Originally published March 21 2009
Prevent Myopia, Part II: The Importance of Prevention
by Donald Rehm
(NaturalNews) The obvious nuisance and great expense of wearing glasses or contacts for a lifetime is the least of the problem. Few people realize, because the doctor never mentions it, that myopia can lead to serious vision problems, including retinal detachment, macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataract and even blindness. Myopia is actually one of the leading causes of blindness. The more myopia, the greater the risk.
Myopic people are also more bothered by "floaters" in their vision than people with normal vision, sometimes to the point where it seriously interferes with their lives. In addition, more and more people turn to highly-promoted but risky corneal surgery, such as Lasik, in an effort to get rid of the glasses. Many of them end up with worse vision than before and deeply regret the decision to have their corneas reshaped with a burning laser.
As myopia increases, the eye grows longer than it was ever designed to do. The length of the eye can be measured very accurately. This has shown that the eye can be stretched as much as 25% longer than normal. When the retina tears loose from the underlying tissues, the result is retinal detachment and blindness. In other words, in high myopia the eye can literally tear itself apart!
At some point during the enlargement of the eye, a pathological state begins to develop. That means that this is no longer simple myopia, but a diseased eye. Among the main changes are generalized atrophy of the retina and choroid, and degeneration at the point where the optic nerve leaves the eye and in the macular area (where the fovea is located). Hemorrhages can occur at various places. Because of the atrophy at the fovea, central vision begins to be lost.
Similar mechanical and degenerative changes occur in the vitreous. Since the vitreous has become quite watery, large floating spots of degenerative material can be easily seen. The tearing and hemorrhaging of the retina lead to retinal detachment, allowing the watery vitreous to flow between the retina and choroid. The watery condition of the vitreous thus aggravates the tendency toward detached retina. If actual detachment does not occur, the degenerative changes can progress slowly until no useful vision remains. In either case, blindness often results.
Macular degeneration is becoming a widespread problem. While it can be caused by high myopia as described above, it can also be caused by faulty diet. If the capillaries that serve the eye are being clogged with plaque because of a high fat/high cholesterol diet, how can the tissues of the eye get the nutrients and oxygen they need to be healthy? How can the waste products be eliminated? Doesn`t it follow that eye disease can result? Diet is a major factor in cataract and glaucoma as well.
Capillaries are only wide enough to allow red blood cells to pass through one at a time. The cells actually bend as they pass through, giving up their oxygen in the process and taking up carbon dioxide. If the capillaries are narrowed by plaque, this process cannot take place properly. Also, just as fat sticks to your fingers or a frying pan, a diet high in fat and oils of any kind (animal or vegetable) coats the red blood cells and causes them to stick together, like coins in a coin roll, further restricting their proper movement. Visual health is an integral part of total body health.
It is difficult to understand how readily people accept the inherited myopia theory and seem to give no thought to what they are doing when they start their child down the road of needing glasses or contacts for a lifetime. Suppose your child comes home from school on crutches and says:
"Mom, I can`t walk right any more. They say I`ll have to use these crutches the rest of my life and it will only get worse. A third of the other kids in school are also going around on crutches. They say I inherited this, but you and dad aren`t crippled. My grandparents aren`t crippled. I don`t understand this. What`s happening to me?"
Wouldn`t you be asking questions and demanding answers? Wouldn`t you go to the school and the doctors and insist on knowing what they mean by saying this is inherited? Wouldn`t you be going on the Internet to search for information? Wouldn`t you be wondering how your child, perfect in every other way, could suddenly become a cripple at such an early age? Now let`s reword the above statement:
"Mom, I can`t see well any more. They say I`ll have to use glasses the rest of my life and it will only get worse. A third of the other kids in school are also going around with glasses. They say I inherited this, but you and dad aren`t nearsighted. My grandparents aren`t nearsighted. I don`t understand this. What`s happening to me?"
A typical parental response might be, "Son, the doctors know best. We`ll go to town tomorrow and get you some glasses." Why this paradox? Why aren`t parents more concerned? Is it because glasses have become a "fashion item?" The choice is yours. Will you make the right decision? The fact is that doctors don`t always know best. While you are asking yourself these questions, here are some questions you can ask your eye doctor:
1. Are you aware that many researchers are convinced that prolonged close work causes myopia?
2. Are you aware of evidence that increased computer use is contributing to more children becoming nearsighted?
3. What proof do you have that the distance glasses that are usually prescribed won`t make my child`s vision worse?
4. Doesn`t reading in poor light make the eyes focus more and cause myopia to increase?
5. Shouldn`t my child hold the book as far away as possible to relax the focusing muscles?
6. Isn`t it true that allowing myopia to develop increases the risk of retinal detachment and other serious eye problems?
7. Have you ever prescribed plus power reading glasses for a child to prevent myopia?
8. Will you prescribe plus power reading glasses for my child or do I have to go somewhere else?
In addition to the obvious health concerns, the current "treatment" of myopia is a multi-billion dollar business. This is a great financial drain on our society. There is also the cost of taking care of those who lose their vision to our current treatment methods. We could certainly find better uses for this money.
The Myopia Myth (book)
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About the authorDonald Rehm is president of the International Myopia Prevention Assn., with headquarters in Ligonier, PA. He is the author of the book, "The Myopia Myth - The truth about nearsightedness and how to prevent it." The book can be read on his website http://www.myopia.org . There you will find everything you need to prevent myopia in your family as well as his analysis of why this information is being withheld from the public.
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