Eyeglasses for Small Children - Visual Aerobics

  • The more regularly anyone USES glasses or contact lenses, the more they NEED to use them. Whether this is a good idea for adults might be debated, but for very young kids, it seems extremely foolish to not allow some of their muscles to develop as they should. (OCCASIONAL use is not a problem.)

  • An eyeball is designed to have a specific shape LENS in it which focuses distant images onto the RETINA which is at the back of the eye.

  • There is a donut-shaped muscle which tightly surrounds the eyeball, which is called the Ciliary Body. When that muscle is activated, like all other muscles, it gets thicker and shorter. In this case, shorter means it has a smaller radius, so it SQUEEZES the eyeball, which changes the overall shape of the eyeball, which causes the Retina to be farther from the Lens. You do this without realizing it when you need to look at something close to you, such as the text in a book.

  • As long as the brain knows that it needs to keep exercising these Ciliary Body muscles, everything is fine and you can focus both near and far.

  • However, wearing eyeglasses such as READING GLASSES allows the eyes to focus on nearby things without needing to activate the Ciliary Bodies. If this is done regularly, then the Ciliary Body muscles get weaker and weaker, which means you then NEED to wear glasses! But you can EXERCISE the Ciliary Bodies by alternately looking at near and far things, which builds them up to be stronger and stronger, meaning there is LESS need for eyeglasses. To start very young children on eyeglasses means they will probably never develop the strength of their Ciliary Bodies, and therefore will need thicker and thicker glasses during their lives. I recommend trying to avoid having small children wearing eyeglasses, and instead trying to get them to practice strengthening their eye muscles. I call it Visual Aerobics.

This concept was first developed around 1982. This presentation was first placed on the Internet in 1997, and then later again in April 2011.

I am convinced that small children rarely require eyeglasses and that a type of Visual Aerobics has a strong likelihood of strengthening muscles in each eye which change the shape of the lens and therefore adjusts the focus from far to near. I believe that older people tend to not do this activity as often as when they were children and so the lenses of their older eyes lose some of this muscle tone and therefore they gradually tend to become either nearsighted or farsighted. I believe that with a very simple type of eye exercise (beyond the effects due to the natural curiosity of most small children), those muscles in the eyes can be re-strengthened, much like leg or arm muscles are re-toned after being in a cast after a broken bone.

When I was six years old and in First Grade, a woman who worked for the school had each child sit and try to read off the letters on an eye chart. As it happened, I had not attended Kindergarden and I did not yet know most of the letters in the alphabet! That probably guaranteed that I had no way of passing her eye test! But when she wrote down that I had totally failed it, she somehow decided exactly what type of glasses that she was going to require me to wear (for the rest of my life!) and apparently they were to be very thick glasses! She sent a note to my parents that told them to get such glasses for me.

My mother saw that I was very upset about it all. Part of it was that I did not want to start out my life wearing extremely thick glasses, but the other part was that I knew that I had no possible chance of having passed her eye test, so I knew it was unfair.

As it happened, my parents were very poor and they could not easily pay for the cost of glasses, so they agreed to not buy glasses for me.

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As it happened, once I learned the letters of the alphabet, and ever after, I have passed all eye tests extremely well. For most of my life, my sight has been described as being 20-17, that is, objects that are 20 feet away from me, I see even more clearly as though they were only 17 feet away. In other words, never in school nor in a long lifetime afterward, have I ever needed glasses, with the exception of sunglasses when at the beach and in my elderly years, occasionally reading glasses for fine print.

I later learned that the women hired to give eye tests to children in that school were NOT Doctors or even Nurses. There were simply Secretaries who told kids to repeat the letters they could see (and read). My life might have been quite different if my parents had had enough money to be able to buy those glasses that the woman decided I had to wear!

Visual Aerobics

As an adult scientist, I have learned amazing things related to this. It now seems clear that MILLIONS of little kids are told that they had to wear glasses, where that very likely was never necessary. Better than that, even a child who might briefly need glasses might easily grow out of that need!

In studying the structure of the human eye, there is an important structure called the ciliary body which resembles a narrow doughnut, which surrounds the somewhat flexible lens of the eye.

The function of the ciliary body is to adjust the shape of the lens. This changes the focal distance of the lens, which then enables the person to focus on either a distant object or a nearby one.

All healthy people have ciliary bodies which can use internal muscles to rapidly change the focus from near to far. As a result, those people do not need to use glasses to do that function.

I have long been aware that ALL muscles in the human body need to be regularly exercised to maintain muscle tone. When someone breaks a leg or arm and the bones need to be fixed in a plaster cast for some weeks, the muscles atrophy during that period of disuse and they need to be regularly exercised for a while afterward to get muscle strength up to earlier condition.

It seemed obvious to me that the muscles in the ciliary bodies probably also need to be regularly exercised to maintain muscle tone. And I suspected that some children might not do enough changes in focus from near to far to provide the necessary exercising of the muscles.

Notice a really terrible side effect of a child or anyone else constantly wearing prescription eyeglasses. The muscles in the ciliary bodies rarely to ever need to actuate, in other words, those muscles are nearly forced into atrophy.

This seems to indicate two obvious things to me. (1) NOT to perscribe eyeglasses to small children at all, or only in extreme situations of need. (2) Provide eye focusing exercises for the eyes, that is, alternating looking at something far away (more than 20 feet) and something such as the page of a book or a magazine. This process should EXERCISE the muscles in the ciliary bodies such that the NEED for eyeglasses may disappear! Not only might the current need for glasses be reduced, but even people who have long needed to wear glasses may discover that they no longer need to do so!

This presentation was first placed on the Internet in 1997 and then again in April 2011.

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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago