On the forty-second page of “Relearning to See: Improve Your Eyesight--Naturally!” author Thomas R. Quackenbush wrote (emphasis added):
under primitive conditions have just as good eyesight as the men.
When man learned how to communicate his thoughts to others by means of written and printed forms, there came some undeniably new demands upon the eye. ... affecting at first only a few people, but gradually including more and more, until now, in the more advanced countries, the great mass of the population is subjected to their influence. A few hundred years ago even princes were not taught to read and write. Now we compel everyone to go to school, whether he wishes to or not, even the babies being sent to kindergarten. A generation or so ago books were scarce and expensive. Today, be means of libraries of all sorts, stationary and traveling, they have been brought within the reach of practically everyone. The modern newspaper, with its endless columns of badly printed reading matter, was made possible only be the discovery of the art of manufacturing paper from wood, which is a thing of yesterday. The tallow candle has been but lately displaced by the various forms of artificial lighting, which tempt most of us to prolong our vocations and avocations into hours when primitive man was forced to rest, and within the last couple of decades has come the moving picture to complete the supposedly destructive process.
Was it reasonable to expect that Nature should have provided for all these developments, and produced an organ that could respond to the new demands? It is the accepted belief of ophthalmology today that she could not and did nota and that, while the processes of civilization depend upon the sense of sight more than upon any other, the visual organ is but imperfectly fitted for its tasks.
There are a great number of facts which seem to justify this conclusion. ...
For the prevailing method of vision care, by means of compensating lenses, very little was ever claimed except that these contrivances neutralized the effects of the various conditions for which they were prescribed, as a crutch enables a lame man to walk. It has also been believed that they sometimes checked the progress of these conditions; but every ophthalmologist now knows that their usefulness for this purpose, if any, is very limited. In the case of myopiab (shortsight), Dr. Sidler-Huguenin of Zurich, in a striking paper recently published,c expresses the opinion that glasses and all methods now at our command are "of but little avail" in preventing either the progress of the error of refraction, or the development of the very serious complications with which it is often associated. These conclusions are based on the study
The unnatural strain of accommodating the eyes to close work (for which they were not intended) leads to myopia in a large proportion of growing children.—Rosenau: Preventitive Medicine and Hygiene, third edition.
The compulsion of late as well as an error of evolution has brought it about that the unaided eye must persistently struggle against the astonishing difficulties and errors inevitable in its structure, function and circumstance.—Gould: The Cause, Nature and Consequence of Eyestrain, Pop Sci Monthly, Dec., 1905.
With the invention of writing and then with the invention of the printing press a new element was introduced, and one evidently not provided for by the process of evolution. The human eye which had been evolved for distant vision is being forced to perform a new part, one for which it had not been evolved, and for which it is poorly adapted. The difficult is being daily augmented—Scott: The Sacrifice of the Eyes of School Children, Pop Sci Monthly, Oct., 1907.
From the Greek myein, to close, and ops, the eye: literally a condition in which the subject closes the eye, or blinks.
Archiv L. Augenh, vol. lxxix, 1915, translated in Arch. Ophth. vol. xlv, No. 6, Nov., 1916.