The Cure of Imperfect Sight by Treatment
Without Glasses - online book

The Original Bates Method, for correcting vision defects

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Lowering of American Standards          7
Up to 1908 the United States required normal vision in recruits for its military service. In that year Ban nister and Shaw made some experiments from which they concluded that a perfectly sharp image of the target was not necessary for good shooting, and that, therefore, a visual acuity of 20/40 (the equivalent in feet of 6/12 in metres), or even 20/70, in the aiming eye only, was sufficient to make an efficient soldier. This conclusion was not accepted without protest, but normal vision had become so rare that it probably seemed to those in au thority that there was no use insisting upon it; and the visual standard for admission to the Army was accordingly lowered to 20/40 for the better eye and 20/100 for the poorer, while it was further provided that a recruit might be accepted when unable with the better eye to read all the letters on the 20/40 line, provided he could read some of the letters on the 20/30 line.1
In the first enrollment of troops for the European war it is a matter of common knowledge that these very low standards were found to be too high and were interpreted with great liberality. Later they were lowered so that men might be "unconditionally accepted for general mili tary service', with a vision of 20/100 in each eye without glasses, provided that the sight of one eye could be brought up to 20/40 with glasses, while for limited ser vice 20/200 in each eye was sufficient, provided the vision of one eye might be brought up to 20/40 with glasses.2 Yet 21.68 per cent of all rejections in the first draft, 13 per cent more than for any other single cause, were for
1  Harvard: Manual of Military Hygiene for the Military Services of the United States, published under the authority and with the approval of the Surgeon General, U. S. Army, third revised edition, 1917, p. 195.
2  Standards of Physical Examination for the Use of Local Boards, District Boards, and Medical Advisory Boards under the Selective Service Regula tions, issued through the office of the Provost Marshal General, 1918.