Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/95

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lamp, while the schoolboy with his text-books is found somewhere in the outer circle.

Twilight-reading is much practised, and is especially pernicious—that is, prolonging the study or reading after daylight has begun to decline. The change is so stealthy that, when the interest is excited, and the mind absorbed, the growing darkness is unheeded or unobserved, till serious mischief is done.

A curious and interesting case of injury to the sight by study is that of Prof. John Nott, late of Union College, Schenectady. Over thirty years ago his sight was permanently destroyed for all literary purposes, "by attempting," as he says in a recent letter to the writer of this, "too much study without thought of the necessity of care for the eyes." How many are following after him! In the same letter he thus describes his case as diagnosed by Dr. Alexander, of London, who alone of all whom he consulted was able to afford him even temporary and partial relief: "Thirty-six very small glands in the eyelids make oil for the eye, the same as oil for your lamp. When these glands become dry, reading is impossible, although in other respects the eye may be perfect. This was my disease—no oil was supplied to the eye." He makes or implies this noteworthy suggestion, which is hereby commended to authors, publishers, and school-boards: that a brief and appropriate caution be conspicuously printed or pasted in the front of every school and college text-book, by authority of commissioners, superintendent, trustees, or faculty. Something like the following would perhaps realize his idea:


Caution.—Reader, your eyesight is worth more to you than any information you are likely to gain from this book, however valuable that may be. You are therefore earnestly cautioned

1. To be sure that you have sufficient light, and that your position be such that you not only avoid the direct rays upon your eyes, but that you also avoid the angle of reflection. In writing, the light should be received over the left shoulder.

2. That you avoid a stooping position and a forward inclination of the head. Hold the book up. Sit erect also when you write.

3. That at brief intervals you rest the eyes by looking off and away from the book for a few moments.

And you are further cautioned to avoid as much as possible books and papers printed in small type, and especially such as are poorly printed; also to avoid straining or overtaxing the sight in any way.

Boys may need to be reminded of the great importance of thoroughly cleansing the eyes with soft, pure water both morning and evening.


To many readers it would no doubt be interesting to consider how each of the practices and conditions we have pointed out as producing