Bernarr Macfadden.

Strong eyes; how weak eyes may be strengthened and spectacles discarded online

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Editor of "Physical Culture," and

"Woman's Physical Development. "




Copyrighted 1901
— by —



Published by the






Lou uion

°f Optometrists


Chapter I.

THE EYES— The most Important of
Human Organs of Sense. The Mechan-
ism and Mystery of Sight — The Lan-
guage of the Eye and its Expression of
Individual Character 3

Chapter II.

BEAUTIFUL EYES— The seat of In-
tellectual and Emotice Charm — Elusive-
ness of Definition — The Physical Causes
of Beautiful Eyes — Concordant Develop-
ment of Eyes with Character 11


Chapter III.

STRONG EYES— Their Necessity to
a Strenuous Life — The limitations of
the Blind and the Weak-sighted — Strong
Eyes the main Factor in Personal Mag-
netism and Hypnotism 19

Chapter IV.

DULL EYES— Always the Result of
General Physical Debility — Absurdity of
Rooking for a Local cause or of Seeking
for Local Remedies — The Eyes a Ther-
mometer of Health — How Dull Eyes
may be Brightened 29

Chapter V.

WEAK EYES— Result of Over-taxing
— Bad Light and Wrong Positions in
Reading — How these are to be Corrected
— Evils of Present Education of School-
children — How Weak Eyes may be
Strengthened 33

Chapter VI.

CRIPPLED EYES— The Eyes that

are Born so — The Eyes that are Made

so — Spectacles are Crutches — How these

may be Laid Aside 39

Chapter VII.
DISEASED EYES— Congestion and
its Treatment — Inflammation and its
Treatment — Catarrh of the Eye and its
Treatment — Granulation and its Treat-
ment — Eye-pimples and Styes, Tumors of
Eyelids and their Treatment — Spasms
and Twitchings of the Eyelids and their
Treatment — Specks before the Eyes and
their Treatment — Cross-eyes and their
Treatment — Diseases of the Cornea and
their Treatment — Diseases of the Iris
and their Treatment — Diseases of the
Pupil and their Treatment — Cataract and
its Treatment — Diseases of the Choroid
and their Treatment — Diseases of the
Retina and their Treatment — Diseases of
the Optic Nerve and their Treatment. 46


Chapter VIII.

for Strengthening the Eyes — Out-of-door
Exercise — Diet 61

Chaptkr IX.

Eye may be Massaged with the Fingers.


Chapter X.

EYES EXERCISES— Illustrated Sys-
tem of Exercises for Strengthening the
Muscles that Control the Eyes 83

Chapter XI.
EYE BATH— How this Valuable
Means of Strengthening the Eyes can be
Taken — Shown by Illustration 91

Chapter XII.

Exercises for the Neck which will Effect
the Eyes Beneficially , 97


Chapter XIII.


'Oh, loss of sight, of thee I most complain!"



Who can estimate the value of
eyes "the windows of the soul?"

If one were to be offered the
wealth of the world in exchange
for his power of vision the proposi-
tion would not be attractive.

Notwithstanding the enormous
value of this power everywhere, in
every walk of life, the eyes are ill-
treated and subjected to intemper-
ate use.

This common abuse of these
valuable organs has caused spec-
tacles, the eye crutches to
be used, almost universally


while absolutely nothing is known
of natural means for remedying
these visional defects.

I believe that the information
furnished here if acted upon will
not only save thousands of suffer-
ers from the necessity of wearing
glasses, but those now using this
artificial and ultimately injurious
aid to the eyes will be able to cast
it aside.

Strong eyes, like strong arms,
can be developed and the contents
of this book will tell how such re-
sults can be secured.

•'Eyes that shame the violet,
Or the dark drop that on the pansy lies."
— William Cullen Bryant.



Of all the organs of special sense
possessed by man the eye is by far
the most important. Indeed the
superiority is so universally recog-
nized that sight is taken as repre-
sentative of sense perception in
general. A man is said to view a
subject told him by word of month.
He "sees a point" rather than feels
it. Even odors and tastes are de-
scribed by sight symbols. Per-


fumes are alluring, and the victim
of the tobacco habit is said to awake
in the morning with a "dark brown
taste in his mouth."

Many other animals than man
have other senses than sight in
preeminence. Smell is so highly
developed in a dog that scientists
declare that the sleeping hound
following his imagined quarry
dreams mainly if not entirely of
scents. The cat with all of its
marvelous adaptation of the eye
for hunting by night locates its
prey by hearing even more than
by seeing. But man depends for
material perception far more on
sight than any other sense. He
tests everything by it. "Seeing is


knowing" and "seeing is believing"
are proverbs even recognized by
law, where actual sight of the per-
petration of a crime is considered
necessary to verify the evidence of
a witness.

The reason for this preeminence
is to be found in the highly devel-
oped physical structure of the eye,
more specifically in that of the op-
tic nervous system. This system
is the real eye. What is common-
ly known as the eye is only the
eye ball, which is simiply the term-
inus of the system. • Its marvelous
structure is, after all, merely the
end of a nerve, developed through
countless ages of natural selection
just as an eye of a cuttlefish, is a


special evolution of skin structure.

Consequently proper treatment
of the eye should include the whole
optic system, instead of the eye
ball alone, as is commonly the

And, as treatment for nervous
disorders largely depend on that
which influences the whole body,
the hygiene of the eye, is therefore
principally constitutional. The
optic nervous system is the real
eye. The parts of the eye ball,
the mere mechanism, may be
replaced by artifice. Spectacles or
lenses supplement, even wholly
perform, the office of the natural
"crystalline lens." The "aqueous
fluid" also has been replaced by


water. But only the processes of
nature can resupply or rebuild lost
or diminished nervous energy. It
is therefore out of place in this
treatise to discuss the mechanism
of the sight more than to mention
some of the latest scientific conclu-
sions. The reader, who may be
interested from a purely educa-
tional point of view can study the
anatomy and physiology of the
eye in any school text-book.

Suffice it to say that the images
of objects pass through the crys-
talline lens of the eye and project
their outlines upside down upon
the retina. The light vibration
forming the image on the retina is
transmuted into nerve vibration


and telegraphed to the brain-cent
where the sight function is local-
ized. If the nerves and brain are
healthy, fully and normally devel-
oped, the impression will be accu-
rate, but if otherwise it cannot be
depended upon with any degree of

Owing to the intimate connec-
tion of the eyes with the whole
nervous system, passing emotions
are very clearly indicated by the
expression of the eyes. "The love-
light in the eye" has been the
theme of amatory verse of all ages
and times. The various colors of
the pupils have been said to indi-
cate diverse characteristics. It was
Thompson Moore who wrote: —


"The brilliant black eye

May in triumph let fly

All its darts without caring who feels 'em;

But the soft eye of blue,

Though it scatter wounds, too,

It much better pleased when it heals 'em."

The eyes are capable of express-
ing not only general emotions and
broad traits of character, but also
ideas and specific thoughts. Not
only figuratively, but literally some
people "talk with their eyes."

In this accomplishment the Ori-
entals are especially proficient. Se-
cret information of a proposed con-
spiracy has been communicated
from one native to another, by the
eyes alone, even in the presence of

There is no feature of the hu-
mane physiognomy that gives a


more clearer indication of character
than do the eyes. Give Brutns the
fnrtive eyes of "lean and hungry"
Cassius, gentle Ophelia the pas-
sionate, burning orbs of Lady
Macbeth, and what a change is
wrought. We read of the clear
and piercing glance of Cardinal
Richeleu, the "penetrating stab of
the eyes of Bonaparte; the mystic-
dreaming eyes of Swedenburg and
we feel that the eye described
stands for the man — is the true in-
dex of his character.

To the eye then, we can search
for aid in estimating character, and
the hygienic measures adopted to
improve the one cannot fail to cor-
respondingly strengthen the other.

"I look upon the fair blue skies,

And nought but empty air I see;

But when I turn me to thine eyes,

It seemeth unto me

Ten thousand angels spread their wings

Within those litte azure rings."

— O. W. Holmes.



"Age cannot change nor custom
stale Her infinite variety." — Thus
wrote Shakespeare of Cleopatra, the
most beautiful woman of ancient
times. The great Caesar fell prey
to her charms, and in her wondrous
Egyptian eyes Mark Antony read
the secret .of his destiny. From


the testimony of contemporary his
torians we learn that the chief
charm of the wonderful women la}'
in the mysterious splendor of her
eyes. Dark, lustrous, large they
mirrored the placid twilight of the
Egyptian days, -or the passionate
burning of the noonday sun. Bnt
not only were her eyes the windows
of Cleopatra's emotive nature; they
as well expressed the fire and vigor
of an intellect unsurpassed in
brilliancy and resource by any an-
cient or modern queen. The mis-
tress of a dozen tongues, versed in
the lore of the ancient philosophies,
Kigh Priestess of Isis and Osiris,
we are told by Plutarch that her
eyes, even more adequately than


her tongue, gave expression to the
brilliancy and versatility of her

Wherein this wonderful power
of expression consists, physiolo-
gists have never been able to de-
termine. Like beauty in its vari-
ous manifestations, by its very
elusive mystery it charms as it be-
wilders us. Many theories of the
beautiful have been advanced by
philosophers at various times, but
in no instance have they been able
adequately to explain hoiv or why
certain combinations of colors and
of form should excite pleasant
rather than unpleasant sensations.
And this is specially true of the
eyes. The most delicate instru-


ments might not be able to estab-
lish a perceptible difference in
color, form or size of two pairs of
eyes, and still one pair might be
considered beautiful and the other

Bnt if we leave the consideration
of abstract beauty to the student of
aesthetics, and take it from the
simpler ground of practical hy-
giene, many very substantial es-
sentials to beautiful eyes may prof-
itably be considered. The eye to
be beautiful must be clear It mttsl
be free from defects — myopia, ob
liquity, astigmatism. The lashes
must be of a proper length, the
lids healthy and the whites free
from the discolorations of impure


blood. A perfect digestion, a
healthy and energetic circulation
of the blood, a delicate nervous
poise, are all physical prerequisites
to beautiful eyes. Form, color and
size, however important in them-
selves, avail nothing without the
lustre and brilliancy and express-
ion imparted by general physical
tone, and though the shape and
color of the eyes can never be
changed, they can be greatly im-
proved in strength and appearance
by the rational system of constitu-
tional and hygienic treatment to be
considered later.

In concluding this chapter it
may be well to also mention that
not only does the eye give express-


ion to traits of character, as stated
in a preceding chapter, but no de-
velopment of character is possible
without a corresponding develop-
ment of the power of expression in
the eye.

"Don't trust that man" you often
hear one person say of another;
and in answer to your demand for
a reason you are told "that he
never looks one straight in the
eye." Children especially are
usually able to read correctly the
character from the eyes, while er-
minologists and alienists tell us
that the criminal and the insane
can be invariably be recognized by a
peculiarly furtive expression of the
eyes that they cannot disguise even


by the greatest cunning.

On the other hand the value of
the eye to actors, and orators is
universally conceded. Who has
not read of the flashing eyes of
Patrick Henry? of Webster, Cal-
houn & Clay? While one of the
most striking and remarkable plays
on the stage to-day is dependent
for realistic effect upon the wonder-
ful ability of the actor to transform,
in the presence of his audience and
without resorting to extraneous
aids, the mild and gentle eyes of
Dr. Jekyl to the cruel and devil-
ish eyes of Mr. Hyde.

"Sight is priceless, and for this reason
when the eyes need help they need the best
help."— Prof. J. H. Greer, M.D.

"Millions of eyes are rendered miser-
able to look upon, or from, by the drugifica-
tions of doctoring, washes, lotions, leeching,
blistering, bleeding, calomelizing, etc."—
R. T. Trail, M.D.

"L/Ojk on his eyes, and thou wilt find

A sadness in their beam,

Like the pensive shades that willows cast

On the sky-reflected stream."

— Eliza Cook.


There is no evil that has accom-
panied modern civilization so close-
ly as that of weak eyes. Along
with the growth of the newspaper
from a fonr-paged, four-columned
sheet printed with large type, to
the sixty-four page ' 'Sunday Edi-
tion" printed on inferior paper,
and frequently with very small
type, has appeared a progressive



degeneration of the visual powers.
It is "the reading habit" that has
also called attention to this weak-
ness of the eyes, and cheap poorly
printed literature has had much to
do towards producing this condi-
tion. The progress of science that
has for its object the study of ab-
normal manifestations, the appli-
cation of greatly complicated meth-
ods in consideration of such phe-
nomena, is likewise partly respon-
sible for this condition of affairs.
For as the body of science has in-
creased in magnitude, further
knowledge along these particular
lines has been acquired only by
the development of various special-
ties wherein the individual inves-


tigator concentrates his powers
upon a certain line of research to
the exclusion of all other knowl-
edge. As a result life in all its
abnormal details has been analyzed
and dissected as never before in
the history of the world, with the
further result that things have
been magnified and distorted ont
of all relation to each other. This
microscopic scrutiny of things ab-
normal and the neglect of the nor-
mal have developed what may be
called the corrective treatment as
opposed to the preventative treat-
ment in remedying diseased con-
ditions. Thus handicapped, men
of science do not treat causes ex-
cept in the light of effects. They


have followed the erroneous conclu-
sion that the elimination of effects
is the same as the destruction of
causes; that corrective remedial
agencies are efficacious even if they
ignore the causes, and the fact that
there is an ever active tendency in
the body to cure itself if allowed
an opportunity is almost universal-
ly ignored.

As a consequence of this error,
we find in this special line, not only
adults but children depending
upon artificial means for relief from
the effects of imperfect vision. In-
stead of prescribing a rational con-
stitutional treatment for weakness
and defects of the eyes — absolutely
the only means that can bring


about a proper adjustment of ner-
vous system of which the sense of
sight is an important part — the
"specialist" recommends the em-
ployment of local correctives, the
final effect of which is to perma-
nently impair if not absolutely de-
stroy, the organ subject to such

In illustration of the inefficacy
of the local corrective treatment,
may be cited the name of Charles
Broadway Rouss, the Merchant
Prince, and Joseph Pulitzer, Editor
and owner of the New York World.

The case of Mr. Rouss is par-
ticularly interesting. From the
beginning of his trouble he has
consulted the greatest specialists


in the world, he has employed an
"understudy" npon whom all op-
erations were performed to test
their efficacy before being tried on
himself. He has offered fabulous
sums to anyone who could save
him from total blindness, but with-
out avail. With his body grad-
ually weakening, not only his
muscular system by his entire ner-
vous organization gradually deter-
iorated. The blood under these
circumstances loses its virility and
healing power and in his case a
decadence of visual power began
that no treatment ever benefited
for the reason that the necessity
for up-building the entire bodily
structure was never recognized.


Milton blind could scarcely ap-
preciate the value of good eye sight
to one living the strenuous life of
to-day. The complexity of con-
temporary social life, the diversity
of interests of the Twentieth Cen-
tury, intellectual, industrial and
artistic, were undreamed of by the
greatest of Milton's time. Com-
petition has never been so keen,
the draft made upon the energies
and capabilities of the individual
has never been so great as at pres-
ent, and he whose visual powers
are threatened is indeed an object
of universal commiseration. What
is left for the blind when thousands
of otherwise sound and capable be-
ings are disqualified for the field


of labor by a comparatively trifling
defect of vision? Should the en-
tire male population of the United
States make application for certain
classes of railway employment,
color blindness alone would dis-
qualify at least five per cent, or
more than two millions of people.
If to color-blindness be added rayo-
pia, astigmatism and hyperopia, at
least double that number w r ould
have to starve so far as our great
railroad corporations are concerned.
Nor is railroading alone the only
field of labor from which the man
of defective vision is excluded. « A
large army of men are employed in
illustrating of various kinds; in
the plants of corporations engaged


m the production of posters for
advertising purposes to which may
be added photographers, artists,
landscape gardners and others, all
of whom depend for their daily
bread on unimpaired eyesight.

The magnetic power that many
possess may likewise be traced to
the same source. To sedulously
care for the eyes should then be
one's first duty. It is the first of
all the organs of special sense. Be-
fore adopting any course of cor-
rective treatment, every natural
means of securing relief by
strengthening the nervous system
should be conscientiously tried.
When satisfied that the cause of
the trouble is not in the general



nervous system, other methods can
then be tried.

'Her eyes are homes of silent prayer.''

— Tennyson, In Memoriam



Nearly everyone has observed
the peculiarly lustreless and ex-
pressionless condition of the eyes
of an intoxicated person. They
roll heavily and meaninglessly in
their sockets, devoid of expression
and fire. This proves most con-
clusively how intimate is the con-
nection between the nervous sys-
tem and the eyes. In fact the eyes
like the tongue are a fair index of


the condition of one's stomach,
whether that condition be induced
by intemperate indulgence in
drugs, liquor, tobacco, or by over-
work, improper food or gormandiz-

If the functions of the various
organs are properly performed
blood is furnished to the eyes in
all its purity. The eyes nourished
with pure rich blood are brilliant,
healthy and strong. But if the
defecting organs are slow and tor-
pid in their functions, a sluggish
circulation of impure blood follows,
and the eyes, along with the other
bodily organs, grow weak and dull.
Imperfect digestion and general
nervous debility affect the power


of the eyes for usefulness as well
as their appearance. — So true is
this, that one may safely assert
that nearly every case of defective
vision not caused by intemperate
use is made possible by the gen-
eral debility of the whole system
rather than the local causes usual-
ly blamed. The futility of apply-
ing local remedies thus becomes
manifest. They fail to remove the
cause of the trouble. To the true
occulist the eyes should be, as in
fact they are, the thermometer of
health; and the first step in the
diagnosis of every case submitted
for treatment should be a careful
investigation of the patient's gen-
eral physical condition- If, upon


examination, it be found that lie
is suffering from pronounced gen-
eral debility, the very first efforts
should be directed towards the cor-
rection of that and towards the es-
tablishment of a healthy nervous

A prescription consisting of a
simple nutritious and obstemious
diet, fresh air and exercise, to-
gether with the local and other
treatment advised, will usually re-
store the eyes.

"His dark, pensive eye,

Speaks the high soul, the thought sublime,

That dwells on immortality."

— Charlotte Elizabeth



Leaving out physical weakness
one of the chief causes of weak
eyes is overwork. To persist in
fine needlework when the eyes have
registered a protest; to read fine
print, or coarse print on inferior
paper; to strain the eyes by at-
tempting to read in a dim light, is
but to court disaster for the visual



powers. Strained eyes like sprained
ankles cannot be cured in a day,
nor by the application of local
remedial agents alone. Time, rest,
general nervous relaxation, assist-
ed by physical culture, dietetic and
general constitutional treatment
can alone effect a cure.

The eyes are weakened frequent-
ly by the cumulative effect of per-
sistent abuses, and only by per-
sistence in the opposite course can
relief be secured. Let us take for
instance the weak eye resulting
from a disregard of optical require-
ments. Thousands of school chil-
dren sit with the light pouring
through uncurtained windows
sheer into their eyes, week after


week, and month after month re-
gardless of the well-known evil
effect snch a practice mnst inevi-
tably produce. Even the most ig-
norant of amateur Photographers
would not think of turning his
camera towards the sun to secure
acceptable impressions of even the
largest of objects; but a silly and
reckless school board will so ar-
range desks that it becomes neces-
sary for the pupil to turn a far
more delicate instrument directly
towards the light of day in order
to learn to read and write.

Just as the sensation film in a
camera is impaired, if not ruined
by the untempered rays, so the
more delicate retina of the eye


suffers from the same cause. For-
tunately the eye is able usually to
recuperate, to repair the tissues
abused, otherwise the injury
would be immediate and irrepara-
ble. Bnt even the recuperative
powers of youth are frequently ex-
hausted, and thousands of young
people leave school with a defective
vision that the simplest regards for
light requirements might have
made impossible.

As before stated, eyes are not
weakened in a day, nor are they
cured in a day. For years a mother
sews by a dim inadequate light.
She does not rest when they feel
fatigued. At length her eyes give
out. She consults an occulist, who


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Online LibraryBernarr MacfaddenStrong eyes; how weak eyes may be strengthened and spectacles discarded → online text (page 1 of 3)