From Why Eyeglasses Are Harmful For Children And Young People, © 1969 Joseph J. Kennebeck, O.D.


I have said that corrective measures can only be determined after an eye examination, under the proper theory and method. From what I have said in my book, many eyemen could reason out what the corrective measures might be and use whatever they want to. If they wish to know what I use, they would have to contact me. However, if enough interest is shown, I might write up what I do in most ordinary cases. But I must insist that the main thing to do is to DISCIPLINE children and young people in the use of their eyes and never prescribe glasses for wear. Corrective measures are secondary.

It is very much like the vaccine for the prevention of polio. They do not say, and very few know, what is in the vaccine. It is only known that it is necessary to have the shots to prevent polio. That is true of other shots, and medical prescriptions also. Patients do not know what is in them, yet they accept them.

It is the same with corrective measures for the eyes of children and young people. It is strange how all believe in and accept glasses as a remedy without question, although patients know nothing about them. Eyemen say to the patient, "You Need Glasses," without explaining just what kind of lenses will be used, what is the prescription, and why, or what glasses will and will not do to the eyes.

Corrective measures are corrective measures-whatever is necessary for the treatment of whatever the case might be. Just what they are and for what case (and there are too many types of cases), cannot be included in my book. While the vaccine is the same for all in the prevention of polio, corrective measures are different for different types of eye cases. The case would have to be known before the type of corrective measures could be determined.


I recently had a case whom we shall call Jack C., age sixteen. Visual acuity was a poor 6/200, dynamic skiametry a hazy reflex of high minus. He had been wearing minus 18.00, minus 1.00, axis 180·, for a year, and had worn glasses for seven years. With this prescription he had only poor 20/200 vision. It was a case of high amblyopia in both eyes. With the glasses he could hardly read #6 type at three or four inches. His too-strong lenses gave too little improvement in seeing.

During my examination I found that he could do as well with his own eyes without glasses. Therefore, he had been misfitted with the above lenses, which made his bad eyes even worse. But because he had sub-normal amblyopia, it was thought by the patient, the school nurse, and his eyeman that he must have some kind of glasses.

Jack was a dull sort of person, one who would be difficult to examine; it would be equally difficult to arrive at what lenses should be prescribed. He must have been even more difficult at the age of nine, when he got his first glasses. He had misused his eyes for too long before that, and no doubt he had been misfitted at that time, and since. Even now, he stated that he could see better through his brother's thin-lensed glasses than he could with his own thick-lensed glasses. Jack was a poor reader. About the best he could do was the three- or four-letter words, holding the reading three or four inches from his eyes, and his eyes hurt when doing close work with his glasses.

I do not claim that corrective measures will help him, but I do claim that he would not be hurt, and could be helped, by taking his glasses away from him, which should have been done long before. It is too late now to do much for him, and only time will tell.

The point I wish to make is that it would have been better to have done nothing than to prescribe misfitted glasses.


Richard S. was examined in 1953 as follows: Vision right eye 20/200; left eye 8/200. Dynamic skiametry test: right farsighted structural astigmatism plus 4.50, axis 105 degrees; left eye, nearsighted minus 4.50. This case had two radically different eyes; he had high diopter farsighted structural astigmatism in the right eye, and high diopter nearsightedness in the left eye.

At the age of six, when entering first grade, the school nurse was not satisfied with the results of his vision test. She asked that he be taken to an eye specialist, which was done. After a lengthy examination, the specialist reported that Richard's eyes had been stabbed by instruments at birth, and most of his vision was gone. He was fitted at once with strong glasses, as the parents were told that it would not be safe for him to cross the street with his poor vision. Richard did not like the glasses, and he was taken to other eye doctors, always hoping they would find some new help. They were always told the same thing; that his case was hopeless.

When Richard reached the age of sixteen, a new friend told the parents about having her vision restored under my theory and method. Richard was brought to me. I analyzed his case, testing each eye separately as to its condition, took his glasses away from him, and started corrective measures. He reported faithfully, with full cooperation. I had to treat each eye separately, and he began to show improvement. Later when he was called up by the army for his physical examination, he passed his vision test. He had no trouble getting his driver's license. Without glasses, he received his Masters degree in education with all of the attendant reading and studying.

. . . . . .

Practically all of the above history was taken from a testimonial letter written by his mother in January, 1967, wherein she said she was grateful for his good eyes, and the fact that they did not give up when they were told that his vision was almost entirely gone, and nothing could help his eyes. Most of all they were grateful to me for what I was able to do for him.

I do not say that I made his eyes normal, but I did make it possible for him to live and get his education without glasses, and I kept his eyes from going the way they would have gone with glasses.


Another severe case concerns a woman patient in her fifties, from Sioux City, Iowa. She and her husband were on vacation in California, where they heard of my work. They stopped to see me on their way back.

Her case was one of high 40 degree vertical muscular imbalance, called right hypertropia, combined with some estropia. This means that the right eye actually turned up and inward, while the left eye was straight or, vice versa, the left eye turned down and inward, while the right eye was straight. A degree or two of such a condition is bad enough, but in her case it was 40 degrees.

She was wearing 40 degrees of prism, fitted by a well-known specialist at a well-known State University clinic eight years before. Her glasses were so heavy the nose pads made depressions deep into the bridge of her nose. She was highly nervous, in poor health, and her family thought she was becoming a mental case. She had another pair of prism glasses, slightly stronger, fitted four years before by the same specialist. I have both pairs.

I deliberately removed her prisms, giving her just ordinary plano bifocals to be used only for close work, totally ignoring the muscular imbalance. I advised her that she would have to live with the imbalance, closing one eye, if necessary, to eliminate any double vision. She did as I advised.

Six months later she was back for a checkup. She was a new person in most every way; she could do close work and driving and was in better health. Her family no longer thought she was becoming a mental case. She still had some muscular imbalance, but was much improved. Again, six months later, she was back for another checkup, still going strong and more improved.

I do not mean to say that I cured her severe muscular imbalance (tropia), but I did make it possible for her to live, and be happy, without the 40 degree prism lenses. The prisms she was wearing not only kept her from improving, but created more of the same for which they were prescribed.


No one can truthfully scoff at what I have written against glasses for children and young people under the age of thirty-five. Untruthful scoffers will do anything to try to justify the wearing of glasses, in order to save face and not be proven wrong for what they have been doing all these years. Scoffers will say that fifty thousand eyemen and millions of eyeglass wearers, in our country alone, cannot be wrong. Scoffers will say that if there was another way-without glasses-they would have known it long ago. Scoffers will insist that child behavior depends on vision training, meaning prism orthoptics and glasses, when all the child needed was DISCIPLINE in the use of their eyes no prism orthoptics, and no glasses. God help the scoffers, for they know not what they do.

It has been said that about 90 per cent of the people are honest, but this may not be so in the instance of eyes and glasses. It has also been said that this is a country of free speech. That is probably true as long as one is in favor of glasses for the eyes, but not so true if one raises his voice against glasses. Scoffers in favor of glasses for the masses would crucify the one who raises his voice against them. However, if there are enough honest people who will understand and do what I have done about it for the past forty-four years, in thousands of cases, then we will not have to worry about the few scoffers. They will have to come around sooner or later.

Scoffers should be skeptical of glasses, instead of otherwise. But scoffers will say they do not have the time and do not want to bother with anything but glasses. Little do they understand what they say. A pair of human eyes is priceless. The time will come when scoffers will wish they had listened to reason and had done what they should have done at a younger age.


The "hippies" and "yippies" are not the only ones who put on modern and antique glasses for effect. Many normal people, particularly the male species, do the same, even children and young people. If all such glasses had plano lenses they could neither help nor hurt the eyes, but none of them are piano lenses. Practically all of them are prescription lenses of more or less power. They do not know what they are doing to their eyes. Let them grow beards, mustaches, and long hair, but for the good of their eyes they should forget the glasses.

Normal people used to put their best foot forward by using their dress and appearances in order to make an impression. Today glasses are worn as a status symbol to make this same impression. They must do something to create an effect. With glasses on, they are the life of the party; with their glasses off, they are a flop.

I cite a case of a man who wore glasses all of his life for nearsightedness. He would never take my corrective measures, but I directed him in the second-best way, allowing his vision to tend toward normal over a period of time, as he grew older. At the age of sixty his vision was normal for distance, and because of his past history of nearsightedness, he could also read the finest print. He could do entirely without glasses, but he would not do so. I gave him plain lenses, which he still wears all the time. He would not be caught anyplace without glasses; they were part of his person. He was glass-minded to an extreme degree.

I mentioned his case to several other men patients who consulted me, men with similar cases. They said that they could understand it. I understand also, since I know now that glasses are worn by many for more reasons than the supposed need to see. However, while I work with them and do what they ask, I dislike being a part of prescribing phony glasses for reasons other than real refractive eye trouble.


Here is an example of how a principal of a grade school believed in glasses for young school children until it hit home when he changed his tune.

I was treating several young students of a grade school with corrective measures, instead of glasses. The school nurse brought it to the attention of the school principal. He stormed about it, getting in touch with the parents, telling them I was a quack, and insisted that the children must have glasses.

The parents reported it to me. I convinced the parents that the principal was wrong and unfair, and that he did not know about me and my work. That evening I mentioned it to my wife, who was a grade school teacher and also an attorney.

Unknown to me, my wife contacted the principal and tried to explain and reason with him, telling him that he was wrong and making himself liable. He defied her, saying again that I was a quack and a crook, and that sooner or later I would be caught.

Not too long after that, the school nurse reported to him that his two granddaughters had failed the school eye test and were in need of glasses. This he did not like. He did not want his own grandchildren to wear glasses, so they were brought to me. I caught them in time, and their refractive eye trouble was corrected without glasses.

In other words, the principal believed in glasses for other young children of his grade school, but not for his own two grandchildren. The principal changed his mind when it hit home.


The most important instruments for eyemen to have when making eye examinations are the retinoscope and phoropter, and along with them a trial case plus a test chart. With them the examiner can determine the refractive and muscular eye condition.

There are other more or less novel and tricky, although less important instruments that eyemen could do without, but they are used mostly to make an impression on the patient. I could not name them all. One instrument in particular is what is known as the ophthalmometer, or keratometer. Almost every eyeman has one. There is no doubt that the use of it makes a big impression on the patient, who thinks the eyeman is looking into the depth of his eyes and his brain.

The ophthalmometer is an impressive looking instrument, large in size when compared to a retinoscope. It sits on its own stand, has a chin rest for the patient, a telescope-like tube the patient looks into from one end, and a disc with lighted mires that reflect on the cornea. It is viewed from the other end of the tube by the eyeman, who turns dials or wheels that line up the mires which are reflected on the patient's cornea. That is all. It does not look into the patient's eyes beyond the cornea, as patients would imagine.

The opthalmometer shows no more than the conical curvature of the eyeball. If the curvature is equal in all meridians, there is no astigmatism; if it is unequal there is astigmatism. The difference in the curvatures of the cornea give the amount of astigmatism, and its axis. Astigmatism and its axis can be determined in an equally good or better way by dynamic skiametry, making the use of the ophthalmometer unnecessary. There is no need for both, unless an eyeman uses both to make an impression on the patient. Knowing the base curvature of the cornea is unimportant except in contact lens fitting, and I am opposed to contact lenses. We know that practically all corneal curvatures are around 47 diopters, more or less. Knowing this does not help in the fitting of glasses.

I have an ophthalmometer. I discarded its use forty-four years ago in favor of dynamic skiametry. I still have it, just sitting there, so that no patient can say I do not have one.

I have also discontinued the projecto chart, in favor of a plain Snellen white cardboard test chart, which is the sharpest black on white target for testing. The projecto chart letters are weaker, almost transparent black, and the white is a hazy white. It is nice to have in an office, but not the best target. Patients should have the sharpest black and white target chart possible for testing their visual acuity.

Other unnecessary instrumentation would be the amblyoscope which is made up of powerful plus lenses in the eyepiece of the tubes, having mirrors instead of prisms. The tubes are L-shaped, one for each eye, with a swivel joint between them so that they can be moved apart or together. At the other end of the tube are celluloid slides, one having a bird, the other a cage. The idea is to hold the amblyoscope to the eyes which look through the powerful plus lenses, into the mirrors, to the bird and the cage, moving the tubes together or apart to put the bird in the cage. The powerful plus lenses are sedatives to the circular ciliary muscles of farsighted eyes, which are in need of a stimulant. They would not be so bad for nearsighted eyes, but nearsighted eyes need better than that. It is a trick instrument that we could do without.

The stereoscope is a similar instrument having powerful plus lenses, combined with prisms instead of mirrors. It is held up to the face; the eyes look through the lenses to a double-picture card. The card is moved back or forth to the point where the eyes see depth, or third dimension, in the picture. The lenses affect the circular ciliary muscles about the same as that described for the amblyoscope. The prism in the lenses affects the extrinsic muscles, which are not in need of such effect. It is another trick instrument that we could do without.

Then there is the twenty-one point technique eye examination, which had its beginning about the same time as mine some forty years ago. It was promoted to the point where it is officially recognized by our local, state, and national associations, as a standard system for eye examinations. However, not all members of the associations are followers of the system. I for one have never been a member although I have been solicited all these years. Its promoters have been given credit they do not deserve. I feel that it, and its promoters, should be thrown overboard for teaching a system that carries its followers deeper into the mire of misunderstanding. As per my book, I tell of only a few points eye examination to know the cause of the refractive and muscular eye troubles. There is no need for a twenty-one point technique.


One day at lunch, two men sat at a table next to mine. I could not help but hear what they were talking about. The subject was eyes and glasses. Right across from me sat a cocky little ophthalmologist. I knew who he was, but he did not know who I was. The man next to me asked the ophthalmologist, "How in the world can you fit glasses to a baby or young child who cannot read letters on a test chart?"

The ophthalmologist replied, "Oh, that's easy. We have an instrument known as the retinoscope, which throws a light into the eyes. If the eyes are not normal there will be a shadow, showing the error of refraction. Then we neutralize that shadow with lenses placed before the eyes. The lenses it takes to do that is the prescription for glasses to wear."

The other man said, "Oh, I see," as if to say that he still had his doubts, but did not know enough about the subject to say more.

Eyemen can get away with that with such young patients. They do not know whether the glasses are right or wrong. They love the novelty of the glasses, and will wear whatever prescription is given them. They even want to sleep with the glasses on. The parents think that all is well; the glasses are a perfect fit, and the eyeman did a wonderful job. The young patient's eyes grow worse from that point on.

Let the eyemen try to do that-fitting glasses from the retinoscopic findings alone-with adults, and he will find he cannot get away with it. Adults can quickly tell if their glasses are right or wrong, as glasses go. Eyemen are wise enough to know this, and the final prescription is arrived at after a subjective (chart) test. Eyemen would not dare try to fit glasses to an adult from the retinoscopic test alone, as they do with young patients. What eyemen cannot do with adults they cannot do for young patients.

But eyemen want it to be known that they can prescribe glasses for patients of any age. Thus all glasses for such young patients are misfitted glasses. It would be better to wear no glasses at all than misfitted glasses, while the young patients' eyes are in the process of development. This kind of eyework needs to be exposed.


While I am concerned mostly about the eyes of children and young people under the age of thirty-five, following are a few words about the eyes of adults.

Most adults wear bifocals. A few wear what are called reading glasses (non-bifocals). Of the two, bifocals are the safest to wear because the distance is clearer when they look up and away. Reading glasses are too blurred when they look up and away, which is not good for the eyes. Reading glass wearers will say that they remove them when they look up and away. They cannot do this fast and often enough for the good of their eyes. As a result, they will create more presbyopia for near and farsightedness for distance than they would have if bifocals had been worn.

Having bifocals does not mean that they should be worn all the time. It only means that when they do wear them they can see when they look up and away. Wearing them all the time means that when they are not doing close work, such as when walking, too often they look down through the bifocal segments, far beyond the reading distance, which is almost as bad for the eyes as reading glasses.

If one wears bifocal glasses for distance all the time, it would be wise to do something that very few will do, and that is to have a pair of glasses for distance only, without a bifocal. With these one could walk better, go up and down stairs, curbs, etc., without blurring or stumbling. Too many have had accidents just from wearing bifocals. Of course, one should also have bifocals for reading and close work, switching them when necessary. This may seem to be more or less trouble to do, but it would be safer for them and better for the eyes.

By all means, nearsighted adults should have bifocals long before the seeming need. If they are nearsighted enough, they should do their reading and close work without glasses as much as possible, even if they have bifocals, or if it seems that they have to hold their reading closer. Sooner or later they will get more range. Better yet, it would be good if they would wear their nearsighted glasses less and less for distance as they grow older, and have the lens power reduced as often as possible. In this way they might become normal over a period of time.


Sties do not come from so-called eyestrain. They sometimes turn into cysts. Certainly glasses are not the remedy for them.

Sties come from a bug or germ getting into the roots of the eyelashes, setting up a pus sac. Children and young people play with and handle dogs, cats, or other animals or birds. They rub their eyes with their unclean hands causing the sties. They could also come from colon bacillus transferred by the hand to the eyes, after carelessness at the stool or elsewhere.

Sties come and go. There may be several in succession, or at one time in one or both eyes, all from the same cause. Stop the cause, use hot packs, do not rub the eyes, and keep the hands clean thereafter. The sties will be gone in time.


Other than from infection, bloodshot eyes are often caused by physical exertion, such as stooping, bending, wrestling, lifting, running up stairs, etc., done too strenuously. Small veins in the white of the eyes are broken and seep blood, causing the bloodshot eyes. Continued exertions keep breaking the veins. Only rest and quiet will heal the veins, so that they will not be easily broken again and again, and the bloodshot eyes will clear. Bloodshot eyes could come from doing too much close work too hard, without looking up and away. They are a poor symptom for the supposed need of glasses. Those who wear glasses for bloodshot eyes will also have them with glasses, from the causes mentioned above. Eyewashes are a poor temporary remedy for bloodshot eyes from the same causes. Ordinary bloodshot eyes should not be confused with pinkeye, or other infections.

Lids swollen all the way across are usually from a cold settled in the eyes. This will be gone in a short time.


While other eyemen spent their time thinking of other subjects, such as how to fit more glasses, details of contact lens fitting, field testing, blind spots, maculae, and other less important things pertaining to eyes and glasses, under the old traditions, I have spent my time working out a theory and method for the elimination of glasses and contact lenses for children and young people, to give them better eyes and a safer future.

As I explained, I am opposed to fitting (misfitting) glasses for wear for children and young people. I prefer to DISCIPLINE them in the use of their eyes, and watch and wait for the eyes to improve without glasses with or without corrective measures.

In contact lens work, others go into great detail as to just what the curves of the contact lenses should be, how flat or how steep, dealing in fractions of millimeters; in other words, "splitting hairs" as to specifications, etc. This is all for naught, because as with glasses, eyes cannot improve and must grow worse with contact lenses. Of the two, glasses would be safer to wear, as they do not deteriorate or degenerate the surface of the cornea or cause ulcerations, which could lead to complications. However, both have their faults.

Field testing amounts to little and accomplishes nothing, even in adult cases. Expecting eyes to detect a small target away off-center, while concentrating on a center point, is like expecting eyes to see at near, while looking at far, or seeing far while looking at near. Few people can do that. Few if any eyes have enough restricted fields to bother them in their seeing. Even if there is a more or less restricted field, little or nothing can be done about it, and they have to live with it. I have yet to find a patient who complained of, or had symptoms of a restricted field in their vision.

All eyes have their blind spot and macula. I see no good reason for even mentioning them, unless one wishes to make an impression on the patient. In refractive eye work, we should spend our time in the study of the circular ciliary muscles, dynamic skiametry, and the subjective tests. Study of the above-mentioned is secondary.


Screening of children's eyes in school is all right if done with patience and understanding. Too often a child is too timid to respond to school tests, is classed as a failure, and a note is sent to parents, who rush the child to an eyeman who invariably fits (misfits) the child with glasses. Then all is supposed to be well. The next year the child fails the eye test, this time with glasses on. A note is sent to the parents again, and a change of lenses is made, as the eyes have gone worse. This goes on and on every year or two thereafter.

The child must be able to see what is on the blackboard. So many children are going nearsighted that it would be better if the blackboard would be abolished. The nearsighted children can do close work without glasses. The glasses they get to be able to see the blackboard are twenty times wrong for close work. That is one reason why they all grow progressively worse with glasses.

What they need, if they fail in the screening eye test, is discipline in the use of the eyes and no glasses. Some teachers issue a certificate or give prizes for students who read the most books in a short period of time. This should not be done even for good eyes, unless the teachers see to it that the reading was done at a correct distance, under good incandescent light, looking up and away often. Most refractive eye troubles of children and young students can be blamed on their school work being done wrong. If they did it right, there would be few, if any, refractive eye troubles.

Therefore school eye tests, to screen out the ones showing incipient refractive eye troubles, are all right, but they should be disciplined in the use of their eyes and not urged to get glasses. The bad cases should seek an eyeman who can give corrective measures.


There is one great day that practically all boys, and most girls, look forward to from a very young age. The greatest day in their lives comes when they can drive a car.

To do that they have to pass an eye test. If they used their eyes wrong at a younger age, they cannot pass the test. Some cannot pass the test even with glasses, if the glasses are not new, they then get new glasses to pass the test, and they wear them through fear of being caught driving without them. It's "goodbye to eyes" from there on.

Let us not be so sure that wearing glasses makes for safe driving, but glasses do get them by the law. There are as many or more accidents with drivers wearing glasses than those not wearing them. However, the law calls for restrictions and glasses for driving, making it look like the law is right and I am wrong. It make no difference what condition the glasses are in-new or old, bent, dirty, scratched lenses, fit or misfit, as long as it is a pair of glasses. How can any such glasses make for safe driving?

We must know and remember that the lenses in all glasses have only one point of best vision - the optical center. Off-center, the eyes look through prisms, when looking to the right, left, up, or down and in between. Then there are the rims of the eyeglass frames that cut off vision. Outside of the rims there are no lenses. As stated, all glasses are made for twenty feet. They are wrong beyond and inside of twenty feet.

Glasses have many faults. One most important fault is that just when one has to see his best, the lenses fog up. However, with all the faults of glasses, they are worn with confidence, as if they had no faults at all. The best that can be said for glasses, as said before, is that they are a makeshift, causing more of the same trouble for which they were prescribed and are worn.

Naked eyes have faults too, but none are so bad in the beginning that one has to turn to glasses and wear them constantly, for the rest of one's life. Most of those who wear glasses had no other choice but glasses for wear. However, they could have rejected glasses and gone on as they did up to that time-without them. Instead, they accepted glasses without question. If they had only known better, as this book explains, they could have gotten along and improved their eyes without glasses. Good eyes, without glasses, make for the safest drivers, but they are subjected to the hazardous drivers who wear glasses.