Tuesday, 25 February 2014

About Alex Frauenfeld / The Frauenfeld Clinic

When you are searching for insights on the subject of myopia, there are a few camps you will likely step into.

Recognizing which camp the opinions come from, will help you understand their biases and motivations.  I am of course in one of these camps - as such my opinions invariably are biased as well.  Still, in the interest of intelligent debate, we want to allow various perspectives to coexist.

Let's take a look at the major groups:

1.  The Mainstream

This one doesn't need much introduction.  They range from the chain store optic shop which is in business to sell you fashion frames and lenses, to the retinal surgeon with the million dollars in equipment, student loans, and a (let's be fair here) biased educational background.

The mainstream is not wrong.

There is a very large amount of value that comes from a lot of these mainstream outlets.  High quality lenses, an ever growing resource of experiences, research, and treatments for a number of eyesight related ailments all deserve credit in this camp.

The problem with this camp is that there is often very little latitude in what they know as acceptable treatments.  The premise of "if I haven't heard of it, it can't exist" is not uncommon here.

What makes it difficult for individuals looking for alternatives, is the often very closed of nature of this camp.  Can you reduce your myopia?  It is, in all fairness a debated subject.  The debate exists, because there is more than one side here.  If nobody was able to do it, there wouldn't be much of a debate.  The degree of feasibility, the methods, the outcomes, granted, deserve scrutiny.

Let's move on to the other camps:

2.  The Alternative Therapists - (Professional)

Wikipedia has an interesting (though incomplete) article on one of the bigger field of this camp, the behavioral optometrist:
In 1944-1945 the Wilmer Eye Institute of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore undertook a study of the use of behavioral optometry in the treatment ofmyopia.[8] The training was undertaken by A. M. Skeffington and his associates, who traveled to Baltimore for the purpose, but who used a clinic outside the hospital, and were carefully kept apart from the staff in the Wilmer Institute who assessed their progress. The 103 candidates were school students and young adults with uncomplicated myopia. Independent examination before and after training was undertaken using Snellen charts, and use of a retinoscopeafter introduction of a cycloplegic agent. The examining physicians "were impressed by a psychologic improvement in a number of patients. Some patients while exhibiting no material change in their visual acuity, were nevertheless convinced that they saw better and that they used their eyes with greater satisfaction to themselves." The objective results were as follows. Of the 103 subjects:
  • 30 showed some improvement on all measures
  • 31 showed overall improvement, but not on all measures
  • 32 showed no overall change
  • 10 showed deterioration of vision
The report's author concludes "With the possible exception of educating some patients to interpret blurred retinal images more carefully and of convincing some others that they could see better even though there was no actual improvement, this study indicates that the visual training used on these patients was of no value for the treatment of myopia."
A review of the data undertaken in 1991 by two behavioural optometrists and published in the Journal of Behavioural Optometry, concludes that there were statistically significant positive changes in visual acuity due to the exercises and that the original conclusion that myopia reduction vision training is ineffective is unfounded. [9] Visual neuro-rehabilitation for congenital/developmental concerns as well as visual concerns related to trauma and pathology arewell founded.
The full article is here.

That leaves some room for debate, as we talked about a moment ago.  Still, it isn't entirely encouraging, in terms of alternatives for those seeking recovery from myopia.

From there, we want to look at the investigative folks.  The Journal of Investigative Opthalmology is an excellent resource, for those with the patience to do some heavy reading.  Here we have lots of clinical research and studies, going beyond the mainstream camp, and expanding on what the behavioral optometrists look to accomplish.

I myself belong in this camp, and personally have seen more success in myopia recovery, than warrants any doubt from me, as to its effectiveness (in many, though of course not all cases).

You will tend to see a lot of attacks from the mainstream camp, towards alternative therapy.  Why this is we can only speculate on - but it's a bit like that friend who is really into Mac (or PC), or any other near-religious need to disavow anything not fitting some narrowly chosen dogma.

While I am biased, as it stands, your choice is to either a) go with the mainstream camp advice, or b) dip into the waters of alternative therapy, and come to your own conclusions based on your own experiences.

And then, there is yet another camp:

3.  The Natural Healers / Pseudo Science / Non Science 

You will find these guys writing books that sell on Amazon, in countless online forums, and various other venues.  This is more of an online phenomenon than anything else, but it certainly has a following.

This isn't unique.  For every human ailment, there is this contingent.

You will find the mainstream dismissing these, and the alternative therapists cursing under the breath.  These guys tend to be who the serious therapists get lumped in by the mainstream, and used to dismiss any alternative to permanently wearing some form of correction.

And here again, there is room for debate.  There is a following, because it works for some people.  Some things, some aspects, some practices may indeed be effective, for enough people, for this category to continue to exist.

Or perhaps, they are effective enough in garnering new followers, that the category just persists.

4.  The Emerging Alternatives Medical Practices

This is closely tied to the mainstream camp, especially as individual therapies mature and gain a professional following.  Laser surgery is a prime example of this.  It is a practice that does not involve glasses or contact lenses, but requires professional training, and has gained enough traction over time to be considered "mainstream accepted".

Incidentally it is also a very lucrative business.

There are other therapies, too numerous to mention, that fall into this camp.  There is orthokeratology, for example.  It is still a fringe method today, but is gaining acceptance.  Wikipedia describes the method here.

This camp is generally characterized by procedures that tend to be invasive to some degree, require approved training, and are backed by some industry that creates a product to put the concept into practice.

All of these camps have merit, and none should be dismissed out of hand.

It is difficult for me to say this, since I firmly am in one area.  If you ask me in private, over a beer, I may not say the same thing.  Or at least, that's not all I might say.

But it's true.  The evolution of medical practice throughout our existence is littered with procedures that had their day.  Procedures that today would be considered terrible (not to mention illegal).  Feeding your children heroin to calm them down (19th century Western medicine),  Ice pick lobotomy.  Blood letting.  And I think, hopefully glasses one day will follow that same path (bias, here).

Other practices evolved.  We understand diabetes better.  You can avoid many diseases now, with advice from medical professionals, who recognize the root cause, and help us combat it.  Myopia should, and one day might be among these.

And then there are practices, obscure, forgotten, or never practiced in the West, which may well still be effective.  There is a huge contingent of advocates of all manner of Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and countless other methods not rooted in the current medical establishment.

The best anyone can do, is to become educated.  It is inconvenient, surely, and takes time and patience.

But there is no alternative, if you want the best for your own health.  Just look at things like the USDA "food pyramid" and how that is getting into hot waters, as we better understand the consequences of eating certain types of foods.  Consider not long ago, the massive push towards "low fat", which is now being found as not scientifically sound advice - long propagated by governments and medical science the world over.

There is so much we don't know.  And there is so much that affects what we do know - not the least of which is profit, politics, and dogma.

If you found this site while looking for more information about me, I hope this helps pointing you in some directions for your own personal research.