My wife Donna and I celebrated 20 years of marriage last month. It has been a great 20 years, and we have been blessed with 2 wonderful children, a son Rob, who is 19, and a daughter Crystal, who will be 18 next month. Both children are healthy, and are doing well in school. The only problem is Crystal’s very high myopia, which has increased steadily since she first got her glasses while she was in kindergarten. Crystal’s eye examination last week saw her myopia increase by over –2D, and she is now wearing her latest, new pair of –23D myodiscs. We are pleased that she does seem to have pretty good vision with her glasses, even with such a strong prescription, and Doctor Ellis, seems to feel that she might have leveled out. Rob is also quite nearsighted, but his progression seemed to slow down around –15D, about the same level of myopia that his mother and I have.
When Donna and I got married, Donna had a prescription of around –3D, and on our wedding day, I remember carrying her glasses for her in the pocket of my tux. Although her vision was pretty blurred, she would only put them on very rarely in those days, and our wedding day was a day that her specs stayed in my pocket most of the day. She had tried hard contact lenses, but she just couldn’t get past the hurting stage, so until she tried the soft lenses that came on the market later in her life, she wore glasses to see. She tried the soft lenses, but really didn’t like putting the lenses in her eyes, so she gave up on them. And as her myopia progressed, she, thus, was forced to wear her glasses all the time to be able to see. And, that is what first attracted me to Donna. I had, and still have this thing about women wearing glasses. I love glasses, always have, always will. When Donna and I were married I myself was wearing a –6D prescription in my glasses. I had started a few years before by wearing an old pair of my older brother’s glasses, and when I did get my eyes examined, only to find that I had not been able to get my eyes up to the –2D that he wore, I was given a prescription of –1D. I took the –1, and changed it to a –4 for both eyes, and bought a pair of glasses. Then I went back and got another copy of my prescription from the doctor, changed the –1D to read –6D, and got a second pair of glasses in this script, as well. I wore the –4D glasses until I felt comfortable with them, and then I moved up to the –6D glasses.
So, when we returned from our honeymoon, we moved to Smalltown, a village of about 16,000 inhabitants, located in the mid south. I had been fortunate enough to find a job with the public utilities department, looking after the sewage treatment plant, and Donna went to work as an administrative assistant for the mayor. Things were looking good for us. Donna must have become pregnant with Rob while we were on our honeymoon, and when he was due; she took a temporary leave from her job. But after he was born, she soon returned to work. The pay was good, she enjoyed working, and the work was a snap for her. We had a great sitter as well, a widow lady who owned the house next door.
Somewhere between the time of our arrival in town, and the birth of our daughter, Crystal, Donna and I both discovered that we were not seeing very well, and our distance vision had deteriorated a bit. I was just thrilled about this, as I had worn glasses steadily now for about 10 years, and had never had a legitimate prescription since I had my original –1D prescription. I left Doctor Ellis’s office with a prescription of –7.50D, and Donna required an increase in her prescription, giving her around –5.50D. Doctor Ellis had a state of the art lens lab and optical store right next to his office, so we both purchased new frames and lenses there. I loved to see Donna with her new glasses, as the increased prescription gave her face that cut in look that I found so erotic in a woman. And, I never seemed to get tired of looking at myself in a mirror wearing my own new glasses, which were pretty thick since they were just regular plastic in a fairly large eye size, wire frame.
Donna was pregnant with Crystal, and had taken leave the last week of her pregnancy. The day before Crystal was born, Donna told me that she was going to have to have another eye exam, as she was having a lot of trouble with her distance vision again. She could no longer read the street signs and recognize people that were farther away than 15’. It had only been a year since her last increase. Crystal was born with jaundice, and was kept in the hospital for a few extra days, so before we brought her home we both made appointments with Doctor Ellis. Donna had to have another –1.5D increase, making her new glasses just a little bit weaker than mine were. I needed no increase, although I would gladly have taken Donna’s increase for myself.
I don’t really remember, but I think that Donna and I both had at least one, maybe 2 small increases before we took Crystal and Rob for their eye exams, when Crystal was 5. I know that when Crystal had her eyes examined, she was found to require a fairly strong prescription of –5D, and Rob at 6 1/2 also was given glasses for his –3D of myopia. I also know that was the year that Donna and I both broke the –10D mark, and the thickness of our glasses was a real turn on for me. Neither of us could see a thing without our glasses.
Over the next few years, Crystal’s eyesight continued to deteriorate and she required stronger and stronger glasses. It was, in a couple of cases, fortunate that Doctor Ellis had such a great lab, as I believe that one year, Crystal required 2 changes in less than 2 months. These were not massive changes, but to a child in school, anything less than good vision can create a problem. And, because Doctor Ellis was able to help her see clearly, Crystal worshipped him, and had her heart set on becoming an optometrist, or an ophthalmologist just like him.
I also think it was around the time that Crystal appeared in her grade 8 Christmas play that I noticed every child in her class wore glasses for the correction of myopia, some of them quite strong. Looking around the faces of all the parents and grandparents in the auditorium, I also noticed a very large percentage of them wearing glasses, but other than admire the ladies with strong prescriptions, I really didn’t think much of it. About a month later, I was coaching Rob’s hockey team, and I realized that every boy on the team was nearsighted, and wore glasses, again some of them pretty strong. I began to put things together in my mind, and as I walked around town over the next few weeks, I really began to take notice of the large number of people wearing glasses. There were, of course, a lot of women who didn’t wear glasses, but I started to check their eyes for the telltale signs of contact lenses. Almost all of them seemed to be wearing contacts. At work, I noticed that almost everyone wore glasses. My secretary was a contact lens wearer, and I asked her about her contacts and how long she had worn them. She told me her eyes had just gone ballistic since she had started working, and she was now so nearsighted that she couldn’t even see far enough in front of her nose to read without her glasses or contacts. She took her glasses out of her purse to show me a really thick pair of biconcave lensed plastic framed glasses, probably with a prescription in the –17 to –18D range. She told me that according to Doctor Ellis, she had a severe case of progressive, adult myopia, and that she would likely need stronger and stronger glasses all the rest of her life.
I had been nominated for a town councilor, and I let the nomination stand. I was elected, and from then on, my Thursday evenings were spent at council meetings. Every year, we let out tenders for all the goods and services that we bought, and after a couple of years, I noticed that the lowest bid for the supply and replacement of all electric lights, ballasts, and florescent tubes was the local firm of “Smalltown Wholesale Plumbing, Heating and Electrical Supply”. Their bid was consistently 15% lower than the next lowest bid. Of course, they got the work. I also discovered that the town was having a problem finding police and fire fighters that could pass the vision exam. Previous councils had to go to neighboring towns and cities to hire new recruits, but these towns and cities now needed their own people for their police and fire departments. And, even if a candidate had passed the vision requirement when he or she was hired, it seemed that their vision always deteriorated after a few years on the job. They had hired a local girl as an officer back when Donna and I first came to town, and in only 14 years, her vision had deteriorated so badly that she no longer had good enough corrected vision to drive and pass the vision exam for police officers, and she was reduced to doing clerical and dispatch work. But, we couldn’t fire her, as her eyesight had deteriorated while she was on the job. Actually, I fell in love with her the first time I met her. She was a stunning girl - tall, fair smoothed skinned, with dark hair and dark blue eyes, and I loved the way her tiny eyes peered out from behind the thick –28D, myodisc lenses of her glasses. As much as we hated to, we were forced to lower our vision requirements to 20/30 with correction to be able to fully staff our police and fire departments.
I hadn’t realized how spoiled our town had been with Doctor Ellis’s wonderful optical lab until a couple of years ago. Donna, Crystal and I had just gotten new prescriptions, and Crystal and Donna were tired of the CR39 plastic lenses that was all that we could get from Dr. Ellis’ lab. The technician at Doctor Ellis’s lab had told us that if we wanted to order new glasses, we could have them all within a couple hours – even Crystal’s –21D myodiscs, as their lab could do up to –26D within a few hours. But, the girls wanted to see about thinner, nicer looking lenses, so after a discussion between the 3 of us, we decided to drive to the larger city next to us, where we felt we would have a much better selection of frames, and a wider choice in types of lenses. So, although I liked the thickness of the regular plastic, I was outvoted, and off we went. After a few hours of visiting different optical stores, we found that our best bet was still right at home. Some of the opticians hadn’t ever seen a prescription as strong as Crystal’s, and those that could help us, told us that it could take up to a month or more to get her lenses. And, it wasn’t much better for Donna and me, with our –14.50D prescriptions. No one could even think about a few hours service. So we returned to Smalltown, and we all had our new glasses that evening.
I was looking around on the Internet one evening a few weeks later, and I came across an article that was on an old study done 20 or 25 years ago. This study was about the effects of certain types of florescent lighting on eyesight. Some of the different types of incandescent bulbs had been found to cause myopia in schoolchildren. But, what really interested me was the name of the premed student that was involved with the study. It was a John Ellis. Was this the same Doctor Ellis who had become the ophthalmologist here in Smalltown? I resolved to find out.
After a couple of days of checking around, I found out that Doctor John Ellis had indeed attended the university that had done the study. But, what intrigued me even more, was when I found Doctor Ellis listed as a partner in all of the Optometrists’ offices that had opened here in Smalltown since he had come to town. Then I found that he also had an interest in every optical store in town. It seems that he had all of the eye care business in town sewn up.
I did some more Internet research, and I discovered that in a typical population base, 30% of the population is nearsighted. Out of this 30%, 30% of them have myopia that is over –6D. That meant that in a town of our size, with the population now at 21,000 people, 6,300 should be myopic. Of that 6,300 people, 1,890 of them should have a level of myopia over –6D. Then of that number,1% or less should have had what is considered severe myopia, which is greater than –10D. This meant that there should be no more than 20 residents with very high myopia. Here in Smalltown, I would venture a guess that 100% of the adult population was myopic, and of the adult population, I didn’t think there was even one that had myopia of less than –6D. Many were in the range of –15 to –20D, and quite a few much greater than –20D. I started to add it up in my head. My daughter had at least 5 of her classmates that wore myodiscs, with prescriptions greater than –20D. My son had at least 4 of his classmates that wore myodiscs. There was the policewoman, with the really strong myodiscs, and my secretary now also had myodiscs. The fellow who was the butcher at the local grocery store, and one of the cashiers there both had myodiscs. One of the ladies at the bank wore myodiscs, and the girl who was the cashier at the dollar store, and her older sister, both wore myodiscs. As I was adding it up, I remembered the family down the street. The father, the mother and the 3 daughters all wore very strong myodiscs, with the youngest daughter being almost legally blind. I had counted more than 22 people that were extremely high myopes, and I knew I had forgotten quite a few others. This was no typical result. This was an epidemic!
While I was checking things out, just for the fun of it, I looked up the ownership records of Smalltown Wholesale Plumbing, Heating and Electrical Supply. A numbered company was listed as the owner. When I checked into the ownership of the numbered company, one director was listed as a John Ellis, and the secretary/treasurer was Marjorie Ellis, his wife. Was it possible that the research Doctor Ellis had done many years ago in medical school, had lead him to creating his own customers?
I didn’t really want to know the answer to this, as I was shocked. If it was the case, what Doctor Ellis had done had provided me with the greatest pleasure of my life. Highly myopic women surrounded me everywhere in town, and I had loved every minute of my viewing pleasure. Also, if this had happened, he had been the person I could thank for the increase in my own, and my wife’s myopia. I wasn’t all that happy with what had happened to Crystal’s eyesight though. But, I presumed that Crystal would likely have been naturally quite myopic, as her brother had ended up with around –15D of myopia, and that was a wonderful range of myopia to have, as far as I was concerned. But, what should I do?
The following evening, I resolved my dilemma. I went to see Doctor John Ellis, at his home, and I confronted him with the information I had obtained about his research when he was a med student and the various companies he owned. I put it to him that he had deliberately supplied schools and businesses with the incandescent bulbs that his earlier research had found to create myopia. By doing this he produced high myopes to obtain business for his practice and optical labs. He became quite nervous and was very sorry, and contrite, and promised to end it immediately. This wasn’t what I wanted, so after a bit more discussion, we developed an agreeable solution. He sold me a 10% interest in all of his businesses, and I became a silent partner in his continuing enterprises.
Specs4ever, with editing, and some additions by Aliena