In the days before today's eyecare practitioners went to medical and optometry school, there were a number of brave doctors of optometry who stepped up and challenged the myth that glasses don't make myopia worse. Here are a few excerpts. --Alex
One of my clearest impressions in handling myopia cases is that almost all cases of stationary myopia consist of young people who refuse to wear their correction except for those occasions that make a positive demand for normal vision. Conversely, almost all cases of progressive myopia appear to be individuals who adhere most faithfully to the principle that their corrections must be worn constantly. From a clinical point of view, the conclusion would seem inescapable that minus lenses are an important factor among the causes of progressive myopia.
The bad effects of minus lenses on vision and health have been recognized by many optical men in earlier years, in this and other countries. There have been many voices raised against the promiscuous use of minus glasses at the beginning of th century, and a few feeble voices were heard up to the decade of 1950. In the decade of 1950, the fitting and wearing of minus glasses became the rule rather than the exception.
In the last century, in the land of the Tzars (Russia), minus glasses were sometimes used to evade military conscription. A few months before the appearance for army examination, the conscript went to an optical doctor and got a pair of strong minus glasses which he wore steadily until prior to the examination. He was then sure that he would be rejected on account of his vision. The minus glasses had weakened his eyes and made his distant vision very poor.
In 1914, when the state of Maryland secured its optometry law, a clause was inserted to the effect that optometrists could not prescribe minus lenses to children under 15 years of age "except on an order or advice from a physician." In 1938, Neville Schuller, vision specialist of Toronto, Canada, stated, "I would like to have a law established forbidding the prescribing of minus glasses without extenuating circumstances.
O.D. Rasmussen, O.D., Kent England, stated in his book, "Myopia, in more than ninety-five percent of cases, begins between five and ten years of age. It increases largely because the myopic eye is given distance lenses for reading."
C.P. Rakusen, O.D., Shanghai, China, said, "from my experience in this land of myopes (i.e. China) I have formed strong prejudices against the evil of weak minus prescriptions in all ages."
Samuel Druker of Brooklyn, N.Y., in the Optical Journal of March 15, 1946, wrote, "The suspicion began to dawn on me slowly that among the causes of progressive myopia it might b necessary to list concave lenses themselves. From many articles that have appeared in the past on the subject of 'Optical Poison,' a familiar term a decade ago, many other optometrists appear to have the same idea."
Dr. X said my patient allowed him to go over her eyes, and he reported that he found Miss Y should have minus .50 glasses, the same Rx I found but would not fit at the time, which I told Dr. X. He asked me why I would not prescribe it. I told him that Miss Y's dynamic skiametry findings were plus 2.00 [farsighted], and that I was giving her orthoptic treatment, etc.... He said with WEARING THE MINUS .50 FOR A WEEK OR TWO, THE DYNAMIC SKIAMETRY PLUS 2.00 FINDINGS WOULD BE GONE. .... What became of the plus 2.00 dynamic skiametry findings? Something had to take place, and change. I reasoned that this was eliminating the plus 2.00 skiametry findings, and creating a worse condition. To think that the wearing of minus .50 would do that, and it would, meaning the refractive media would have to become permanently 2 diopters more convex, and that the circular ciliary muscles would have to become stronger than they were--too strong.