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Short Sightedness

by J. H. Hacsi


Be forewarned. If you have a summer baby, the child runs a higher risk of growing up nearsighted – and smart.

Babies born in June or July are twenty-five percent more likely to become severely nearsighted compared to babies born in December or January, according to a recent study.

Michael Belkin of Tel Aviv University, who led the study, said that prolonged illumination lengthens the eyeball and a lengthened eyeball is believed to cause myopia. He advised parents to put sunglasses on their babies for the first few weeks or keep them out of strong sunlight altogether.

It has long been known that nearsightedness runs in families and some researchers now believe it is an inherited genetic disorder, one linked to greater intelligence.

Several studies of young people have shown that those who are nearsighted consistently achieve higher scores on standard intelligence tests than those with normal vision. However, when the test scores of teenagers were compared to the test scores the same students had achieved ten years earlier, it was found that those students who would later become myopic achieved higher scores on their tests even before they became nearsighted. First they were smarter. Later they became nearsighted.

One explanation put forth is that the vision problem is hereditary. The “myopia gene” stimulates the brain in addition to affecting the eye and this explains the finding that nearsighted people are smarter even before they become nearsighted. First they are smarter. Later they become nearsighted.

Myopia has become so frequent in industrialized nations that some researchers have concluded it is an evolutionary adjustment, a step forward as nearsighted people do well in a modern economy.

This view is hotly contested and has been contested since the idea was first suggested.

Those afflicted with myopia can see clearly close up but objects at a distance are blurred. There are several explanations offered for this. The explanation most widely accepted is that the eye is too long, from front to back, causing light rays from distant objects to focus short of the retina.

An amazing experience I had yeas ago is not a fit with the long eye theory.

I was due to go to the DMV to get my driver’s license renewed so I tacked up a standard visual chart to see if I needed new glasses.

I struggled to read the 20/20 line. Then suddenly my vision cleared and I could read not only the 20/20 line but also the two lines below it. It was as though I had been looking at the chart through foggy lenses and somehow they had been wiped clean. I stared in astonishment, then I blinked, and when I next looked across my vision was back to “normal.” I was myself again and had to concentrate to read the 20/20 line.

A friend of mine had an experience somewhat similar to mine. Jan had been nearsighted since her teenage years and suddenly two decades later she seemed miraculously cured. Her vision without glasses was normal. This lasted for a day before she got in to see her ophthalmologist. After listening to her story, the doctor checked her eyes, said she had a mild eye infection and gave her medication to clear up the infection. The medication also restored her vision to “normal.” She was once again nearsighted.

I find it difficult to reconcile the above two experiences with the long eye theory.

There is also what we know about multiple personality disorder. It has been established beyond reasonable doubt that in certain cases one personality will be normal sighted while another is shortsighted. They are both using the same physical eyes. For one personality the eye is shaped n such a way that light coming in focuses properly on the retina while for another personality the focus is off.

Do eyes change shape depending on the personality of the one who is using them? Or is the long eye theory wrong or incomplete?

Various studies have shown that myopes share many personality traits. This would indicate that our emotions have a significant effect upon how well or how poorly we see.

Is myopia more a mental/emotional problem than a physical one? Are we n nearsighted because we are shortsighted?

The incidence of myopia worldwide is epidemic and getting worse. In some Asian countries 70-90% of the population are nearsighted, in Europe and the United States 30-40% are and in Africa 10-20%.

As students advance through school, more become myopic. In sixth grade only about five percent of the children are myopic. This percentage increases to over fifty percent by the time students have finished college and gone into post-graduate work. Two-thirds of graduate honor students are nearsighted.

These numbers would seem to indicate that excessive reading and other close work brings on myopia, although there is another possible explanation. People with normal vision often suffer from eyestrain or headaches if forced to spend long hours hunched over a book. Myopes find reading easy. In consequence, those with normal vision may drop out of school at a far faster rate than myopes do, increasing the percentages of myopic students in college and graduate schools.

“Where there is no vision a people perish.” Proverbs: 20:18

Are we approaching a state where we as a people have no vision? If so, will we perish?

Recent polls report that the majority of the American people feel that our country is “on the wrong track.” We stumble forward from one major crisis to another. As a nation we are contemptuously at odds with one another, the reds against the blues, the conservatives against the liberals. We rid ourselves of one unpopular president only to install another one many no longer trust. It is little wonder that so many people feel a deep despair about our future.

As a people we are becoming increasingly shortsighted, not only with our physical eyes but as a culture. How do we correct our poor vision before we destroy ourselves?

_____

Excerpted from Plagues Past and Present, A Mind/Body/Approach by J. H. Hacsi. Paper, $14.

Available at Baker and Taylor, www.Amazon.com or on order from any bookstore.

_______

 

J. H. Hacsi graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and earlier in her life wrote short stories (over 200 published) and romance novels (eight published). Throughout her life she has been greatly interested in history and science, also the role of the mind and mysticism and has read widely in these fields. She is a widow with five sons and five grandchildren and lives in Claremont, CA.


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