“IT is one thing to show a man that he is in error and another to put him in possession of the truth.:.
LOCKE, On Human Understanding.
A little while ago a friend of ours was spending the week-end at Brighton. She was a great walker and set out for a days tramp on the Downs. The sun was shining at first, but during the morning the wind rose and clouds came up, accompanied by heavy rain. There were bright intervals, however, and so she sheltered until the storms had passed and then resumed her walk. But the rain came on again in then resumed her walk. But the rain came on again in the afternoon, and when dusk came about four oclock it was made darker by a thick mist.
Our friend became very anxious, as there was no sign of the main road and she has lost her sense of direction. After wandering about for some time, the darkness now coming on very fast, she at last glimpsed a road in the distance, which eventually she reached. She was then lucky enough to meet a passing car and was given a lift back to Brighton.
On returning to her hotel out friend ordered tea, and settled down to read a book whilst she recovered from her alarming experience. Imagine her dismay when she found that the print was blurred and she could not read. Even the welcome cup of tea failed to relieve this condition.
Fortunately for herself our friend was well versed in the methods described in these articles ; accordingly she retired to her room, splashed her closed eyes with cold and warm water alternately, “palmed” (this exercise has been described in another article) and did some special exercise known as “swinging”.
The most helpful of these exercises on this occasion consisted of swinging the head ( with the eyes closed) gently and easily towards each shoulder. This releases the nervous tension by freeing the muscles of the neck and improving the blood and nerve supply to the head and eyes. On returning to the lounge our friend found that she could now read with ease and comfort.
This story shows how sensitive the eyes are, how quickly the vision is impaired and yet how quickly it is restored again by the proper methods. This friend might have hurried off to the oculist if she had not known of these principles. Instead she realize that her eye trouble was due to her anxiety during the afternoon, and that exercises designed to soothe her frayed nerves would restore her vision.
We hear frequently of people who, strained by the black-out and their working conditions are resorting to glasses the young as well as the old. Supporting the eyes by eye-crutches will ultimately lead to weaker sight and complicated eye-troubles. Remember that the eyes are only tired and strained by the existing trying conditions. We have had an extremely cold winter and it is the first winter of the war. We have to adjust and re- adjust ourselves to constantly changing circumstances. Life is most uncertain we are living as it were on the edge of a volcano.
We claim that this method is within the reach of everyone. Even the busiest worker can find time to follow the few simple rules necessary to relieve the strain on the eyes.
The function of the eyes is to look at objects around us. When a photograph is taken by the retina (the sensitive plate at the back of the eye) this photograph should be registered by the mind. Therefore we should look at what we want to see. This point is very important. We are all apt to use our eyes thoughtlessly, peering at object, staring unseeingly whilst day-dreaming, and forcing the eyes to go on working after the danger signal has been given. This danger signal is a burning or a gritty sensation in the eyes, blurring of print, etc. It is good to get into the habit of closing the eyes as much as possible when not actually wanting to see.
When occupied in near work of any kind form the habit of changing the focus frequently, by looking up and seeing a picture on the wall of the clock or another person who is the room. This change of focus rests the eye. It is also helpful when reading to look from the black print to the white margin, noticing the contrast. After a few seconds the print appears blacker, and the white background whiter by contrast, as the eyes become rested.
If this simple exercise is properly understood the print will almost appear to be magnified, so quickly do the eyes, respond to gentle use. Blinking at regular intervals is also invaluable for resting tired eyes, and the momentary “black-out” changes the focus and releases the muscles.
The majority of people start wearing glasses for close work soon after the age of forty. We have been brought up to believe that at this comparatively early age the muscles of our eyes have become weak and that the lens is hardening. It is true that the tissue of the body and the various organs undergo a change as age advances. It is possible however to retard this process.
Animals that are cooped up in pens, zoos, or homes where they do not get sufficient exercise of the right food become fat, flabby and old before their time. Their eyes are weak and their vision dim. The smaller type of dog is subject to discharging eyes due to over-petting and too much of a fireside life. We can take this as an object lesson for ourselves.
The human eye responds to proper exercise, healthy diet and regular intervals of rest. The process of accommodation of the eye (that of changing the focus from distance to the near vision) is very little understood, and there are conflicting theories as to how the eye performs this important function. It is certain, however, that presbyopia (old age sight) can be prevented by the methods which we are describing in these articles.
Let us consider for a moment the life of the country labourer of the last generation. He worked hard on the land and had the advantage of the open air with the distant views over fields and hills, which gave him a variety of focus. In contrast to this variety of focus during the day he exercised his near vision at night by reading small print by lamp or candle light. We know that it was customary in these families to read a portion of the Bible before retiring. Unquestionably glasses were not nearly so prevalent then as they are today.
Statistics in recent years have proved that there is more short sight in the towns than in the villages. This is due to the fact than in the town in the villages. This is due to the fact that in the towns the tall buildings crowded to together cause great limitation of our distant vision. Statistics again show that persons leading a sedentary life, doing close work such as desk work, sewing, etc., need glassed for old age sight five of six years earlier than the housewife or person leading a less confined life, where a greater variety of focus is possible. This proves that the eyes respond to exercise and proper use.
Think of the young girl or youth starting work in an office for the first time particularly if they are unsuited to this work. In the first place the office is probably stuffy and badly lighted. There is also the strain and stuffy and badly lighted. There is also the strain and anxiety caused by the unfamiliar work, and the worry of finding out the new routine. Sooner or latter eye- strain will manifest itself and it is aggravated by the fear that the eyes are being harmed and that the person will not be able to do the work efficiently.
This fear is a dangerous factor as it increases the strain. The result of this condition is that he or she rushes off to an oculist or optician and a pair of glasses is prescribed. Then, as we explained in our article last month, glasses become a permanent habit and have frequently to be strengthened.
We come now to the fortunate person who has normal eyesight and leads an ordinary normal life, being free to take exercise when and how he pleases. Between the age of forty and fifty he or she will find that they have a little difficulty in reading the telephone book perhaps, or in sewing at night. This inconvenience passes almost unnoticed at first. Then they gradually become aware of the fact that they are holding the book a little farther away than usual, or that they cannot thread a needle.
Any kind of worry or indisposition will rapidly increase this eye trouble, with blurred vision, hot burning eyes with a pricking sensation and sometimes headaches. The usual outcome of this state of affairs is a visit to the oculist and a pair of spectacles.
Glasses in these cases are entirely unnecessary. As we have said before it is partly habit of thought because we expect our eyes to give out at this age. Friends and relatives suggest to each other that glasses are necessary. We do not expect the muscles of our arms or legs to become impaired at this time of life, why then should we think it natural for the muscles of our eyes naturally, rested them sufficiently and used them correctly, old age sight and what is even more important serious eye troubles would be avoided.
Innumerable cases have testified to this. Glasses can be avoided or dispensed with at any age, even at eighty.
The following case will illustrate the effects of eye-strain upon a healthy, normal individual and how quickly a cure was effected by simply teaching him how to relax his eyes.
A clergyman came to see us one day, a fine, well-set-up man, full of vitality and good humour. One thing alone marred his genial countenance a pair of red and inflamed eyes. He was about fifty-six years of age and had worn glasses for fifteen years. He could not see to read without his glasses, neither could he see his congregation from the pulpit. He had several pairs of glasses, but none of them gave him eye comfort. He complained of headaches, and was unable to read at night. This was very inconvenient because he was a great student and he had no leisure in the daytime owing to his work.
This patient was taught to rest his eyes by closing them frequently and palming for short intervals whenever possible. He was also given a card of microscopic print at which he exclaimed, “I shall never read this !” It was explained to him that he was not expected to read it, but that small print is more restful to the eyes than large print. He was shown how to look restfully at this card, blinking frequently and merely comparing the blackness of the print with the white background.
We explained to him that it is possible to strain when reading large print, but that the eyes must be relaxed to see small print. Ordinary print became easier to read after looking quietly at the microscopic type, and gradually the ciliary muscle (the muscle of accommodation) grew stronger by this exercise.
In a few weeks our patient was able to dispense with both distant and near glasses. He wrote joyfully to acquaint us with this fact and also announced that he could read the microscopic print.
It is deplorable to see so many people wearing glasses when they might be enjoying their natural heritage of beautiful eyes and good vision.
The fact is certain that Old Age Sight does respond to this comparatively new method. Palming, rest and exercises all help first to loosen the strained eye muscles and then to revitalize them.