(The following letter is taken from one of the United State's scientist Dr. Stirling Colgate who concerns the visual welfare of young children.)
Letter to the National Institute of Medicine
November 9, 1977
Dr. Elena Nightingale
Director, Preventive Medicine
National Institute of Medicine
2101 Constitution Avenue
Washington, DC 20418
Dear Dr. Nightingale,
The enclosed two reports are a statement concerning the prevention of myopia-the one within the profession by Francis Young ( "The Development and Control of Myopia in Human and Subhuman Primates", Contacto 19, p.16) and the other a discussion at an elementary level by myself, a physicist.
The point is that myopia can be prevented in essentially all cases by appropriate management of the focal environment. It requires measuring each year the mean relaxed-state focal length of the eye during child development. When this refractive error is zero, one then uses any of the proven methods of preventing or inhibiting the progression of myopia.
If the child does not progress beyond refractive error of zero, the child retains a refractive error of zero. This is called 20/20, 6/6 or 1.0 vision. The simplest, easiest and least drastic means of inhibiting further progression of myopia is the use of positive lens glasses, +1.50 to +2.00 diopters for all reading and protracted close work.
The eye progressively adapts to its mean focal environment starting from the focal properties of all new born babies, +4.00 to +6.00 diopters, to progressively more near-sighted each year, usually –1/2 to –1 diopters per year. Then at the age of 6 to 10 years the mean relaxed state focus, refractive error, passes through zero.
The normal environment of distance and no reading means that when the refractive error becomes zero, the time average contraction of the ciliary muscles becomes small and further adaptation to the focal environment ceases. This way the normal development leads to and maintain zero refractive error.
The un-natural environment of reading causes myopia by extending the progressive adaptation to the un-natural near point focal environment of the book. The logical and least disruptive action is to change the effective focal properties of the book to infinity. Elementary optics indicates the uses of a positive lens to accomplish this.
Conventional ophthalmology has traditionally treated the symptom, not the cause. We wait until the individual has adapted to the near-point focal environment. This adaptation is called myopia. We then fit the person with a negative/concave lens, which endows the distant object with the focal properties of a close-by one. If the individual then uses the negative/concave lens glasses for reading, a further adaptation to a still closer point focus is made and the grotesque result is called progressive myopia.
The optometry profession has traditionally defended itself on the basis that all focal properties of the eye are pre-determined genetically. One can equally well explain the observed very large genetic correlation function and myopia with a variable genetic endowment affecting the focal adaptation mechanism.
Dr. Francis Young has, in my opinion, demonstrated conclusive scientific evidence for the existence and for the mechanism of this adaptive mechanism-namely the small, progressive and irreversible lengthening of he eyeball in response to the fluid pressure increase caused by a contraction of the ciliary muscle.
The alleviation of myopia is a worthwhile goal. At the very least, an open choice and recognized knowledge of the causes and prevention would seem to me to be outstanding objective in preventive medicine.
Stirling A. Colgate, Ph.D.
Theoretical Physics Division
MS-210, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory
Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545
VITA at 21 September 1989
Degrees: B.A.(Physics), Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 1948
PH.D. (Physics), Cornell university, Ithaca, NY 1952
Dr. Stirling A. Colgate's PROFESSIONAL CAREER
Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, Berkeley, CA (electron physics and accelerator physics)
Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, CA( nuclear weapons diagnostics, controlled fusion ,lasers)1956-64 Group Leader, controlled fusion project.1959 Technical Advisor to the U.S. State Dept. Conference on the Discontinuance of Nuclear Weapons Tests,Geneva,Switz.1960-64 Lecturer, Univ. of Calif. Berkeley, Elet. Engr. Dept. (plasma physics).
President of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM. Director of Research .Professor of Physics-
Adjunct Professor( Physics and Astrophysics) NMIMT.
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Theoretical Division.
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Group Leader, Theoretical
Dr. Stirling Colgate is an international well-known physicist. Other than send him a courtesy reply, nothing was ever done about his request by the NIM. Perhaps, it is the responsibility of every parent instead of the nation.