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The Problem With Glasses

It is common for those who are looking for more information about eyesight and glasses that they seek proof that glasses are bad or that glasses damage eyesight or the opposite and seek assurance that glasses improve eyesight and their vision will not be damaged by wearing glasses or contact lenses.

It is important to realise that glasses ( and contact lenses ) are NOT designed to resolve your eyesight problems, they merely attempt to correct the refractive error. Glasses treat the symptom not the underlying cause and can never therefore improve your natural eyesight. Because glasses were invented before products were required to prove their safety - they have never been proved safe and NO research has ever been published that proves that glasses are safe. It is a damning indictment on the governing bodies that such research has not been commissioned - I will leave it to the reader to speculate as why this might be.

Sadly, there is little doubt that glasses can damage eyesight. The evidence supporting this conclusion is overwhelming and I lay it out so that you can draw your own conclusions.

Glasses are not Scientifically Correct

In 1969, Joseph J. Kennebeck an Optometrist of over 50 years experience wrote a book called "Why Glasses are Harmful for Children and Young People". He very clearly lays out the technical problem with glasses. For those suffering with Myopiai he writes:

"Glasses fitted at twenty feet are harmful and habit-forming at 20 feet and beyond... Inside of 20 feet the glasses are many times worse. Glasses are wrong at every foot inside of twenty feet. At ten feet the glasses are twice wrong ; at five feet they are four times wrong; at one foot they are twenty times wrong... this is the reason glasses are not scientifically correct... eyes cannot compensate through glasses made for twenty for all other distances, WITHOUT BEING HURT ... This is what brings on progressive Myopia, which could have been prevented if the glasses had never been worn ..."
Source: Kennebeck, p:26-27.

What Kennebeck is pointing out here is that because general lenses are designed to work at 20 feet, when a subject looks at a closer object the eye is forced to over-accommodate to compensate for the lenses. The nearer the object the worse the strain, this strain leads to progressive Myopia. Kennebeck goes on to say:

"Nearsighted and farsighted glasses will create more of the same problem for which the lenses were prescribed and worn. If left alone, without glasses and the incorrect eye habits in all close work were stopped, the eyes would return toward normal"

He points out that the problem applies to both near and far-sights and that if the poor vision habits are remedied and glasses NOT worn - eyesight would naturally return towards normal.

Testing The Worse Case Scenario

Given the above limitations and problems with optical lenses one would assume that Opticians might try to reduce this strain by prescribing the weakest lenses practicable. But this is not so, they test for the very worst case scenario - ensuring that any prescription is almost certainly too strong for general use. In the case of Myopia, this places the eyes under substantial near stress when observing near objects and in the case of Hyperopia, far stress when observing far objects. The irony is that without glasses - the subjects would normally be able to see perfectly clearly without strain at these stress points.

When this scenario is considered with children it becomes even more concerning. Children are growing and there seems little doubt their eyes will naturally adapt to reduce the strain created by glasses, potentially creating long term eyesight problems. It must be remembered that children at school are required to do a large amount of close work, reading, writing, talking to their companions, all at a range of between 1-3 ft, wearing glasses designed to work at 20ft. This means that their eyes come under a huge amount of strain as their eyes attempt to compensate for the lenses.

Interfering with Natural Visual Biofeedback

Blur is a natural biofeed back mechanism that informs the visual system that adjustment may be necessary. Glasses or contact lenses neutralises this natural biofeedback mechanism and prevent the eye self-correcting any refractive problems. With glasses on - the clear vision becomes a false signal, telling the brain that everything is fine when in-fact the eyes are under increased strain and everything is well out of kilter! Glasses effectively "lock-in" the visual error but do nothing to resolve the underlying cause - the continuing influence of which may cause the visual error to continue to get worse in the absense of remedy or effective bio-feedback. The body does not like a constant condition of stress. The eye also does not want to operate under a constant condition of stress. It wants to be relaxed for distance, with the ciliary muscle contracting only for brief periods of close focusing. That is the goal of the visual feedback system, refining the length of the eye to attain maximum efficiency.

Visual Field Distortion

Glasses for Myopia (-) cause the image to be magnified and there is a loss of visual field around the perifery. Glasses for Hyperopia (+) causes the image to be smaller and creates double objects and part object in the perifery. These effects can be confusing and distressing on the subject until they become "accustomed" to it. Good eyesight relies on periferal vision for locating points of interest and attention. Recent research has indicated that wearing glasses can cause a reduction in this important part of vision and result in a reduced amount of periferal attention.

Opthtomologist Experience

In recent years many eye-care professionals and doctors have become very uneasy about glasses and many have had the courage to speak out, at considerable risk to their careers. Here are a few examples of what they say ...

"Minus lenses are the most common approach, yet the least likely to prevent further myopic (nearsighted) progression. Unfortunately, they increase the near-point stress that is associated with progression."
B.May, OEP Publications

"The emphasis on compensatory lenses has posed a problem for many
years in our examinations. These lenses do not correct anything and may not serve the patient in his best interests over a period of time.

CJ. Forkiortis, OEP Curriculum

"Single-vision minus lenses for full-time use produce accommodative
insufficiency associated with additional symptoms until
the patient gets used to the lens. This is usually accompanied by a
further increase in myopia and the cycle begins anew."

M.H.Birnbaum, Review of Optometry.