Chapter 2: What Affects Sight

Most of us think that the condition of the eyes (and the sight)
is due to Fate. The eyes are either good or bad, and we can do
nothing about it save wear glasses. But a study of orthodox
books shows us otherwise.

We read:

The visual acuity . . . varies with environment — whether
rural or urban — with the health of a person and also to a
great extent with the nature of his occupation and food. . . .
It varies further with the education and alertness of the individual – with the brain or intelligence behind the eye . . .
mental torpidity and illiteracy may account, for several lines
on the test types (p. 104-5).

We see, here, that many things cause poor sight besides the
`shape of the eyeball’ – the usual answer given as the cause of
sight-defects, and the basis of the statement that `myopia cannot
be cured’. Let us take some of these things separately.

HEALTH

All kinds of ill health affect the eyes to a greater or less degree,
but some types, such as diabetes, measles, arthritis, rheumatism,
nerve strain, catarrh, general weakness, affect them seriously.
In the ordinary run of life, constipation and worry are the chief
offeiders, with lack of sleep and wrong diet good seconds. We
cannot here take up this subject in detail, but we can go into
the matter sufficiently for all to benefit.

FOOD

Take this first, since we all eat. Without food the body would
die; with food lacking in certain essentials the body will also
die, and, examples of this meet us when we look at Europe
to-day; with food ill-balanced as to essentials, the body will
become ill nourished-it will even be . poisoned should certain
things be taken in excess of bodily requirements. All of us should
therefore become familiar with a few fundamental laws of diet.

We are children of Nature as regards our body, and Nature
gives us good food for its nourishment. Grain, fruit, vegetables,
dairy produce-what more does the body need? Most people
in the West add meat-and a little knowledge of its harmful
effect on the body would soon change the meat-eater to the
vegetarian. We are not, as a people, so healthy in middle and
old age, that we should think our diet is a perfect one, and the
production of our food should be taken out of the hands of the
scientist and-put into the hands of common sense if we would
learn the art of feeding. This booklet is not the place to take
up the cudgels for this or that system of diet, as the fact that
meat-eaters and vegetarians alike have equally good and equally
poor sight shows us that fanaticism in any direction should be
avoided. Of the value of, whole grain, fruit, and vegetables there
is no doubt, and they must form a part of the daily meals if good
health is to ensue. The time should have passed when we
sanction the taking away of the vital part of the wheat in order
to sell it, at advanced prices, as a separate commodity. We
should not have a feeling of satisfaction when we buy some
packet labelled `the germ of the wheat’, but we should ask, why
is not this germ in the bread I buy? Though it is an acknowledged fact that wholewheat bread is better than white bread,
we do not yet feed our hospital patients on wholewheat bread!
The subject of `clean’, meaning pasteurised, milk, or raw, meaning often, alas, unclean, milk, is a heated one. But why should
we allow our farmers to sell unclean milk? Whether milk is good
for human consumption or not is a debatable point, but it should
no longer be debatable whether the farmers should provide
healthy cows, giving clean milk, and have dean receptacles, etc.,
or whether some very few should be allowed to do almost as they
like. Since milk from many farms is pooled, one farmers carelessness or one cow’s ill health may affect adversely an enormous
quantity of milk.

To leave controversial topics and come to ordinary life, the
best advice is–eat what you like, if you must, but add to the
diet more vegetables and fruit. Do not eat things that disagree
with you and then take some medicine to try and rid the body
of the ill effects.

As well as being affected by what we eat, the body is also
affected by many of the so-called `cures’. Quinine, for example,
is definitely bad for the eyes in very many cases; likewise, some
of the glandular treatments.

The more natural the diet the better the health, and the less
we think about either!

CONSTIPATION

What a curse of the present day! The causes, and the
remedies, are legion! It is not natural to retain the waste products of the food we eat; either the food is wrong or there is
some other cause. Pills will remove the waste matter, but will
not strike at the cause of its retention. A natural, non-stodgy
diet will often put this condition right, but if not, manipulative
treatment, or herbs, are the best things to turn to. It is a condition that must be tackled if health of the body, and of the eyes,
is wanted.

NERVE STRAIN

We are all subject to this, but why not snake an effort to get
rid of it instead of taking to glasses and retaining it? Nerve
strain must be dealt with individually, as its source lies in the
attitude towards life of the individual, if not rooted in wrong
food, lack of rest, or medicines taken to ease the condition.

WORRY

We know worry is foolish, but if we must worry we need not
worry with the eyes. Take the worry away from the eyes and
put it in the brain. Do not tighten up the eyes as though holding
them in a vice. With practice we can relax the eyes while we
let the worry play on in the brain if we cannot forget it.

ENVIRONMENT

This is touched on elsewhere, but. it is obvious that the environment of the coalmine often has a bad effect on the eyes, that the
dreary narrow streets and the drab office compare unfavourably
with the bright cheery house and wide, tree-lined streets, and
more so still with the country with its green fields and wide
expanse of sky.

OCCUPATION

Few can change their occupation, but all can change its effect
on the eyes. If we spend our lives at desk work, we keep the
range of vision mostly at the near point, and the result is
deficiency of sight, both at that point and also at the distance,
for the eyes get tired of holding the near focus and refuse to
work, while they get little practice in looking at the distance.
The same is true if the focus is too much used for the distance, as
with car-drivers, etc.

If it is admitted that change in sight can result from holding
the eyes at a definite focus too long, cannot this principle be
applied in the form of an exercise? It would be strange if the
effect could be produced unconsciously, while the. cause, consciously applied, did not yield the same effect. Scanning the
horizon for hours on end, as with sailors, Coastal and Fleet Air
Arm and Air Force pilots and navigators, needs the counter-
balance of the smallness of the cabin or hut. Should we be shut
up in a small room, or confined in a small office, closed tube
train or small houses, we can help our long-distance sight by
country walks, the cinema, and such games as give work and
movement to the eye muscles as they adapt themselves to
changing distances.

MENTAL TORPIDITY

The trend of modern medical aid is towards the mental aspect
of the patient, for it is being recognised that the attitude towards
life affects the health. The mental attitude also affects the eyes
and the sight, and there truly is `none so blind as he who will
not see. Both the mental shutting out of sight, and the laziness
that cannot be bothered to see, are responsible for some cases of
defective sight. In children this condition can be remedied
through education but, with adults, the real help must come
from themselves. Nevertheless, it is wise to try and find the
cause of the torpidity. We would suggest that every parent and
teacher should have Dr. Borland’s book Children’s Types, and
study it if they cannot gee-in touch with a good hommopathic
doctor or hospital. Most people are not aware that so many
childish `peculiarities` of character are due to ill health of the
body, and many a child is punished when what it should have
been given is some homcropathic remedy. The cause may be
constipation, or home or school conditions, and the effect, i.e.
mental torpidity, should not be put down to `stupidity’ until
every other avenue is exhausted, We have a solemn duty with
regard to children. They are growing bodies, growing minds,
growing entities, and we have no right to let them suffer without
having approached every known method of assistance.

ATTENTION

We are told:

Some people, especially children, will state that they cannot
read certain small types, and yet will correctly name each
letter if the letter be specially indicated by a finger or pencil;
apparently a mental stimulation is derived from the individualisation of each letter, the attention not being allowed to
wander over the whole series in a particular line (p. 105).

If we once admit that attention has something to do with
seeing, then why cannot we use it, consciously, to improve sight?
All education is the development of the faculty of attention,
attention to the subject under study, attention to action, atten-
tion to thoughts and feelings. We must also attend to see, attend
to hear. We call it seeing and hearing, but if we do not attend,
we neither see nor hear.

If it helps a child to point to a letter, why cannot this be done
over and over again till the child (or adult) is able to keep his
attention on the letter without the aid of the finger or pencil
individualising it? We learn our tables at school, our games,
and, in fact, all that we do learn, by repetition. The faculty of
separating letters by attending to one at a time also grows with
practice.

Lack of attention breeds inaccuracy. The letter F will look
like P if we are careless. If we cultivate the faculty to see detail,
to see accurately, the sight will improve, for we cannot see too
much at once if we look for detail, and thus we avoid causing
a condition which results in defective sight.

MENTAL ALERTNESS

Absence of this shows first in day-dreaming or gazing at
nothing. These two states can be summed up by the phrases:
“Sometimes I sits and thinks: sometimes I just sits.”

Sometimes I sits and thinks. There is no harm in this. In fact,
it is a great help to this business of living if we take time to sit
and think! But the day-dreamer does not really think; he drifts,
and generally loses the habit of blinking. To really think keeps
the mind active and not passive and unless the eyes are forcibly
strained, not harm but good will come of sitting and thinking.
Also one can think with one’s eyes closed and give them a rest.

Sometimes I just sits. This condition is complete passivity,
add dangerous both to the eyes and to the health, mental and physical.

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