Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/87

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77
EFFECTS OF STUDY ON THE EYESIGHT.

Medical Association, to examine and report upon the effects of study upon the eyes of pupils of the public schools of Buffalo. In March he reported that he had examined 1,003 scholars, of whom he found twenty per cent, to be near-sighted, and twelve per cent, over sighted; that not a single case of near-sight was found among the children six years old and under; but that at seven years of age five per cent, had acquired near-sight; at eleven there were eleven per cent.; at thirteen there were nineteen per cent.; and at eighteen twenty-six per cent. Among those who had continued in the schools beyond the age of twenty-one years, he found no less than forty-three per cent, with near-sight. He says that Dr. Agnew had sent him blanks for the name, age, sex, and height; for the exact size of desks and seats; also, for each room, the color of the walls, number of windows, and whether to the right, left, front, or rear; the number of square feet in each window, and the distance of adjoining buildings which might obstruct the light. Also, for methods of teaching by large objects, the hours of study, number of recesses, methods of heating and ventilation, and for the cubic feet of air to each individual. The greatest care was exercised to record: 1. The precise condition of the pupils' vision, whether healthy or not; and, if abnormal, to what degree. 2. The usual position of the body when studying. 3. Illumination of the school-room. 4. The relaxation given to the eye alone, or to the whole body. 5. The general hygienic surroundings of the pupil.

He then describes the process of individual examination: Haifa dozen scholars at a time were sent into a class-room, on one of the walls of which had been hung a card of letters known to oculists as "Snellen's test-types." The scholars were placed at a distance of twenty feet from these letters, and asked to read the lowest line, the letters being 38 inch Gothic. Those who can pass this test are not near-sighted. Then there is held before the eye of each a weak convex glass, such as old people are accustomed to wear. If he cannot see so well as without it, he is not far-sighted.[1] In some cases of unusually imperfect vision, the ophthalmoscope was employed.

During the summer of 1876, Dr. E. G. Loring, Jr., of New York, assisted by Dr. R. H. Derby, examined the sight of 2,000 pupils of the Twelfth Street public school and the normal school in Sixty-sixth Street, New York. Their ages ranged from six to twenty-one years. As in the other examinations cited, myopia was found to affect a very small percentage of the pupils in their first year, and to increase yearly and largely thereafter, to the close of school life; and that the average degree of near-sight increases with the age up to twenty-seven years. His report was read before the Medical Congress in Philadelphia, in September, 1876.

In the fall of 1875, Dr. Hasket Derby, of Boston, commenced a

  1. These are approximate tests.