Back From The Future

by Specs4ever

“So doctor, what are you saying is wrong with my daughter’s eyesight?”

“She is so extremely nearsighted Emperor that she can’t focus on her VVDS.” Doctor Six replied.

“But that is the reason why we all have VVDSs.” The tall, distinguished man said.

“Well, this is true. I believe that the high prevalence of myopia in young children was the main reason why everyone started to use VDS about a century ago. However, VDS isn’t a panacea for everyone. There are at least 100,000 cases I am aware of like your daughter, whose vision is too bad to even focus on the video display screen.” Doctor Six said.

“You mean to tell The Empress and I that our daughter, who is only 8 years old will no longer be able to see well enough to function. How can this be? I am the Emperor of The World. I am the most powerful man on the planet. There must be something to help her.” The emperor replied.

“Yes, there was over a hundred years ago Emperor. But with the invention of the VDS in Taiwan in the early part of the 21st century the other means of helping severely nearsighted people quickly fell into disuse. From what I have read in old books there were things that people wore on their faces called spectacles, which had lenses that were ground to correct whatever deficiency of vision the person had. And then they invented contact lenses, which were worn right on the eye itself that also corrected the same deficiencies in vision. Also, they developed eye surgeries that could change the shape of a patient’s cornea, and give them fairly good vision. As well, there were things such as implantable contact lenses that were placed right inside the person’s eye to correct their vision back to around 20/20.” Doctor Six explained.

“But I have 20/20 vision Doctor. How can it be that these things corrected people to 20/20? The Emperor of the World asked.

“Actually emperor, you have what we consider 20/20 vision because you can see your VVDS at the proper position of 70mm from your eye. A hundred years ago, for you to have 20/20 vision you would have had to wear glasses with a prescription of around –15.00 diopters. This would have allowed you to read the numbers on an eye chart that was placed at a specific distance from your eyes. Over the years the term 20/20 vision has changed to describe people who can see the VVDS at the proper distance. The VVDS can be worn anywhere between 45mm, and 70 mm away from a person’s eye. And, in some cases, like that of your daughter, who has a small nose, they can wear their VVDS as close as 40 mm away from their eye. Because she is so severely myopic your daughter now needs to bring her VVDS to within 30mm of her eye, and she just can’t get it that close.” Doctor Six explained.

“Well, I will move heaven and Earth to help my daughter Doctor. You say there are at least another 100,000 people here on Earth who have the same problem?” The Emperor asked.

“There could be more Emperor, but that is a rough figure.” Doctor Six said.

“Well. We must find a way to help them, if only to help my daughter.” The Emperor replied.

Back in the early 2000’s young children were becoming very myopic. The worst cases were appearing in Taiwan, and Mainland China, with many 13 and 14-year-old girls wearing as high a correction as –10D. It was in Taiwan that the idea of VDS originated. The first video display screens were crude versions of the ones today. They were worn on a headband around the head, and everything the person saw was displayed on the screen in front of their eyes. Naturally I wasn’t around back then, but I have been fortunate enough to have seen some of the pictures that had been saved on the Internet of ladies who wore glasses. And, in my honest opinion, I found the wearing of glasses by a beautiful lady to be far more attractive than having a VVDS placed in front of their face. The original VDSes were clunky looking things. And, over the last 100 years they have changed. They are now a virtual video display screen, and while the virtual screen has to be aimed properly in front of the person’s face, at least now the screen is invisible.

And, what is seen in the screen is a complete panoramic view of everything around you. You can see directly in front of you, directly behind you, off to both sides, and all this just by switching your eyes between screens. Also, if you pick up a book, you can read perfectly. It is a wonderful way to experience panoramic vision. However, the downside of this VVDS thing has been that by the age of about 2 or 3 years of age every person is now nearsighted to the tune of about –15D, based on the 100-year-old system of measurement.

But Emperor One wanted me to see if his daughter could be helped. I knew where to start. In the Smithsonian Museum there was the last known existing complete working phoropter in the world. I requested, and was granted permission to use this phoropter to examine Daughter One’s eyes. I looked up the model and the manufacturer of the phoropter on the web. I found very little information about the company that had made it. They had been named Bash and Lamb, but I did discover that they had specialized in vision care, and had gone into receivership after the VDS came into use. However, I found a set of instructions for the Bash and Lamb phoropter on the web, and I downloaded a copy to my VVDS. Oh, I forgot to mention, the VVDS could also download and store everything and you can look at it later.

Daughter One and The Empress and I were transported to Washington. I sat Daughter One in front of the phoropter, and I began twisting the dials the way the instructions had told me to do. Fortunately the museum had the phoropter set up in a room that was an exact replica of an optometrist’s office from the year 2005, and all of the instruments were in perfect working order. Once I got the knack of the equipment I determined that Daughter One would require a prescription of –34.00 diopters in each eye to be able to see what they considered 20/20 in 2005. Now I had no idea what to do. There were no optical labs around that could grind prescription lenses, nor were there any frame manufacturers who made frames for glasses.

Just out of curiosity I decided to examine The Empress’s eyesight as well. According to the ancient form of measurement The Empress would have required a prescription of –20.00D in both eyes to be able to see the 20/20 standard. Then I got the bright idea that it would be interesting to examine my own eyes. I was shocked. I would require a prescription of –26.50D. No wonder I had been experiencing a little trouble seeing the VVDS as clearly as I should have.

We returned to the Capitol of the World. I reported my findings to The Emperor, and he authorized me to research the possibility of creating eyeglasses for his daughter. I revealed to The Emperor that my own vision had been growing dim lately, and he suggested that I too might benefit from a pair of eyeglasses. I also suggested that his wife, The Empress could be made a pair of eyeglasses as well, because we had gotten an accurate measurement of her prescription. Eventually The Emperor authorized me to have 3 pairs of eyeglasses made.

The authorization was necessary, however there was no place to buy eyeglasses. So I decided that I would first investigate to see if a lens could be created. The use of plastics had been superceded in most cases by a polymer. Unfortunately this polymer had no index of refraction, and I knew that in order to create an eyeglass lens we first had to find some clear plastic material with an index of refraction between 1.48, which was the common index of refraction in the last century, and a material with an index of refraction of around 2.00. I sent requests to all of the manufacturers of polymers, and I received a reply from one. This manufacturer suggested that they could provide me with pieces of clear resin plastic with an index of refraction of 1.40. I had no choice. The Emperor was asking me almost daily when I would have a pair of eyeglasses for his daughter to wear. So, I ordered a number of pieces of this resin with a thickness of 5 mm, and at least 10 cm x 10cm square. I received over 100 pieces this size from them.

I had done all sorts of research. I determined that at an index of refraction of 1.48, if I dished out a concave area based on a 2.54cm circle, I would get a convex lens with a prescription of –40D. I worked this all out right down to – 5D. A –30D prescription would require a 4.0cm circle, and a 20D would need a 5.1cm circle. It was easy to work this out. But it was all based on 1.48 index, and I had to work with 1.40. After a lot of calculations I decided that a –30D prescription would be around –28.50D in 1.40. So, as I had read in some of the old articles, I decided that I would make a lens with a back curve from a 4cm circle, and a front curve from a 13cm circle. I found a person who could put these concave curves into the plastic. I knew that it was very important to have the center point at exactly the same place on each side, and we were able to do this. Then I polished the concave surfaces of the lens I had just made. Finally I was satisfied with the clarity. I had figured the correct curves and made my own lenses, as well as the lenses of The Empress as well. Now all I needed was eyeglass frames.

This is where I ran into a bit of good fortune. I had been searching all over the world, and I unearthed a forgotten collection of already made eyeglass frames. I selected a frame for my own lenses, and I managed to crudely shape the lenses so the frame would hold them in. When I put these eyeglasses on I marveled at how different everything appeared now that I didn’t have the VVDS showing me my view of everything. This was wonderful. And, since I was now able to see what I was doing through the lenses of my eyeglasses I was better able to fit the lenses into a suitable pair of frames for Daughter One, and The Empress. I wasn’t thrilled with the appearance of any of these glasses, because the lenses were very thick and chunky looking, but I felt that the ability to see without a VVDS in front of my face overcame the appearance of the glasses.

Once I had finished I took the new eyeglasses to show them to The Emperor. He called for his wife and daughter, and they came, excited to be able to see without wearing the VVDS. When Daughter One placed her new eyeglasses on her face she was filled with joy. She could now see. And The Empress was also overjoyed that her daughter could now see again, and also that she too had a different view of the world.

A day later The Emperor called me into his chamber again.

“Doctor Six, I would like to thank you for your service. I am promoting you to the position of Doctor One. Henceforth you will be in charge of the eyesight of the whole world. I want you to hand pick a group of people, and train them to examine the eyes of all my subjects, and have glasses made for them so that we can do away with these VVDSs. But before you do that Doctor, could you please make me a pair of glasses. The Empress is ecstatic with her newly found eyesight, free of the encumbrances of the VVDS, and I also would like to experience this freedom.” The Emperor said.

I had suspected this might happen, so I had also constructed a pair of men’s glasses with a prescription of approximately –15.00D.

“Put these on Emperor, and see how they feel.” I requested.

He did, and shut down his VVDS. “Oh, this is wonderful Doctor. Why did the World ever abandon eyeglasses in favor of VVDS?”

“I suspect that the novelty of VVDS caused the decline in the eyeglass wearers. Back when eyeglasses were still popular most people considered them a necessary nuisance. Many people would go to any length in order to not wear eyeglasses. They even had little plastic lenses placed inside their eyes to allow them to see without eyeglasses.” I replied.

“Really? My, what fools they were back then. These eyeglasses are so simple to wear. And the view is not nearly as confusing as it is looking through a VVDS. A person has to really concentrate on what screen they are watching. Why just last week I walked into a wall because I glanced at the wrong screen. That would never happen with eyeglasses.” The Emperor told me happily.

Since it was my mandate to examine the eyesight of every person in the world, I first had to find a company to manufacture copies of the old Bash and Lamb phoropter. Then I had to find another company to manufacture the necessary equipment to grind the lenses. Also I had to convince a manufacturer to make eyeglass frames, as well as to find someone to make the necessary machinery to fit the lenses to the frames. Fortunately for the most part we had the machinery necessary to do this that could be copied, and remanufactured in museums all over the world.

Training my teams was difficult. First we had to examine all of the team member’s eyes, and have glasses with the proper correction made for each of them. But once the team members had their very own glasses to wear they were sold on the idea. Before long we had a phoropter available in every major community in the world, and my teams fanned out to examine the eyesight of the population. The most common prescription was around –20.00D, the same as The Empress. We did find quite a few people with prescriptions stronger than Daughter One, but for the most part a low prescription was about –15D. Even children of 3 and 4, after only a couple of years of wearing the VVDS, required this prescription.

As more and more glasses were made, the people in the plastic industry came up with different formulas for plastic. There was now a 2.00 hi index plastic lens that was useful for the extreme cases of myopia. The general population was satisfied with a 1.67 or a 1.74. And now there were many choices for frames for your glasses. A number of manufacturers had begun making frames. One of the frame manufacturers had discovered the machinery used by an optical frame manufacturer in the early 2000’s, and they were pumping out these retro frames with no end in sight. Now that they had a choice, people wanted 5 or 6 pairs of eyeglasses.

We had always started children off wearing their VVDS at around the age of 2 years. Now I was discovering that there was virtually no myopia present in these young children who had not yet been wearing a VVDS. As time went on I discovered that without the VVDS simple myopia didn’t seem to occur until the children were around 8 or 9, and the myopia they had at this age was often only around –1D. With the proper vision training many of these same children did not have to wear glasses at all.

I did not suspect that it would be possible to eliminate myopia in the population of the World. But I did expand on my theories to The Emperor, and he authorized a study. The study of the complete world came to the conclusion that in the future no more than 60% of the entire population would now become myopic. Of this 60% around 10% would become high myopes, with a prescription of over –10D. And of these high myopes, only 10% of them would ever develop extreme myopia.

I searched the web for information about the prevalence of myopia in the early 2000’s. I found a match for my search. Back in the year 2005 about 60% of the population was myopic. This was made up of American’s, who had around 30% of their population that was myopic, Asians, which had as high as 90% of their population that was myopic, and various other ethnic races, for an average of around 60%. Of this 60% about 10% were considered high myopes, and of this 10%, only 10% were severe myopes. We were back where we had started from about 100 years ago. The only difference was that there were no longer any eye surgeries, lens implants or contact lenses available.

And, is that a problem you might ask? – Not as far as I am concerned.


June 2007