I gratefully express my appreciation to all my friends who encouraged and supported me during the process of writing this work. I especially thank Marilyn Ferguson for advice and sharing; Jim Fadiman for demystifying the PhD process; Dorothy Fadiman for her timely insights and affirmations; Fred Blau for dynamic concepts and statistics; Jean Millay for help with linear organization; Kim Solga for her beautiful drawings and Lisette Guy for keeping my life together. Writing this dissertation was an important learning experience for me. Perhaps the most important experience was learning to receive the love and support which was so freely given to me by my friends.
This dissertation deals with the etiology of myopia. A psychophysiological model was developed to explain the concepts of William Bates. The model suggests that myopia results from habits of mental focusing – habitual ways of organizing mental processes in order to pay attention – which lead to chronic isometric contraction of the extraocular muscles which cause the eyeball to elongate producing nearsightedness. The neuropsychological aspects of this model are derived primarily from the research of Karl Pribram. The literature on the etiology of nearsightedness is compatible with myopic behavior as predicted by the model. This dissertation concludes that Bates’ ideas should be given serious consideration by optometrists, vision scientists and other professionals; myopia is more flexible than is generally conceived; and it is important to develop a new paradigm of visual care which examines the more subtle implications of the nearsighted response and the possibilities of prevention and remediation.
Almost all of our population require refractive correction during their lifetimes. Considering the proportion of the total population involved and the significance of good vision in the efficient performance of an infinity of everyday tasks, it is important to increase the state of our knowledge regarding the refractive anomalies of the eye. (Newell & Hirsch, 1967)
The problem of refractive error is generally not considered to be a problem at all. Nearsightedness is considered a normal fact of life by most professionals and by most nearsighted people and parents of nearsighted children. It is indeed normal for over one-eighth of our population (Baldwin, 1964) is nearsighted. When a child, for example, begins to experience poor distance vision, the parents take the child to a vision professional who prescribes glasses which clear up the condition. The lenses to be worn are called “corrective” lenses. They seem to correct the problem since they permit the nearsighted child to see clearly again. The problem is considered to have been solved and no one thinks about it until a year or two later when the symptoms of poor vision or visual discomfort may reoccur.
This dissertation takes issue with this procedure and with the assumptions about refractive error which dominate the vision care professions.