From: Steve I.H. LEUNG Optometrist
Hong Kong, SAR, China , May 2003
Subject: An optometrist's personal experience or MY
Dear Myopic Folk,
I am a practicing optometrist working in the field of optics for more than 16
years. During these years I faced an excessive high rate of children developing
nearsightedness (myopia). It is very hard to resist the obvious need to use a
minus lens (concave lens) for these children. I deeply appreciate that we
all value clear distant vision for life. Achieving this goal would be of great
value for all of us.
Everyday, a great many people are developing the vision problems of
nearsightedness, farsightedness, aged vision -- as well as crossed and lazy
eyes. These people come to my office and require immediate vision correction.
They all need glasses.
Among the visual problems, the case of myopia correction bothers me greatly. It
is a dilemma and tragedy of using a "correcting" lenses, which in fact these
glasses eventually become a crutch for life.
In the early years of practice, I was not aware the long-term bad effect that a
minus lens has on the eye. This is because neither the curriculum textbooks nor
the professors pointed out the ultimate side effect that a minus lens has on the
eye -- during my many years of doing course work in optometry.
After graduation, I practiced the full scope of optometry, from refraction to
fundus eye examination, and vision correction by optical means. But once these
means are removed, the vision is neither improved nor restored.
The minus lens is merely an aid to vision, i.e., compensation by external means.
In the majority of cases, naked-eye vision gets worse with the traditional minus
The children will need stronger power glasses in the following years. It is a
matter of treating the symptom -- but does not achieve an effective cure.
I have been mulling over in my mind -- to think about alternative and better
methods to manage myopic eyes, because I also am nearsighted.
With my accumulating experience, I am well aware that constant wearing of minus
lens glasses are harmful especially the full power ones. However, there is no
choice but to use a minus lens if the child cannot see well in his class.
At times, the best that I can do is to emphasize that the use of (minus lens)
glasses be restricted to chalk board, and always must be removed after class.
This is the first step in goal of avoiding the glasses' side effect.
But being myopic is unfortunate and inconvenient. At times it seems that none of
us can escape the use of a minus lenses to restore clear vision.
I have been driven into deep thinking about a way of, "how to restore clear
vision from myopic and how to maintain distant vision for life."
As a father and an optometrist, I felt a strong commitment to protect my own
child's vision. It was because my child (age 4) in her curiosity asked me, "Dad,
why do you always wear glasses? Why are the kids I play with in school wearing
Her statement had a serious impact on me, and I woke up to the fact that a child
should not be fitted with minus lens glasses -- if there are means to doing so.
Why? The earlier age you begin wearing the minus lens, the faster vision
deteriorates. The minus lens can make vision worse all by itself! Many
scientists, engineers and health workers have formed this opinion -- that the
minus lens is definitely harmful to
young kid's long-term vision.
Because I was sensitive to both the requirement to use the minus lens, but also
understood the secondary effect (vision deteriorates )I began much broader
research into the subject matter. This included the judgment of engineers and
scientists (and some ophthalmologists )who "object" to the use of the minus
Fortunately, I met several enthusiastic engineers, physicists and scientists via
internet in 2001 by chance. They provided excellent postings in their web sites
where I got a deep insight about the development and management of child's
acquired myopia --
to include the potential of preventing it in the first place by wise use of a
(reading) plus lens. They are Donald Rehm, Otis Brown, James Arthur, Dr.
Stirling Colgate and Alex Eulenberg.
In fact, researchers such as Dr. Jacob Raphaelson and Dr. Francis Young had
conducted pioneering work to determine the cause, effect, and remedy for myopia
acquired in school. As early as 1904, Dr. Jacob Raphaelson had used the plus
(convex) lens to effectively cure a child's myopia. Further, Dr. Francis Young
has revealed the true cause of acquired myopia with his large number of
insightful experiments and scientific publications in the 1960s. All the above
mentioned scientists advocate that preventative measures be instituted to
help children avoid getting into myopia in the first place.
In view of their spirit and fortitude, I felt that I bore a responsibility as an
optometrist if I did nothing to assist in the prevention of myopia.
I regret that I became part of the system (use minus lens) that was put in place
long time ago -- and that this system has not changed in any significant detail
since its inception.
My goal is to look to the future and begin preventive methods which can be
effective for the child who is on the threshold of myopia. Today, I make it
clear that my mission and task is to try my best to discuss the alternate
opinion on the therapeutic use of the plus lens -- instead of the compensatory
use of minus lens. I do everything in my power to explain the long-term effect
that the minus lens has on the eye's refractive status, and I encourage parents
to review this issue for themselves.
I have supported several hundred children with the plus lens since 2001. The
long term effect of the lens is developing, and results will become better as
the use becomes more complete. Most of the children retain their current
refractive (focal) status and few of them achieved significant vision
improvement. Although it is unusual, there have been several cases of complete
vision recovery! I also felt that making this commitment is a matter of my
personal integrity, and is necessarily part of my work and career.