CHAPTER IV - Asthenopia: Weak Eyes
NORMAL, healthy eyes should be strong, clear, alert and full of expression. When they are dull, weak or lacking in expression, we may be sure there is something physically or mentally wrong with their possessor.
Everyone has noted the meaningless expression in the eyes of the drunkard —h ow they roll about in a heavy, lustreless way in their sockets. This sufficiently demonstrates the intimate relationship between the eyes and the general nervous system. Indeed, it may be said that the eyes are a fair indication of the condition of the stomach and of the whole system. Excessive eating, drinking, smoking, worrying or other debilitating practices are sure to be recorded sooner or later in these delicate and sensitive structures.
When the body is normal and healthy, the blood furnished to the eyes is pure and clear. Strong eyes are the result. If, on the other hand, the digestion is out of order and the blood is impure, or loaded with unassimilated material, then the eyes grow dull and heavy; their power of vision is impaired no less than their beauty, and a wholesale degeneration of their tissues results.
Eye defects of this character are almost invariably due to some constitutional weakness or defect, and not to the local causes to which they are often ascribed. This will become more apparent as we proceed. Most oculists and opticians have a tendency to treat the eye as a detached organ, without any relation at all to the rest of the body, the blood stream or the nervous structure. This is irrational, and it is impossible that any permanent good should come of it. The connection between the eye and the rest of the body is most intimate, and any form of poisoning, or weakness, in the latter at once manifests itself in the former. Under these circumstances local treatment is useless without improvement of the general physical condition. Only vigorous bodily exercise, proper diet, deep breathing and general invigoration can build up the system and place it on that high plane of energy which is essential to the health, strength and beauty of the eyes.
The causes to which the deplorable condition of civilized eyes is usually ascribed, such as prolonged use for near work, improper lighting, etc., are only injurious, as we shall see later, when the eyes are not properly used.
It usually takes a long time to tire out the eyes, and they recuperate very rapidly under proper care. Of course, if things have been allowed to go too far, a long course of treatment may be essential, but even then it is astonishing to see how rapidly recovery will take place.
Resorting to glasses as soon as any visual discomfort is experienced is a mistake — for reasons to be set forth later.
The eyes are thus supplied with a crutch which partially supports them, but which, at the same time, keeps them artificially strained. The natural result is that they call for more and more powerful lenses. The proper thing to do in such cases is to find out and remove the cause of the condition, whether constitutional or local. Then all palliative measures will become unnecessary.
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