families. And sometimes they even abuse or do away with their own family members. They don't really care about others. The definition of a sociopath is "someone who behaves in a dangerous way towards other people and does not feel guilty about such behavior." That applies perfectly to eye doctors. And this same lack of interest in cause and prevention prevails throughout the entire medical establishment. The money is to be made in treating a medical problem, not in preventing it. During the last century, over 160 million humans were slaughtered in warfare by other humans. Where is our compassion for others?

People also have an infinite capacity for self-delusion and can convince themselves that they are doing nothing wrong, especially when greed is involved. Do tobacco companies care about the misery caused by their products? Of course not. They would like to get all our children addicted to tobacco and have them as lifelong customers. Did Wall Street bankers care about how many lives they ruined when they created worthless mortgage securities, got a fraudulent triple-A rating for them, and sold them around the world? Of course not. Do pharmaceutical companies care how much suffering they cause when they put a growing array of dangerous drugs on the market, many of them unnecessary, poorly tested, and backed by fake research? Of course not. The optical industry is no different. It is engaged in a criminal enterprise that relies on your apathy and ignorance for its success. It is truly a crime against humanity. Someone once said that we are more concerned about a pimple on our nose than a famine in China that kills a million people. There is a lot of truth in that.

I am sure that many school board members themselves are victims of this greed and are therefore at increased risk of future eye disease. Aren't you angry? Don't you want to stop this? This is the time, this is the place, and we are the people to finally end this centuries-old tragedy that is, at this moment, destroying the vision of billions of people.

I am asking for your unanimous agreement that we should proceed as follows:

1 You appoint the Myopia Association to manage your new Myopia Prevention Program.
2 We prepare a document to send to all families explaining the program.
3 We instruct teachers to remind students to sit back from their work.
4 A sign could be posted in each classroom as a reminder also.
5 The school nurse conducts vision screening and notes when any child no longer reads 20/20. The parents are then informed that they have three choices.
    One: Do nothing and watch the vision continue to deteriorate.
    Two: Get glasses from an eye doctor and watch the vision continue to deteriorate even faster.
    Three: Try the preventive approach. We will provide advice and free +3 glasses for those children.
6 Everyone is encouraged to read myopia.org and preventmyopia.org for more information.
7 You refuse any favors from the optical industry, since their goals are incompatible with prevention.

For a sample resolution which a school district can adopt, see Resolution.

To read my book, The Myopia Myth - The Truth About Nearsightedness And How To Prevent It, see The Myopia Myth.

For more information about me, see Author's Biography.

As another example of how viciously the optical industry acts when it encounters a threat, however small, to its profits, learn how they got the FDA to conduct armed raids on early sellers of pinhole glasses. Read The History of Pinhole Glasses on pinholeglasses.org.

To more fully understand the history of the Myopia Prevention movement and the struggle against the reactionary forces in the optical industry, read myopia.org.

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After sending this information to thousands of school boards across the country, it has become clear that local board members either do not have the intellectual capability needed to understand the seriousness of this problem or they just don't care. They will do nothing on their own initiative. Some have said that they are required by their State Department of Education to refer children to a licensed eye doctor when any child does not pass the vision test. The form used in PA can be seen at Vision Screening Referral. The form which the eye doctor fills out for return to the school can be seen at Eye Specialist Report. These documents are taken from from Procedures For The Vision Screening Program For Pennsylvania's School-age Population, published by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. This system is a disaster, because it will insure that minus lenses will be used to treat myopia and start the child down the road to destroyed vision.

The proper course of action would be for school boards to look at the research and not rely on the opinions of biased eye doctors. Then they could provide helpful advice to the parents. Since this action is not likely, I propose that our State Departments of Education require that local school boards give a second document to the parents along with the Vision Screening Referral whenever myopia is diagnosed. Then the parents will at least know what their options are. My proposed document can be seen at Your Myopia Options.

However, since the departments of education and health are dominated by the optical industry and other special interests, they will likely do nothing. The probable result, which is being explored at this time, is a class action suit or suits brought against these two bureaucracies by thousands of people who have suffered loss of vision at their hands. The law firm that takes on this task will gain a place in the history books.

Any questions? Send us an Email.